red line  THE AMPERSAND  red line

Bringing people together in a more personal, authentic way
than an ‘and’ could ever do.

Help Me Help You

December 16, 2013


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As promised, we end the year with the first in our instalment of Pekarsky Stein authored articles.  Lisa Luedtke, in her fourth year with the firm, she of the Master of Philosophy in Criminology, philosophizes masterfully about ways in which you can help her help you.  Read on to learn more and you’ll quickly realize that I’m not the only one ‘round here who does write good.  

On behalf of everyone at Pekarsky Stein, Alberta’s leading boutique search firm, we wish you a safe, restful and peaceful holiday season.   We’ll be back to you in 2014.  





Help Me, Help You

12 Tips to Make Your Resume Recruiter Friendly

By Lisa Luedtke

In honour of the final month of 2013, I have compiled a list of twelve tips to make your resume stand out (for positive reasons) and, well, to help me help you.  ‘Tis the season to start preparing should your New Year’s resolution have anything to do with landing your next career challenge.

  1. Know the difference between a resume and a CV (or Curriculum Vitae, which means course of life in Latin) and then refer to your application document appropriately.  It’s not like talking with an accent…your resume does not suddenly appear more sophisticated just because you’re calling it a CV.  In fact, for anyone who truly understands the difference between the two this mistake can have the opposite effect.  To discuss all of the nuances would be an article in itself, so suffice it to say that a Canadian would typically only use a CV when applying for an academic or research-oriented position, or a job overseas.  Also note that headshots may be included on international CVs (particularly in Asian countries) but this is not standard practice in Canada for either document. 
  2. Resist the urge to over-engineer your resume from an aesthetic standpoint unless the opportunity you are applying for warrants such creativity.  For example, check out this guy’s interactive resume.  You will note that he is a web designer and so this is a clever way to showcase his relevant capabilities.  However, the significant majority of candidates I deal with would be best served by the advice of my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Bagg (a fitting surname, I assure you), who used to incessantly point out the applicability of the “KISS” rule – that is, Keep It Simple Stupid.  A resume doesn’t have to be fancy, just professional – but if you’re technologically savvy and want to spiff it up a bit, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. 
  3. Include your contact info at the top of the first page.  Seems obvious but you wouldn’t believe how many resumes I’ve received – particularly from lawyers (I know, right?!) – that conspicuously lack this crucial element.  I’m a search professional, I can find you, but I shouldn’t have to work that hard. 
  4. Organize your resume with suitable headings and stick to a consistent style.  There’s nothing more distracting than a sloppy cut and paste job that results in more than one font, unintended spaces and recurring details – like company names, job titles and dates – that are haphazardly underlined, italicized, bolded and/or in ALL CAPS.  In the same vein, you’re not fooling anyone with the old ‘shrink the font, expand the margins’ trick that enables you to jam three and a half pages of content onto the recommended two.  If I feel like I’m reading the fine print on a pharmaceutical label rather than your resume, we’ve got a problem.  Lastly, avoid the first person pronoun and use past or present tense as appropriate. 
  5. For each company you’ve worked for, include a one-sentence explanation of the organization, especially if it’s not well or locally known.  You may choose to include information that’s appropriate to the type of professional you are or the specific opportunity you’re targeting.  For example, if you are applying for a CFO role, your description may highlight details like whether the company is publicly traded, privately owned, a subsidiary of a multinational as well as its profit, revenue and assets, etc. 
  6. Contextualize the seniority level within the organization of each position you’ve held by including the title of the person you report/ed to.  Here’s an example of how to do this:  “Reporting to the Vice President of Human Resources, responsibilities included…”  Note, however, that the same job title at different companies can vary drastically in terms of the size, scope and responsibilities of the role.  This is where a well-informed search professional can add value by highlighting any discrepancies for the decision maker throughout the recruitment process. 
  7. If applying for a leadership position, include the number of direct reports you have/had for each position, as well as your total team size. 
  8. Understand the important distinction between skillfully selling yourself (good) and taking liberties with the truth (bad).  A good litmus test is to ask yourself whether you can back up each bullet point on your resume with a specific example from your experience.  I recently learned about an executive’s embarrassing fall from grace when it was discovered in an interview that he had exaggerated, even falsified, some of his job responsibilities.  In this case, it was a calculated and risky move on his part that will most definitely have career-related repercussions.  Even in a city of more than a million people, word spreads with impressive efficiency, making the patronizing threat that ‘you will never work in this town again’ a legitimate (but easily avoided) possibility. 
  9. Don’t take up valuable space by pointing out that your references are available upon request.  Unless you are sixteen and applying for an entry-level position, this is assumed.  An even bigger faux pas is providing the actual names and contact details for your references.  You should always be the gatekeeper of this information so that you remain in control of who receives it and when.  You never want a valued referee – who is doing you a favour and whom you would like to speak favourably about you and your abilities – to be caught off guard. 
  10. Proofread, proofread, proofread.  Your resume is typically your most salient marketing tool and it should never contain any spelling or grammatical errors.  On numerous occasions I have had hiring managers disregard well-qualified candidates because of minor mistakes that turned them off.  My all-time favorite is an applicant who claimed to be “detale oriented.”  Aaaand, yer out. 
  11. For any career opportunity that you really want, prove it by putting in the time it takes to write a tailored cover letter to accompany your resume.  It should be succinct (one page is sufficient) and highlight your most relevant experience for a position.  Don’t bother with a generic letter that you just change the date on each time you submit an application – it is obvious that this is what you have done and it could actually hurt your cause if irrelevant details are communicated. 
  12. Whenever possible, submit your resume as a PDF document in order to ensure that it arrives at its destination in the same state it left you in (to make up for my earlier comment, lawyers are exceptionally good at this one – go figure).  We work off of Mac computers at Pekarsky Stein and occasionally I will open a resume that was created on a PC that incorrectly converts itself to look like the electronic version of a windstorm.  Definitely not ideal.

So that’s my twelve cents.  Enjoy the festive season and be sure to check out the “Opportunities” page of our website at  Should the holiday spirit move you to make a career change, I’d be more than happy to help you put some miles on your resume in 2014. 


–   In Praise of laziness – The Economist 

–   Job Seekers: How NOT to Treat a Recruiter – Business 2 Community

–   Are lawyers Facing the end of the billable hour – The Globe and Mail

–   Chief Legal Officer Survey – Altman Weil

–   Bay Street hiring declines for third year – Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Check out more material at our blog