Most 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.
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.
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.
Most people have developed a diversity of skills and experience throughout their careers that have made them the person they are today. But many people we talk to find it difficult to consolidate all those skills and experiences into a clear picture of exactly why they’re right for a role – especially if it’s slightly different. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.
I sat down to write this month’s newsletter article following a call with a client. This client was lovely to talk to and he had a raft of experience, skills, perfect qualifications, and previous success but he was struggling to get any interviews. Over the past three months, my client has submitted a lot of applications and mostly just heard nothing or received the standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ response. He knew he was perfect for many of these roles and understood that his approach was wrong which is why he’d come to us.
When I looked at my client’s current Resume, the person on the end of the phone just didn’t match what was in that document. I can’t tell you how often this happens. I will sometimes receive a copy of my latest client’s current resume with a link to the job they’d like to apply for and I honestly believe that I have the wrong two documents together – they just don’t look like they’d even make a slightly suitable candidate.
In most cases, they would in fact make a great candidate but the problem lies in relevance – and first impressions count. Most candidates have developed great skills and experience but they simply don’t present them in the most relevant and effective way. Recruiters often receive hundreds of applications for a role so being able to demonstrate your suitability quickly is key to your success. Here’s a few tips:
1. Create a quick summary of who you are – include your background and key successes – it’s a branding statement or quick elevator pitch if you like. Work out what you can offer, and the value you will bring to your new employer, then articulate that in a clear and concise paragraph or two.
2. Highlight your key capabilities – these are the things that make you an ideal candidate for a specific role. This is so important because key capabilities are going to be different for everyone – they may also differ for you depending on the role or company you’re applying for. Capabilities cover a diverse range of areas such as qualifications, experience, technical skills, personality traits, soft skills, computer skills, industry knowledge etc. but they will vary significantly from person to person and role to role.
3. Customise your content to make it highly relevant – when you’re applying for a specific position, it’s important to work out what’s important for that role and demonstrate how you provide that expertise. Remember this varies for different roles so taking the time to customise is important. This includes mentioning specific skills you may think are ‘standard’ in your industry – if they are mentioned in the job ad, there’s a good chance they are highly important so don’t just assume that the recruiter will think you have them.
4. Simplify your content – get to the point quickly and try not to provide too much detail. This includes making sure you articulate any acronyms that might confuse the recruiter. Following the requirements in the job ad also helps – to the point of changing your job responsibilities to match those of the recruiter – if that’s what you did in a previous job, articulate it clearly and concisely.
5. Consolidate or change your job history – especially if you have lots of different jobs at the same company – try consolidating them to provide clarity. If your relevant experience is a few jobs ago, try moving it up and calling it ‘relevant work experience’ – again thinking about fast and relevant impact for the recruiter.
If you’re not sure whether your Resume is up to scratch you may need assistance from an expert. At the very least, ask for feedback from someone you can trust – preferably someone in a similar line of work to you is ideal. If they can’t see how you’d make a good candidate for a particular role, then a recruiter may not either.
Do you think your Resume might be confusing recruiters? Are you interested in getting assistance from a team of Professional Resume Writers to provide more clarity? If so, please see our CV & Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.
I speak to new clients almost every day and when I ask them about their ‘achievements’ in previous roles, I would estimate that eight times out of ten, I hit a brick wall. People find it so difficult to identify and articulate their achievements. The fact is, you need to sell yourself in a job 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). This is where many candidates can get bogged down – they don’t have a revenue generating or financial management 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 benefit your business, your customers, and/or your colleagues. Sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm with me.
Start by thinking about anything you have done that you were commended on or that made you feel proud. Maintaining an ongoing file with positive feedback or notes when something goes well always helps with this. But just ask yourself a few key questions to help the process:
- Did I receive any positive feedback from colleagues/superiors/clients about something I did?
- Have I overcome or solved any ongoing issues in the business? How?
- What projects did I complete/work on and what did they achieve?
- Did I implement a new way of doing something that made a difference – to the time it takes, the money it costs, the quality of the outcome, the level of service etc.?
Areas you could focus your attention on include:
- Revenue increases
- Expense / cost savings
- Customer Service
- Time Saving
- Branding / market awareness
- Employee morale/attendance
- Simplifying complexity
Our research indicates that recruiters look for achievements while more quickly discarding resumes that are purely ‘responsibilities’ focused. Make sure the achievements you use are tailored and support your ability to perform in the specific role you are applying for.
Would you like help identifying and articulating your achievements so your next job application has a better chance of standing out? If so, please see our Professional Resume Writing Services.
As a team here at Katie Roberts Career Consulting, all of us consultants have been heavily involved in recruitment of some kind throughout our careers. Either as managers directly recruiting team members or as recruiters sourcing people on behalf of clients. Collectively, we’ve seen tens of thousands of resumes applying for diverse roles across almost every imaginable industry.
