There are always people looking for jobs. It doesn’t matter where you live, there is unemployment and jobs being advertised, as well as job seekers looking for jobs. A lot of the time the two groups never meet and this is why unemployment is higher than it has to be.
Your resume can be the difference between you even being considered for a job or having it discarded. You may have ALL of the necessary skills, but if you can’t get that across to an employer, then it is useless. There are a lot of differences between an unacceptable resume and a good one. There are also a lot of differences between a good resume and a great resume; I will come back to the cover letter later.
You have to think of yourself as a salesperson when applying for a job and your resume is your advertisement. You have to make your advertisement as appealing and as accurate as you can, so that a prospective employer will stop and take the time to consider employing you. Bear in mind that for every job advertised, there can easily be over 500 applications.
I have had experience from all angles over the years. I have been an employee, an employer, a recruiter. So I have seen firsthand how resumes are treated and analysed by different people, depending on the type of job opportunity.
The first thing you have to do when reading ANY job advertisement is to check whether you meet the selection criteria. If you do, or think you do, then definitely apply. If you have absolutely no experience in a field that is demanding experience as essential, it is a waste of your time even applying. I can tell you from experience that I found it extremely frustrating receiving resume after resume for a job demanding specific skills and the majority of applicants did NOT have any of the skills required.
If you have the required skills, ensure that you highlight them in your resume and covering letter so the employer can see clearly that it is worth their time to read and possibly contact you. This is vital as nowadays a lot of employers will only contact suitable candidates.
Some of the worst resumes I have seen have numerous spelling mistakes that would easily have been picked up by the spell check feature in MS Word. Yet numerous people do not even bother to do that. Numerous applications go through with incorrect phone numbers and/or email addresses and no indication of where a person lives. Although you do not need to list your address, a suburb is ideal as it gives the employer an idea of how far you have to travel if you are successful.
General layout of the resume is important. This can be done in many ways, but you have to ensure that whatever the final result is, that it is readable and you don’t have text appearing in parts of the page that are completely out of alignment from the rest of the resume.
Accuracy is vital in a resume. When listing your previous jobs, always list the most recent first, by month and year. If you list it only by year, this can be very deceptive. E.g. 2007-2008 could be 2 months or 22 months and this means a huge difference in actual experience.
There are numerous ways a resume can be set out, but it is important to be clear and concise in your information.
List the company, the job title and the duties you performed. List any outstanding achievements you made while you worked with that employer.
If you are a mature age applicant, you only really need to list roughly the last 10 years of your working life, unless there is other specific information you wish to include that pertains to the role you are applying for. However, just because you have had a lot of jobs, it does not mean you can simply write (as an example) 2001-2007 telemarketing, reception work, fruit picking, customer service, office work, sales, labouring. This does not tell an employer how much time you spent on each job or what companies you worked for. Indirectly it also tells the employer you couldn’t be bothered going to the effort of doing a proper resume.
If you are young and not had much experience, then your school work can be listed with achievements and subjects as well as they will give the employer a guideline as to your theoretical skills. BUT just because you have not had a lot of experience, it doesn’t tell you that you should use larger font to make the resume appear longer.
Don’t list irrelevant information just to fill up space. Don’t use a lot of “industry jargon” because the employer may not understand what you are talking about and therefore discard your resume. This is especially important if you have worked overseas. Don’t expect the employer to know everything you are talking about. You have to explain things clearly to even be considered for an interview.
In fact, a resume should generally not be longer than 4 pages. The longer it is, the less likely the employer is to read it, unless you have attracted their eye in some way.
NEVER list references on your resume. Just make a statement that references are available on request. This is for 2 reasons. Firstly, you need time to advise the references of possible calls so they are aware of the situation and secondly it is a method to ensure that your referees are still actually contactable. Bear in mind that if you know you won’t be given a good reference, then don’t list the reference. I have had several instances of potential employers ringing me for a reference and I found myself being unable to give a good one.
Most companies now have a policy NOT to issue written references and strongly discourage verbal ones as the law has changed so that there is a possibility that the referee can have action taken against them if they give a false reference.
When you have finally finished both your resume AND your cover letter, you MUST proofread both documents thoroughly. Ensure your cover letter is addressed correctly, using a person’s name if you have it. Use spell check first of course. Then read thoroughly as spell check doesn’t pick up a lot of things anyway. Get someone else to read it as well if you can, as a second pair of eyes can be very useful.
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