Category Archives: Resume Writing

How to stand out the right way

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to stand out the right wayWhat makes one person stand out from the rest in a job application and/or interview if everyone has similar backgrounds, experience and education? Being creative with your application is one way you can achieve this – but that doesn’t mean a scented application on coloured paper with a cute gift. It means articulating your value to the organisation in a way that resonates with the recruiter and helps them understand why you’d be a good fit. Some examples of how to do this include:

  • Talking about your achievements: Career achievements sell you to potential employers but many people struggle to convey these in their application. The recruiter doesn’t know (yet) how fabulous you are, so your content should be tailored to make an immediate impact. And immediate impact can only be achieved by showing them how valuable you could be to their organisation. Achievements don’t always have to be money or number focused – although it is great if they are. Think about things you do in your day-to-day work that benefit the business, the customers, and/or colleagues. Sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm ideas where you have done things that you were commended on or that made you feel proud. Think about positive feedback received, times when you solved a business issue, projects completed, or new processes implemented. Maintaining an ongoing file with positive feedback or notes when something goes well will help.
  • Aim for quality over quantity: This applies both to the length of your application as well as the number of applications you send out. Our research suggests 3-5 pages for a Resume is ideal and keeping your cover letter to one page is optimum in the Australian market. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, particularly where selection criteria needs to be addressed or for particular fields where certain information must be included. As a rule of thumb, keep your documents to this length and target jobs that you are a) interested in; and b) suitable for.
  • Tailor your message: Casting your net far and wide with generic applications only waters down your success. This applies to applications for specific roles as well as generic ‘feelers’ or ‘contacts’ via LinkedIn or other social networks. With applications, tailor your message to suit the role. Go through all the ‘requirements’ of the role and make sure you’ve covered off how you have the necessary skills, qualifications and capabilities by demonstrating previous accomplishments in those areas. Likewise with professional networking, if you’re reaching out to someone cold about a position within the company, respect their time. Tell them your name and why you’re contacting them with a brief description of what you’re hoping to learn from them or achieve. Utilise your existing network too – check whether you know someone within the organisation you’re targeting – or even associated with that organisation in some way, and reach out to them first to ask for a referral.
  • Solve a current issue: Conducting some research into the company you are interviewing with means you might be able to provide some educated insight into solving a problem for them. Showing how much you care about the role and the company during the interview by knowing about the organisation, the market, its competitors and customers will ensure you leave the recruiter with the knowledge that you’d be a valuable employee. By researching the company beforehand and preparing a list of relevant questions or perhaps highlighting a potential solution to an issue being currently faced is a great way to stand out.
  • Make your application easy to read: This includes structure, content, format and grammar/spelling! Use bullet points, sections, headings, achievements and white space to make your application appealing – and don’t be tempted to make it too fancy. Make sure you proofread your documents, and have someone else do it as well. Ensure the application is cohesive, clear, concise and accurate – and focused on why you’re an ideal fit for the role.
  • Be punctual, organised and professional: This might seem obvious but you’d be amazed how many people just don’t place the right emphasis on this point. For a physical interview, plan to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early to allow for any last minute issues, research transport/parking options prior to the interview day, and dress neatly and appropriately for the company. Take a copy of your resume, the position description, a pen and note paper. Don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions to find out more about the role and the company, as well as providing a chance to highlight your interest in the role and stand out to the recruiter.

Our research indicates that while some recruiters do appreciate creativity and unconventional approaches, many do not. What is essential is that you can demonstrate that you have done your research and can show how serious you are about the opportunity. It takes a recruiter between 5 and 30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so.

Would you like help making sure that your next application or interview helps you stand out in a crowded job market? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services or Interview Skills Training Service.

Do applicant tracking systems impact your job search process?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Do applicant tracking systems impact your job search processAn applicant tracking system (ATS) is an automated system that helps companies manage the entire recruitment process – from issuing the job ad and receiving the applications, right through to actually hiring the new employee. It’s basically a database that automates the collection of all the important applicant information and helps recruiters screen and select appropriate candidates. So how does this impact your job search process?