As a Resume Writer, I’ve personally reviewed and advised on almost 1,000 Resumes in the past six years alone. Most of the Resumes I review aren’t great – after all, clients have come to us for assistance and advice because they recognise their current approach is not working. That said, we do see the same mistakes over and over again – mostly focused on typos, relevance, grammar, and formatting.
• Let’s start with Typos – it seems obvious but typos are a recruiter’s number one complaint. Anecdotal evidence indicates up to 60% of resumes contain typos. This often happens to those people tweaking their resumes frequently to match the requirements of different roles. Going back over your content time and time again to fine tune it makes you open to errors that you may not pick up in the rush to submit your application. While we always recommend taking the extra time to tailor your content to suit the role, it is important to also proof read your document carefully. It might sound strange but reading your document out aloud can help – and printing it out and reading it from a hard copy rather than the screen can also help. Having someone else review your document is ideal, but make sure they are detail oriented good spellers!
• Relevance – 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 when adding recent roles to reduce detail under older roles. 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 long. You should ensure the content fits a maximum of three or four pages and make every word count to convince the recruiter you deserve an interview. It is much harder to write less than more – short, sharp succinct content takes time and effort to achieve but will achieve better results for you in the end.
• Grammar – another area where mistakes can appear over time when content is regularly reviewed. Grammatical errors occur when you start to speak in past and present tense and first and second person. This is particularly important to pay attention to because it can make your Resume extremely difficult for a recruiter to read. Try to stick to past tense when describing past experience and achievements; with present tense for current employment. There is no need to use I, we, or other first person references because your document is already about you – the recruiter knows this and repeating it unnecessarily will just clutter your document.
• Formatting – unless you’re applying for a job as a designer or artist, your focus should be on creating clean, clear content in an attractive but simple format. Complex borders, columns and tables make Resumes look clunky and outdated and should be avoided. Use white space, bullet points and sub-headings to highlight and separate out sections.
The fact that so many Resumes contain errors means that if yours doesn’t you will stand out. Remember, your Resume is not meant to get you the job – that’s up to you during the interview. Make your content count by ensuring it’s short, sharp, relevant and error free for the best chance of success.
Are you interested in some assistance from a Professional CV Writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.
When it comes to Resumes and work experience, faking it is one thing we definitely do not advocate. You may recall the sacking of a new senior executive earlier this year by a high profile retailer in Australia over a fake resume? In this article we discuss the importance of 100% honesty when applying for a new role. But how do you make the most of your skills and expertise to give yourself the best possible shot at the role?
In a job market like we are experiencing right now, 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. But that doesn’t mean faking your level of expertise. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts for success:
Don’t Lie: Never exaggerate your responsibilities, achievements or education. The interviewer may use your Resume content as a basis for interview questions so don’t make statements that you can’t talk about or back up in more detail and lying about your qualifications or education is an obvious mistake.
Don’t Overdo Your Content: A recruiter does not want to read an extensive shopping list containing everything you’ve ever done in the past. Often, what is NOT included in your job application is almost as important in making that all important first impression as what IS in there. So don’t waste words – put yourself in the employers’ shoes and ask yourself “What’s in it for me?” and only include relevant content.
Do Articulate Your Value: We always suggest a Career Overview to articulate exactly why you’d be perfect for the role. This area can be customised depending on the role and should provide a clear snapshot of you, your relevant qualifications, skills and experience and the value you could bring to the role.
Do Include Relevant Information: If you have a diverse work history, you may find it difficult to present it in a cohesive way. Include information that is relevant to the role you are applying for. This might require thinking creatively about how you could use some transferrable skills to highlight ability or success in other areas. There are also different ways to format your Resume to help you achieve more clarity.
You don’t usually get a second chance to make a first impression. Your resume is your first step in the door – but don’t risk embarrassment if you’re found out lying or faking content. If you’re not qualified to do the job, find another role to apply for that is more suitable. You are not only wasting your own time, but the recruiter’s time as well – and it is only a matter of time before you are found out.
Would you like assistance from a professional Resume Writer to create a job application that gets you noticed? Do you feel your application lacks relevance to the roles you are applying for? If you would like assistance with writing a winning job application, please see our Resume Writing Services.
What really makes a recruiter stand up and take notice? In today’s job market, it is common for recruiters to receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so what are they doing to cull those applications? How does that process affect how you should prepare your application?
