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Make an impression with your résumé and LinkedIn when job hunting

Sam Roworth, a former international-level athlete, chronicles the trials and tribulations of his hunt for an entry-level sales position in Canada. College graduates are struggling to find suitable full-time work.

Part Three

"Team Canada member and World Cup medalist with proven leadership, communications and problem-solving skills seeking an entry-level sales role."

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With my personal value proposal (PVP) crafted and a clearly articulated vision for the scope of work I was seeking, I set to work overhauling my resumé.

I am reminded to be relevant, specific and achievement-based when detailing my experience.

Every organization that I have worked or volunteered for needs an introductory sentence explaining what it is and what it does. This helps recruiters and hiring managers understand how similar or dissimilar these organizations are to theirs in terms of the nature of their business and its scope of operations.

With so many strong candidates vying for every job, I have approximately seven seconds to hook the reader.

My resumé is my print advertisement – it creates an impression before the first word is read, crafted with the purpose of securing an informational meeting and, hopefully, a formal interview with companies I am interested in working for.

A well-organized and formatted resumé is crucial. For a recent grad like myself, the order of my resumé is PVP, academic experience, athletic, work and volunteer experience, then concluding with certifications. Blocks of dense text, including many long bullets, discourage the reader, so I focus on being succinct and objective in my achievements, using numbers to add impact.

Don't underestimate the power of white space to engage your audience. Every piece of information on my resumé has been crafted to tell a story about how my transferable skills have and will help me succeed in whatever role I find.

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I then move onto my LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has become the "go to" place for professionals and, like a resumé, creates an impression before a word is read.

I ensure that it's consistent with and creates the same impression as my resumé, while expanding on my experience and being more personal and conversational in tone by using the first-person voice.

It's an advertisement to showcase your personality and show the reader that you can look the part for the career to which you aspire. My LinkedIn profile contains all of the information on my resumé along with a summary of each company I have worked for. I include the information about each company to give the reader context about my experience.

Research proves that your LinkedIn profile picture is important – it is not the place for cropped vacation photos. so I have a "professional" headshot in which I am wearing a jacket and tie. I ensure that the "Featured Skills & Endorsements" section aligns with my PVP. Overhauling my profile takes three hours – time well spent.

With my marketing pieces up to date, the next step is to build a wish list of companies I am interested in working for that align with my PVP.

This serves two purposes: it challenges me to look at what I value in a career and workplace environment, and it helps me narrow my focus to where and with whom I should be networking.

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Culture, employee reviews and training programs are among the criteria I used to compile my list of 30 organizations. I begin scouring LinkedIn to see if I have contacts at any of these companies. If I don't have a "first" connection, I look to see who my "second" connections are.

Given how hard I have been working to grow my LinkedIn network, I have a first or second connection to every company on my list. I then prepare to roll out my networking campaign. Given that the majority of jobs are filled through networking, this is essential to the success of my career search.

Editor's note: According to Statistics Canada, between 2014 and 2016 the rate of full-time employment for men aged 17 to 24 was 59 per cent for men and 49 per cent for women. In 2015, according to the federal government's 2015 Labour Market Assessment, 40 per cent of university graduates were underemployed, and 66 per cent of parents were supporting adult children financially, according to a CIBC poll.

Executives and human-resources experts share their views in the ongoing Leadership Lab series. Find more stories here and follow us @Globe_Careers.

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