In today’s increasingly competitive job market, with many advertised roles regularly attracting hundreds of applicants, and some large organisations receiving thousands of applications each week, ATS programs are becoming more common. An ATS assists the hiring company to streamline the entire recruitment process but that also means your application may never actually be seen by ‘human eyes’. To ensure your resume makes it through the initial automated cull, you should follow some basic rules:

  • Identify and use keywords – read the job description or ad and make sure you include relevant ‘keywords’ in your application – but don’t stuff them in places they don’t belong for the sake of it. Employers are always looking for certain attributes in candidates – this can include specific qualifications, experience, expertise, skills, and even personality traits. By reading the job ad or job description carefully and making sure you cover all the areas mentioned, your application will have a better chance at being ‘selected’ by the ATS. You should also never assume that just because you have a certain qualification or title, the recruiter will know you have a particular skill. If the job ad mentions a ‘requirement’ be sure to explicitly cover it in your application.
  • Reference exact matches – use exactly the same language as what is used in the ad, spell out acronyms and don’t abbreviate words like Department (Dept) or Manager (Mgr). Take notice of how words are written – including plural words, abbreviations, and numbers (are they spelt out or referenced as a number?). For example, saying ‘customer service’ instead of ‘client service’ or ‘CRM system’ instead of ‘Salesforce’ can impact your chances that the ATS will ‘select’ you as an initial match.
  • Double-check your document – this should be obvious, but make sure to correct all spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors before you submit your application, as well as ensuring proper capitalisation of words.
  • Keep the formatting simple – it’s best not to include graphs, images, photos, graphics or logos. It’s far better to spend your time preparing great content with clearly defined sections, sub-headings and bullet points than include content which can confuse the ATS and cause it to produce gobbledygook for the recruiter.
  • Submit your application in the preferred format – upload your resume as a document in the preferred format specified in the job ad or online application form. Try not to cut and paste content where possible.
  • Follow best practice – when it comes to formatting your job history, follow best practice and make sure to include your employer’s full name, your job title and the dates you held the job. Always list your work experience in reverse chronological order – so start with your current or most recent position and work backwards.

Adjusting the content in your resume for every application does take more time and effort than sending a generic resume, but it’s worth it in the long run. ATS technology has transformed the recruitment industry and made it simpler for both the employer and employee to find the perfect fit. Follow these simple rules and give yourself a better chance at being selected. Remember though that once the ATS has ‘selected’ you as an ideal candidate, your application will be reviewed by human eyes so make sure it is visually appealing, easy to read, and not loaded unnecessarily with keywords.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Would you like some assistance to prepare an application optimised for an ATS? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services.

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.

How to Identify Your Most Important Employability Factors

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Identify Your Most Important Employability FactorsFor most of us today, a career for life is simply not an option. We usually have several different jobs, with a variety of different employers, in various different industries or sectors throughout our working lives. This means we need to be flexible when identifying the factors that make us employable – those skills that help us acquire, retain and achieve success in a job.

So what exactly are ‘Employability Factors’? Basically they are the set of achievements, skills, expertise, and personal attributes that help you achieve success in your chosen career. Most employers seek candidates that have other abilities beyond just the required qualifications and experience. These are a more comprehensive or balanced mix of experience, soft skills, and value that you add in your day to day work.

I’ve written before about how soft skills can help advance your career so this is a great place to start. The most important soft skills for your chosen career don’t necessarily align closely with the technical knowledge or hard skill sets required. They relate to the way in which you interact with and treat others, make decisions, or react to different situations. They include:

