This month I had a post-secondary student approach me for resume assistance. Savvy move on her part, as she was a mature student with a diverse career history and many career paths. Yet, part of her request was securing a resume that would be good for both industry applications AND to submit as part of a course requirement. Hmm, interesting. I asked to see the course marking guide, and needless to say I was slightly dismayed. Not only would it go against several of my personal approaches to resume writing, it had generic and restricting guidelines that I felt would do nothing to help this student stand out in today’s job market. There was a brief moment where I struggled with deciding if I should write a resume so that she could pass her class, or write a resume that would get her a job. That debate didn’t last long. Securing work is the ultimate goal of most post-secondary students, and a resume’s sole purpose is to secure an employment interview. Yet, I didn’t want to leave her hanging, so I wrote two resumes for her and she was very happy. To be honest though, I wasn’t. I wrote one resume I was very pleased with , and then I conformed to the ‘marking sheet’ and produced a document I would not normally endorse.

The entire experience left a bad taste in my mouth. I became acutely aware of the other students who had not sought professional assistance and started wondering what would become of them. Sure, some of them would still get a job with their standard resume….but some wouldn’t! If students had stuck to the supplied guidelines (that were, in my opinion, going to generate a large pool of generic looking resumes) would they really have every advantage heading out into the workforce? Now, to be fair, there may have been deeper instruction and more comprehensive resume education provided to these students than I am aware of, but having once worked as a Career Advisor at a post-secondary institution, I am guessing not.

I also come to the realization that good quality resume education needs to become more of a priority in the educational system; school boards and post-secondary institutions need to invest in high calibre job search assistance for their students, starting as early as possible. And yet, this is typically not the case. But why not?! People go to school to gather skills to assist them in pursuing a great career, and yet the only way most people are going to get their dream job is by writing and producing a quality resume.

How would you rate the job search assistance you received as a high school or post-secondary student, and do you think educational institutions should place more emphasis(and resources) on quality and current job search training? How can we improve job search education at the post-secondary and even high school level? Perhaps career experts be consulted, or internal staff should be specially trained in current trends and best practices. After all, this is our future workforce!

Job Search Education: Pass or Fail?

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