Monthly Archives: July 2016

7 tips to tailor your resume

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 Tips to Tailor Your Resume

Have you been applying for new roles and not getting much response? If you do not tailor your resume to specifically suit the role, you could be limiting your chances. In a competitive job market, you need all the advantages you can get – so sending out a stock standard document probably won’t achieve the results you’re after. But where do you start, and what information should you tailor?

In my role as a Resume Writer, I have personally reviewed and advised more than 1,000 clients on their Resumes. Many of them aren’t great – after all, clients come to us for assistance and advice because they recognise their current approach is not working. That said, one of the primary mistakes I see is relevance of the content.

Many clients want to ensure they ‘cover all the bases’ and provide a resume that talks to many different roles. This is never our recommended approach for several reasons. You just can’t be all things to all people. Also, today more than ever before, the importance of specialisation cannot be underestimated because almost everybody is ‘multi-skilled’. Tailoring your Resume to specifically suit the role you are applying for helps you to highlight your specialist skills, and the unique reasons why you could excel in the role.

Your content should ideally fit a maximum of three to four pages and every word needs to count in convincing the recruiter you deserve an interview. It is much harder to write less than more – short, sharp succinct content takes time and effort but will achieve better results in the end. So where do you start, and what information can be tailored?

TIP # 1 – Research: the first step is to research the job ad carefully and identify exactly what the recruiter is looking for. Highlight the skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If the company is advertising directly, have a look at their website, and do a Google search for the company name to find out if any current company or industry events might impact the job. Writing just one sentence that references your knowledge of a current situation could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.

TIP # 2 – Career Profile: we always recommend including a customised career profile in your Resume. The profile should introduce you and highlight what you bring to the role. It should briefly demonstrate your skills, experience, and successes, while highlighting how they add value. Most people see this section as fairly standard; however by customising the content to address individual job requirements, or even using the same language as the recruiter – you will put yourself a step ahead. Make it enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, concise and engaging – and clearly demonstrate ‘what’s in it for the employer’.

KTIP # 3 – Key Capabilities: once you know the recruiter’s priorities in terms of what they’re looking for, you can also customise your ‘key skills or capabilities list’. In its simplest form, this means re-ordering your list. Get more involved by rewording those key points and/or customising them to suit the job requirements. Think about what the role needs and demonstrate how you can provide it through some past experience, success, training, or education.

TIP # 4 – Job History: over time, some content may become less relevant to the roles you are applying for today, or perhaps the content is simply dated. It is a good idea to reduce the detail listed under older roles whenever you add recent content. Your Resume needs to convey the most important information about you and your past experience to get you in the door but without becoming too lengthy.

TIP # 5 – Order of Previous Roles: this is not something we recommend doing unless absolutely necessary because the Resume can become confusing if not done well. However, where we may recommend doing this is if you have highly relevant experience in your past work history, with the recent roles not at all relevant. In this case, you should make a new section called ‘Relevant Employment History’ then list the relevant roles. Move your other more recent role descriptions to a section called ‘Other Employment History’. This means that the recruiter will see your ‘relevant experience’ first but the title of the section will give some insight into why that experience is not recent.

TIP # 6 – Achievements: our research indicates that recruiters look for achievements while more quickly discarding resumes that are purely ‘responsibilities’ focused. Try to highlight at least two or three achievements for each role – but tailor them to support your ability to perform in the role you are applying for. Tangible achievements should be first priority, but you can also think about projects you’ve contributed to, collaboration with colleagues, extra responsibilities taken on, new processes you initiated, customer accolades received or major targets exceeded. Think about any aspect where you went above and beyond – chances are, recruiters will consider these achievements.

TIP # 7 – Referees: while it isn’t necessary to include names and contact details (unless specifically requested), or copies of written references, you should do so if the referee is highly relevant to the role you are applying for. An industry expert or well respected leader will certainly add value and credibility to your application.

A well written, tailored Resume won’t get you the job – that’s up to you to achieve at the interview. However, it will help you secure the all-important interview. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to quickly and easily customise your Resume to help recruiters make that all important decision about whether or not that happens.

Would you benefit from some assistance identifying and articulating the most important information to include in your Resume so your next job application has a better chance of standing out? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

Email vs. Cover Letter: What do I Need?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Email vs Cover Letter What Do I NeedWith most jobs requiring submission of your work related documents to an online portal or sent via email, many of our clients are confused about the necessity to create and send a formal cover letter when the job ad doesn’t specifically mention it. Many people think that if you’re sending an application via email or even submitting online, then a cover letter isn’t required, but we don’t agree.

When clients ask our advice about this issue, our answer is ALWAYS YES – include a separate cover letter – no matter how you’re applying for a role and no matter whether or not the job ad has specified you include one. In addition, if you’re applying via email (rather than an online portal), also include a short introduction in the email. By supplying a customised cover letter with your Resume, you give yourself the best chance to stand out – and it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight the unique capabilities that make you an ideal candidate for the role. The email content can briefly introduce you and your motivations for applying.

We recently recruited for a writer and the facts around the applications we received are astounding. Our advertisement specified that applicants provide a Cover Letter addressing some selection criteria, together with their resume. Despite this specific request – check out the statistics:

  • More than half of the candidates who applied did not include a cover letter – even though the job advertisement specifically requested one. Those applications were not considered.
  • Of those candidates who did include a cover letter, less than half of them went on to address the selection criteria – even though the job ad specifically requested they do so. Those applications were not considered.
  • Many candidates mentioned their interest was focused around the flexible hours on offer, but made no mention of their interest in the role itself or what they could bring to the role professionally. This was a big turn-off and those applications were not considered.
  • Three candidates attached cover letters they had written for completely different jobs! Those applications were not considered.
  • More than half the applications contained spelling and grammatical errors. Those applications were not considered.