  1. Communication: employers mostly seek candidates who can clearly and concisely articulate ideas and needs (both verbally and in writing) with a wide variety of people.
  1. Interpersonal: being able to develop working relationships is seen as one of the most important skills for any employee. It means you can empathise with others and build important relationships – with colleagues, superiors, clients, suppliers, and other employees.
  1. Creative Thinking & Innovation: competition is fierce across most industries today, so doing things the way they’ve always been done isn’t ideal. Having the ability to think outside the box to solve problems and make decisions can offer new perspectives or approaches and is a huge asset to any employer.
  1. Collaboration: the ability to work well with others and appreciate input from different team members is essential, and will result in higher levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and ultimately success for any organisation.
  1. Presentation Skills: being able to present ideas and information effectively is vital. This isn’t just about making formal presentations, but also includes speaking at informal meetings and preparing written reports, business or project plans, or more detailed strategy documents.
  1. Leadership: having the confidence and ability to influence other people’s decisions and outcomes is important. Leadership isn’t just for ‘leaders’ or managers, but is important for all employees to progress and succeed.
  1. IT Skills: most people need some IT skills to do their job. As a minimum, you should understand the basics of IT such as using the internet, sending and receiving emails, and using word processing and/or spreadsheet applications.

In addition to these soft skills, you should be able to identify the value you add. A great way to do this is to talk about your achievements because new employers don’t know your history – they need to understand the value you can add in the role, and  this can be achieved by explaining past achievements.

Achievements don’t always have to be money or number focused (although it is great if they are). This is where many candidates get bogged down – they don’t have a revenue generating role so they think they don’t have ‘achievements’. However, there are many different areas we can look to for achievements. Think about things that you do in your day to day work that benefits your business, customers, and/or colleagues. Sit down with a pen and paper and think about anything you did:

  • where you received positive feedback or praise from a colleague, superior or client;
  • that made you feel proud;
  • that solved an ongoing issue or problem in the business;
  • that involved working in a team – say a larger project that was completed collaboratively;
  • that provided a new way of doing something;
  • that reduced the time taken or cost required; and
  • that improved service or support, or the quality of the outcome.

Once you’ve identified these soft skills and past achievements, you have the basis of your most important employability factors – the reasons why an employer would choose you over someone else. It’s also important to have a good attitude towards personal development because employers want ‘lifelong learners’ – people who are willing to adapt, change, and constantly learn in order to do things better for their organisation.

Would you like help identifying and articulating your most important employability factors so your next job application has a better chance of standing out? If so, please see our Career Advice and Resume Writing Services.

Are Speculative Job Applications Worth the Time and Effort?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is a Speculative Job Application Worth the Time and Effort?We believe the answer is definitely YES! Learning how to write an effective speculative job application can certainly pay off – especially if you are seeking to change careers or move up the career ladder. It can demonstrate initiative, keenness and a proactive nature – all great traits for any successful employee.

Speculative job applications are also a great way to put yourself in control of your job application process. We strongly believe if you’re only applying for advertised vacancies, you may be missing out on many other opportunities – as well as making your entire job search process much longer than is necessary.

Sending a speculative job application to a company that is not currently advertising a suitable position can get you and your experience in front of the right person at just the right time, and prevent your application from sitting in the same pile as everyone else’s. But what is the best approach?

Here are our tips for success:

TIP # 1 – Research the company: and how your skills and experience could benefit them. This does take time, but it will pay off. You’ll be able to quickly demonstrate how your background could be of value. In addition, you’ll have a good idea about how good a ‘fit’ you are, which will help you appear more confident if you do achieve that all important one-on-one interview.

TIP # 2 – Strategise: take time to define your offer and why a potential employer might like to meet you. Write down your key skills and strengths and how they fit the company’s goals and objectives. Try to identify benefits or ‘value add’ outcomes that you’ve achieved for other employers and relate that to the company you are approaching.

TIP # 3 – Use Your Networks: you can approach a company cold by sending a letter or email, but a better approach is to leverage your existing network. If you know someone within a company, don’t be afraid to ask them for help in ensuring your application is delivered. Just don’t forget to show your thanks and hopefully repay them with some information or advice in the future.

TIP # 4 – Write: put yourself in the potential employer’s shoes and write based on the ‘what’s in it for me?’ principle. This is an important part of the speculative process because you’re approaching them with no real idea about whether or not there are any relevant current or impending opportunities. Rather than just making statements about who you are or what you offer – provide proof of value or results you’ve achieved in the past. Your speculative application needs to be sufficiently interesting for the potential employer to want to talk to you more. You can only do this by showing them how you’ve achieved certain results or solved specific problems in the past.