There are many ways to make sure you get noticed in a job application. Despite what many people think, the best way is not with colourful graphics, complex formatting and an enticing head shot on the front page. Today’s job market is tough and there are simply more people with the right skills and experience applying for the same jobs. So how can you ensure you give yourself the best possible chance at getting noticed? Here’s our TOP 8 TIPS:
TIP # 1: Call the recruiter: many job ads include a contact so call them to find out exactly what they are looking for. Ask if there is anything in particular they are expecting or looking for in an ideal application or any specialist experience they would find useful. Then use that information to tailor your application.
TIP # 2: Focus: understand who you are and what you have to offer and focus your content around those core themes. As a Resume writer I am often asked to write a ‘general’ Resume because clients want something they can use across various roles and industries. Unfortunately this approach just does not cut it. Apart from the fact there is increasing competition in the marketplace, by generalising your experience and skills you could come across as a ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’. Employers look for value and they need experts who can quickly hit the ground running and add immediate benefit.
TIP # 3: Use keywords: many recruiters use software or online systems to make an initial cull of applications and this software works in different ways depending on what it is and how it’s implemented. Regardless if automated systems are used or not to cull applications – it is important to include keywords in your application. By mirroring the content found in the job ad or position description, you increase your chances of getting noticed and being perceived as an ‘ideal’ candidate. Sometimes, all it takes is changing your language like using ‘client’ instead of ‘customer’; and using key industry buzz words to demonstrate your knowledge.
TIP # 4: Write a customised cover letter: you should do this for EVERY job you apply for. Go through the job ad and/or position description with a fine tooth comb and highlight all your relevant experience, skills, qualifications, and specific expertise. If possible, think outside the box to identify successes you’ve had or skills you possess that might make you stand out. For example if you’ve worked in a similar role or industry – perhaps identify a key issue or challenge the industry is currently facing. Maybe you’ve implemented a similar project and have some specialist knowledge – if so, say so and indicate the level of success you achieved and how that is relevant to the recruiter.
TIP # 5: Tailor your Resume: Yes, that’s right – and again EVERY time! This might be as simple as re-ordering some points or de-emphasising/emphasising certain aspects of your job history, but tailoring your resume is just as important as writing a customised cover letter. The recruiter needs to immediately identify with you as being an ideal candidate and you won’t achieve that with generic content. This comes back to focus, but you can brand yourself as the ideal candidate by showcasing relevant experiences and successes and using the same language as the recruiting company.
TIP # 6: Address your cover letter: address your letter to the individual mentioned in the job ad and make reference to the conversation you had if you made an initial call (see TIP # 1). With LinkedIn and other online information sources, it isn’t hard to find out someone’s correct name, title and company address. Take a few minutes to source this information and address your cover letter professionally.
TIP # 7: Include all relevant details in the cover letter: after your address, open with a bold heading stating the job title, where the job was advertised, and the reference number if applicable. This makes it easy for the recruiter to identify exactly what job you’re applying for and allocate your application to the relevant area for assessment.
TIP # 8: Follow up: this is especially so if you have spoken with the recruiter prior to submitting your application but equally relevant if you haven’t. Leaving a brief voicemail or sending a short email is both appropriate and admirable because it shows commitment and interest. Briefly highlight how you match the job description and reiterate your desire for an interview.
Taking a little time to customise the content in your application can reap big rewards when it comes to the job application process so don’t underestimate the value in doing this.
Would you like assistance from a professional Resume Writer to create a job application that gets you noticed? Do you feel your application lacks relevance to the roles you are applying for? If you would like assistance with writing a winning job application, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching Services.
If you feel like you’re sending off rafts of applications with little success, it might be time to change your approach. Tailoring your application is an important stage in the job search process for many reasons – but it becomes more so in a competitive job market like the one we’re experiencing at the moment. It may mean the difference between your Resume ending up in the YES or NO pile so what are you waiting for?
We often tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals and any good sales person knows they need to be tailored to achieve success. While we usually recommend writing a customised cover letter for each role you are applying for, tailoring the entire application is often something candidates relegate to the ‘too hard’ basket. The process of tailoring your Resume can sound time consuming, but we challenge you to put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and ask yourself ‘What’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role.
Before we even begin to tailor, we are assuming that you have a killer resume in place already – a document that highlights who you are, identifies your key skills, and shows the value you have added in previous roles. If you don’t already have that, then focus on this step first – see our previous article How to Write a Resume – Top 10 Tips to get started. Then, follow these five simple steps to tailor it each time you apply:
1. Do Your Research: The first step is research. Read the job ad and identify exactly what they are looking for. Highlight skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If the company is advertising directly, have a look at their website, Google the company name and 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.