So while we always advise including a cover letter, we are not talking about a ‘standard’ approach. We advise customising the letter for the role by putting yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and thinking about why you are right for the role, rather than why the role is right for you from your perspective only. Pay attention to all the details in the job ad or position description. What does the candidate need to achieve in the role, what are the company’s issues, and how can you help solve them? Provide brief details of scenarios where you have achieved similar successes in the past – and always provide proof of the outcomes. Make sure to clearly and succinctly address any selection criteria or other specifics mentioned in the job ad.

For the email, keep it brief and reference your attached Resume and Cover Letter for context and detail. Use it as a way to provide a quick introduction. Don’t leave the subject line blank – use it to clearly reference the job title and specific reference number if applicable. While we recommend keeping the content very brief in the email, we also strongly encourage professionalism and proper writing style while avoiding abbreviations, ‘text talk’, overly familiar language, and emoticons.

The bottom line is – it’s not hard to stand out from other candidates – just including a tailored Cover Letter will often put you ahead of the majority of candidates! Even in job ads that have not specifically requested a Cover Letter – we always recommend sending one. Doing so creates a more concise and targeted picture of you and the value you can bring to the role. Our anecdotal evidence also suggests that candidates who include a customised Cover Letter with their application are more likely to achieve an interview.

Are you confused about the different content in a Cover Letter and email? Would you like assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning Cover Letter targeted towards a specific role for your next job application? If so, please see our customised Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.

Staying motivated while job searching

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Stay Motivated While Searching For a New RoleWhether you’re currently employed or not, once you’ve made the decision to search for a new role, the waiting can be tedious! If you are at that point in your career currently, you might be wondering what a realistic job search timeframe is to secure your dream role. The job market is highly competitive right now, so you need to be prepared for it to take a little longer than you might have anticipated.

A SEEK article written last year indicated that 75% of Australians who were currently searching for a new job had been looking for up to six months. The job market may have improved slightly since then, however our evidence from talking with clients on a daily basis suggests that it can take this long, or sometimes even longer. So how can you stay motivated while looking? And can that timeframe be reduced?

  • Be realistic: Firstly, it is important to be realistic about your goals. Research the job market by scouring job sites and work out how many viable roles are actually being advertised in your area of expertise. Are there any skills and/or experience you are lacking? Can you build on these in your current role, or by taking some additional training? What are employers really looking for – read between the lines and try to add value when putting together your application.
  • Be patient: How many jobs have you applied for, and how many of those are an ideal fit for you? The fact is that the job market is highly competitive, so if you’re not hearing back after applying for roles, don’t be disheartened. Unfortunately, it is the norm these days to receive nothing or an automated response to your application. This can be off-putting BUT you are in the same boat as everyone else. Be patient and persistent and don’t be discouraged if you’re hearing nothing back. However, if this is happening consistently – do take it as a sign that you might need to change something about your approach.
  • Arm yourself: Make sure your documents are up to scratch – re-write your Resume, update your LinkedIn profile, and prepare a customised cover letter for every role you apply for. If you can get some feedback from an industry expert, take it, however be careful not to take advice from every well-meaning friend and family member – this can end up just confusing and/or overwhelming you and will not be helpful in your search.
  • Stay put: If you are currently working, stay there! While searching for a new role, it is advisable to stay employed where possible. If the job search process is going to take six months or longer, relying on savings for that period could be difficult. Also, people who are unemployed while searching for work can become unmotivated with reduced confidence, which isn’t a good place to be while seeking a new role.
  • Believe in yourself: we tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals. For many people not working in traditional sales or marketing focused careers, this can sound daunting. However, with a little bit of effort it isn’t that difficult. Believing in yourself and selling your expertise effectively is an important part of the process. Whether it’s in your initial communications (Resume, Selection Criteria and/or Cover Letter), or during the interview process, articulating and communicating your unique value will help get you noticed. Take a good look at your application and ask yourself (as the recruiter) ‘What’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role.
  • Stay focused: the longer you look, the more tedious the process can become. At this stage, it can be tempting to settle for something that might not be quite right, especially if you are keen to leave the role you are in. Remember that lowering your expectations is not the best approach for your career in the longer term, and you may just be right back to where you’re at now in no time at all.
  • Assess progress: if you have been at it for a while, or applied for several roles and haven’t received a call back, take a good hard look at your process. What are you saying in your application? Are your application documents top notch? Are the roles you’re applying for truly a good fit? Have you done any networking? Have you been to an interview and flopped? What parts can you improve?
  • Don’t be disheartened: learning to handle rejection is an important part of the job search process and learning how to not let it get you down is even more important. At the end of the day, it can be a numbers game – so try not to let it get you down – instead focus on the future and just keep moving forward.

The job search process can be draining, especially if it’s taking some time to achieve any kind of traction. Remember that there are many aspects to securing your next opportunity and if you’re finding it tough at the moment – you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve success – you just need to take some time to focus and refine your approach.

If you would like career advice to help you secure your next role, please see our Job Search Coaching or Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.

If you are an employer and would like to assist employees through redundancy to help them secure a new role, please see our Outplacement Services.