Here’s a few tips on how to format your approach:

  • Use a formal letter writing technique – include your name and address details, the date, address the letter to a specific person (not just a title such as ‘Attention HR Manager’) and include their job title, and the company name and address details. End the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’.
  • Open with the reason why you are writing to them – mention what interests you. Explain you are seeking a new role and why you have identified the company as a potential employer.
  • Summarise your experience, skills and areas of expertise including recent achievements or successes (remember the proof mentioned above). Tell the reader why you are interested in exploring employment opportunities with their organisation, what you could bring to the company, and why you feel you’d be a good candidate.
  • Prompt a call to action by telling the reader how to contact you and what they will achieve if you speak further.

Once you’ve written your speculative application, don’t sit back and wait! Follow up with a phone call a few days later. Even if your letter hasn’t been read, this approach could increase your chance of success. Speculative applications are no longer being seen as presumptuous, in fact many employers love them because they save much time with recruitment! So what are you waiting for? 

Would you would like help crafting a speculative cover letter? If so, please see our Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.

5 Things Not to Include in Your Resume and Why

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 Things Not to Include in Your Resume and WhyWhen it comes to Resumes – what NOT to include is almost as important as the information that’s in there. Your Resume needs to give the recruiter a great first impression but it will probably be one of many received. It’s therefore important to use the space and words wisely and ditch the unnecessary clutter.

It’s never been more important to get your Resume and job application 100% right the first time. Since it will most likely be one of many received, you need to give yourself the best chance at getting noticed. As Resume Writers, we often get asked why certain information hasn’t been included.

Here’s a list of five things we avoid and why:

1.  Career Objective: Don’t waste words stating what you want. Put yourself in the employers’ shoes. They need to understand immediately “What’s in it for me?” not what you’re searching for in life. Instead of your own personal career objective, we suggest including a career overview that provides a snapshot of who you are, your relevant qualifications, skills and experience – and the overall value you could bring to the role.

2.  Unnecessary Education: Unfinished degrees and high school details are mostly unnecessary. Putting a degree on hold could highlight commitment issues in the employer’s mind so we recommend excluding it altogether. Always include study currently underway – but state your ‘anticipated completion date’ so the employer knows how far along you are. It’s also not necessary to include high school information unless you’ve only recently left school. Once you have tertiary qualifications and/or some work history behind you, exclude high school details.

3.  Personal Information: It is not necessary to include age, height, weight, marital status, health, children, hobbies, religious, cultural or political associations so don’t waste space by doing so.

4.  A Photo: Unless you are a model or an actor, it’s not necessary. Since it is discriminatory to hire or not hire someone based on their looks, including a photo could be a distraction. Some recruiters even go so far as culling resumes with photos.

5.  Quirky Email Addresses: Having a 007 or Catwoman email address might sound fun but it just isn’t professional. Create an email address containing your first and last name/initials – or the best combination of these you can achieve.

You don’t usually get a second chance to present your Resume and it is arguably the most important part of your application process – without it you won’t get that all important interview and a chance to secure the role.

Are you interested in getting assistance from a Professional Resume Writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume & CV Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.

How to find your achievements

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to find your achievementsMost people we talk to significantly underestimate their career achievements in previous roles. As a culture, Australians are modest – we’re taught not to boast from a young age. We do our jobs and do them well, but often don’t think of our day to day role in the context of achieving. However, if you want your resume to get noticed, you need to show value by articulating your achievements well.

In today’s highly competitive job market, recruiters look for achievements. They are most interested in what you did for a company you previously worked for, how well you did it, and the areas where you excelled over and above your day to day ‘duties’. That’s why your resume needs to clearly highlight these achievements so recruiters are keen to talk to you further.

So what can be considered as achievements and how can you identify them? Many people we talk to say “I don’t have any achievements”. Everybody has them, but you need to think about your previous roles and responsibilities in a different way. On your resume, achievements provide evidence of how you contributed to your employer’s success. The most convincing achievements are or course measurable or quantifiable. Things like growth, sales, quality, reductions, gains, customer acquisition/retention etc. (and quantified with measurable benefits that include numbers, percentages, dollars, time etc.).