2. Customise Your Career Profile: We always recommend including a good strong career profile in your Resume. The profile should introduce you and highlight what you will bring to the role. It should clearly demonstrate your skills and past experience and highlight how they add value to an organisation. Most people see this section as fairly standard; however by customising the content to address specific individual job requirements, you’ll put yourself a step ahead. Make it enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, concise and engaging – and clearly demonstrate to the recruiter ‘What’s in it for me?’ in the context of the job you’re applying for.
3. Change Your Key Skills: Once you know the recruiter’s main priorities in terms of what they’re looking for, you can customise your content to meet those needs. In its simplest form, this means re-ordering your ‘key skills’. Get more involved by rewording those key skills and customising them to suit the job. Think about what the job is asking for and how you can demonstrate that skill by some past experience or success.
4. Write a Customised Cover Letter: We can’t stress enough how important this step is. Writing a customised cover letter is the simplest way for your application to stand out from others. Think about it for a second – if a recruiter receives 100 or so applications, how do you think they’re going to choose which ones to actually read in detail? Research has proven that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. Preparing a cover letter that highlights your key skills, experiences and past achievements that are highly relevant to the role you are applying for increases your chances significantly of ‘getting noticed’.
5. Change the Order of Your Job History: This is not something we recommend doing unless absolutely necessary because the Resume can become confusing. 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.
Taking the time to tailor your application might seem time consuming, but if it means the difference between success and failure, it’s worth it! We talk to so many candidates who are seemingly perfect for roles, but aren’t achieving interviews. After tweaking their applications, they are amazed at the success they can achieve.
Are you struggling to achieve interviews? Do you feel your application lacks relevance to the roles you are applying for? If you would like assistance from a professional Resume Writer to help you customise your job application, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching services.
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Do you have qualifications coming out of your ears but not much experience in the field where you are seeking work? Or, conversely, do you have years of experience and proven success but no formal qualifications. We talk to people every day that fall firmly into one or the other of these camps.
The debate as to whether education or experience is more important when searching for a new role often rears its head when working with clients. The discussion becomes even more passionate in tighter job markets. Whilst it is great to have both – if you don’t, there are ways to optimise your situation:
1. Highlight What Matters: whether you are a recent graduate with very little practical experience or a 20+ year experienced manager with no formal qualifications, relevant expertise matters to recruiters. Try to draw out what you’ve done in the context of ‘success’. Look at the achievements you’ve made in previous roles (or personally) and relate these back to the requirements for the role. For someone with oodles of work experience this might be easy – but make sure you highlight ‘relevant’ experience and substantiate it with examples and successes. If you’re a graduate or have little practical experience in the area you’re applying, highlight your expertise as it relates to the specific job requirements. This could include areas where you excelled during your studies; or soft skills such as team work, flexibility, confidence and a positive attitude. And don’t forget to consider part-time or volunteer work, as well as group and other projects you completed while studying.
2. What if I Have No Work Experience? In many fields, qualifications are an essential pre-requisite – if you want to be a doctor you need to study first! However, with most areas, it’s great if you can do some kind of work while you study. Otherwise there isn’t much (other than academic achievements) to differentiate you from the next person with the same qualification. Even part time work that has no relationship to the area you are now seeking work in can count for experience and will certainly give you the chance to discuss transferrable and ‘soft’ skills. If, however, you are a recent graduate with very little work experience, highlight your academic achievements and think about the skills you developed while studying or even during school (think about sporting and other extracurricular activities).
3. What if I Don’t Have any Formal Qualification? While qualifications are essential for many jobs, for some, experience may well count for more. I have several close friends in very senior sales roles who don’t have any formal qualifications. They have worked all over the world, working their way up from sales representative to senior executive roles today. This means they have a lot of expert knowledge in their area and they can demonstrate success. Again this comes back to highlighting what matters to the recruiter. They want to know what’s in it for them. Ask yourself what you can offer that the next candidate can’t. Think about your successes in the context of the role you’re going for and put yourself in the recruiter’s position – why do they need you in this role?
4. Identify Your Transferrable Skills: everyone has transferrable skills whether you’ve studied and not worked or worked and not studied. If you need to have certain knowledge or skill sets that are learnt during study then demonstrate how you have that. If you have the degree but no experience, think about all the transferrable skills you learnt while studying. Again, look at group assignments and discussions you participated in.
5. Think About Studying: if you have no formal qualifications and feel that this is holding you back, you could always consider enrolling in a course. There are so many courses on offer out there – it doesn’t have to be a university degree. Do your research first and speak to people in the industry or area you’re seeking work in. That way you’ll get expert advice as to the types of courses and qualifications that will be most respected.
Today, it is important to have a good mix of both with employers often looking for unique individuals with diverse skill sets that will add significant value to their organisation. However, there are ways to maximise your personal situation.
Are you struggling to demonstrate how you can add value to roles even though you know you could? Would you like help maximising your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing or Career Counselling Services.