However, achievements don’t necessarily have to be quantified. This is the most common argument we hear – the fact that a candidate can’t actually articulate an achievement that is quantifiable. Actually, there are various ways to identify accomplishments and they don’t have to be quantified. Sit down and brain storm how you have helped your employer to succeed – in any small way. Think about any task or responsibility you undertake which has an outcome and write them down. In addition, ask yourself the following questions to help other ideas flow:

  • Did you receive any promotions? Especially after a short period – e.g. ‘promoted to Sales Manager after just six months in the Sales Associate role’.
  • Did you receive praise? A pat on the back from your manager or some feedback or a commendation from a customer. Think about recognition you received – for completing projects ahead of schedule, handling an irate customer, suggesting a new / faster way of completing a task, saving money etc.
  • Did you feel particularly good about something? Anything you did that made you feel proud could be considered an achievement. Did you complete or participate in a particularly challenging project? Where you able to turn around a situation with a customer that was previously causing concern? Did you fix or improve a process? Are you known within your department or company for anything in particular? Have you developed considerable knowledge about a particular area so that you’re now considered the ‘go to’ expert?
  • Were you selected for a project? Being selected to participate as a member of a project team, committee or task force is an achievement – no matter how small your role. Focus on the reason why – your knowledge of an area, your specific skills etc.
  • Have you worked with any high profile companies? Can you drop any big company names – e.g. ‘provided consistently high levels of service and support for global industry leaders including XYZ company and ABC company’.
  • Have you made suggestions that were implemented? Even if you weren’t solely responsible for implementing a suggestion, coming up with the idea in the first place could be considered an achievement. This would apply to areas where you may have been able to improve the way something has done, reduce time taken, increase productivity, achieve a better outcome etc.
  • Are you highly accurate? Completing processes for a long period error free or meeting deadlines in an environment that is error prone or susceptible to missed deadlines could be considered an achievement.

Once you have some ideas, turn them into high impact statements – always leading with the benefit that your employer gained. Start your statement using words like improved, increased, transformed, changed, altered, assisted, reorganised, overhauled, developed, built, established etc. If you’re still stuck, ask your manager or colleagues what value you offer and make sure to review your previous performance reports for ideas. The main thing to remember is not to take your achievements for granted – potential employers always see past success as an indicator for future performance so it’s one of the most important areas to get right.

Are you finding it difficult to articulate your achievements? Do you need help brainstorming some ideas that will impress recruiters? If so, our Professional Resume Writers can help! Please see our Resume & CV Writing Services for more information.

Where to start with an outdated Resume?

Article by Belinda Fuller

The information in your Resume should be short, sharp and compelling to effectively sell you and your unique skill set as a viable candidate for the roles you are applying for. If you don’t keep up to date records, it can be a major chore to update it. So where is the best place to start?

We often get asked this question, especially by people who’ve never had to officially ‘apply’ for a role before, by people who’ve been in the same role for many years, or by those who’ve been out of the workforce for some time. While each situation requires a slightly different approach – the basics remain the same. A Resume is like a sales proposal on YOU! It’s essential that you highlight your key skills, qualifications and experience in a way that demonstrates value to a potential employer. It should be packed full of easy to read facts about you – but they should focus on achievements and be written in a way that demonstrates how they helped your previous employer.

So where should you start with outdated content?

1.  Get clear on what you want: your first step should always be researching the types of roles you’d like to achieve. Having a clear idea of the type of role you’d like to secure will provide you with a great starting point for the types of skills and experience you need to demonstrate. You can then focus your new Resume content on those parts of your past that are most important.

2.  Understand your value: recognise the accomplishments you have made and the value you have added, then learn how to articulate that in a way that appeals to potential recruiters. Spending time on Step 1 will help you to do this. If you have a good understanding of the areas you need to excel in to achieve the type of role you’re looking for, this process will be easier. Once you understand your value, develop a career summary that provides the recruiter with a quick overview of you – an elevator pitch if you like. It’s a preview of your resume written to entice them further. It should be the first thing they see, no longer than two paragraphs – and include a mixture of your professional success, academic/industry training, together with any relevant personal attributes.

3.  Focus on achievements: Brainstorm where you have achieved success previously. It’s a good idea to include at least two or three achievements for each of your previous roles – more if you can. Tangible achievements are first priority, but if you honestly can’t think of anything you can quantify then 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 things you did in previous roles that made you proud or situations where you went above and beyond – chances are, recruiters will consider these achievements.

4.  Plug gaps – recruiters don’t like mysteries so if you have been out of the workforce it is preferable to explain the gap rather than leave it blank. Think about your work gaps and what you did during that time. Volunteer work, charity work, education, training and professional development should all be included to show you weren’t idle during that time.

A well written Resume will help you secure the all-important interview. But you need to understand your value and what’s important to your potential employer before you can do that. For more ideas on the specific content to include or how to write a Resume, visit the Resume section of our Career Advice Blog.

Are you interested in getting assistance from a Professional Resume Writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.

Why transferable skills matter

Article by Belinda Fuller

Soft skills concept on white

It may come as a surprise to some, but employers don’t just look for education and work experience. In order to achieve a viable long term employee, they also consider a range of skills that go beyond relevant technical requirements. Obviously you need to suit the role and possess all the minimum requirements, but so called transferable (or soft) skills can increase your chances of standing out in your next application.

If you’re like most candidates, the first thing you think about when applying for a new role is education and experience. However, this is often not the most important area. Many times, the skills you have acquired outside of your area of expertise can provide the key to achieving your new role.

No matter how experienced you are or how many different roles you have held, identifying and clearly articulating your transferable skills to a potential employer is very important. These transferable skills can be referred to as ‘soft’ skills and are key to achieving some roles – particularly if you are changing direction or careers – even if only slightly.

These skills matter because they can help you make a smooth and successful transition to a new role. They make you a valuable and contributing employee from your very first day in the role. While your specific area of expertise might be highly technical or specialised, transferable skills ensure you achieve a long term career.

How can they be acquired? Transferable skills are acquired by everyone starting from when you are born – they come from day to day interactions with family, formal schooling, university education, social interaction with friends, sporting activities, day to day work activities, workplace interactions, and throughout the course of life in general.

How do you identify them? Think about your areas of strength and weakness or use a formal self-assessment tool. Enlisting the help of a colleague or superior can help or alternatively try an online assessment tool – simply google ‘transferable skills assessment’. Your formal annual performance review process can also be a great place to make this happen. It’s simply a process of identifying a list of skills and going through and checking off all those that you feel you possess.

What are they? The areas to think about are broad, but generally cover some key areas:

  • People skills – communication, interpersonal/influencing, delegating, diplomacy, coaching/mentoring, leadership, presentation, tact and empathy, collaboration, customer service, negotiation, listening
  • Analytical skills – problem solving, research, data analysis, risk management, financial analysis, budgeting
  • Organisational skills – time management, prioritisation, resource management, project coordination, efficiency, productivity
  • Creativity & commercial acumen – the ability to solve problems with creative but viable solutions, thinking outside the box, and adapting to changing environments, market situations and company strategy are huge assets in today’s competitive world. Likewise understanding how your work fits into the bigger picture or broader company strategy is important.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve identified your skills, you need to prove them and articulate the ‘how’. It’s not enough to just say ‘I’m a great communicator’ you need to prove why you are a great communicator with examples. We always recommend an overview or profile and key capabilities section in your resume where you highlight some of these transferable skills together with an explanation of ‘how’ the skills were acquired. Likewise, in an interview, be prepared to articulate where you gained your skills with specific examples that demonstrate how they have contributed to past successes.

Would you like help identifying and articulating your transferable skills? Does your Resume need updating with some proof on how you obtained these transferable skills. If you would like assistance with your job applications and job search, please see our Resume Services and Job Search Coaching Services.