Selling yourself and your expertise effectively is an important part of the overall job search 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. This month, we look at some strategies to assist you in selling yourself to a potential employer.
We often 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. We often tell our clients to put themselves in the shoes of the recruiter. 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.
To help understand the concept, let’s follow six fundamental sales steps:
1. Introduce Yourself – in any sales situation, you need to introduce yourself, give a reason why you’re there and explain why what you’re selling will benefit the buyer. Same goes for your job application. Start with a good strong introduction or ‘Career Profile’ that demonstrates your skills and past experience and how that will add value. This section is usually fairly standard, however consider customising the content to address any specific individual job requirements. Similar to any sales situation, make sure your introduction is enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, concise and engaging – and clearly demonstrates ‘What’s in it for me?’
2. Ask the Buyer What They Want – any good sales person will tell you the key to success is finding (and addressing) the buyer’s ‘pain points’. This means researching their issues and giving them what they need to address those issues. Same goes for your job application. Study the job ad and/or job description in detail and make a list of all the key points. At this point, it can often help to study other similar job ads. If a contact person is listed, call them – ask questions to uncover the pain points and ask them outright what they are looking for.
3. Show Your Value – if a buyer can’t see the value in a product or service, they simply won’t buy it. Same goes for your job application. If you don’t give the recruiter what they want, you won’t succeed. Your application needs to demonstrate to the recruiter how you are going to add value. This process is simple once you know their pain points because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important so spend time ensuring the content in your documents targets and addresses as many of the requirements as you can. Use past successes and achievements to show how you’ve ‘added value’ in the past.
4. Present Your Offer – successful sales proposals are clear and concise with relevant content that doesn’t ramble and is presented in a visually appealing way – using white space, headings and bullet points to highlight and present information so it’s easy to digest. Same goes for your job application. While we never recommend highly formatted resumes with tables and pictures, we do use some fabulous templates that really cut through. Never under-estimate the value of information that is easy to read and well formatted.
5. Provide a Call to Action – any basic sales training will tell you that this is often the most common mistake poor sales people make. Not actually asking for the sale. The buyer needs guidance and they need to know that you want their sale. Same goes for your job application. Make sure you tell the recruiter that you are keen to talk further about the value you can add. This means asking for an interview and providing contact details (phone and email) that are clearly visible on all parts of your application. It also means answering your phone to unidentified numbers and providing a voicemail facility. Making it easy for the recruiter to contact you is a key part of the process.
6. Stop and Listen – an important part of any sales conversation is listening to the buyer. This last point relates specifically to the interview if you’re successful in progressing to that stage. Communication is key, however if you don’t listen to your buyer, you don’t get the opportunity to present your offer in the best possible way to meet their needs. Same goes for an interview. Listen to the recruiter and answer their questions as best you can. Also ask questions to demonstrate you are keen. We have written several articles relating to succeeding in interviews that you can read here.
Success in sales is based on giving the buyer what they need. Likewise, when you’re searching for a new job – do some research, know your customer, and give them what they need in order to achieve success.
Are you a natural sales person? Or do you, like many people, find it hard to sell your skills and expertise effectively? Would you like some assistance from a professional Resume Writer to develop a job application that clearly and honestly articulates the value you could bring in a role? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services here.
1. Select a Reputable Company – this goes without saying, however when you’re buying online, you need to do your research. Make sure the company you select has a reputable brand. Research their website, and view their Resume writer’s profiles or biographies. Read customer testimonials and evaluate their communication with you once you make your enquiry. If they are not responsive and prompt in that first encounter then don’t expect results down the track.
2. Work With Your Resume Writer – once you’ve engaged a writer, don’t just sit and wait. The process should be collaborative. While the Resume writer has the skills and expertise to write, you have the in depth knowledge of you! You need to be involved in the process from start to finish, providing as much information as you can to give your writer insight into what you’ve achieved in the past so they can craft a Resume that stands out. Your writer also needs to understand the direction you would like to head in so providing them with examples of jobs that appeal to you is also a good idea. Resume Writers can do wonders with your job applications, but they aren’t magicians. Work with them to ensure success.
3. Trust Your Writer – while it is OK to ask for input from colleagues, friends and family, you are paying a professional to write your new Resume and you need to trust them to do a great job. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone say, “my friend had a look at it and said it should include X”. Really? Why didn’t they write your Resume for you? I can’t speak for other companies in the industry, but I know that my colleagues have literally hundreds of years experience between them in recruitment, human resources, and corporate/professional writing roles. They’re the experts and they work with each and every client individually to ensure the best possible outcome.
4. Don’t be Modest – leave your modesty at the door. Resumes that stand out are those that clearly articulate the value the candidate will bring to the hiring company. This means going back to number 1 and working with your Resume writer to bring out all the achievements you’ve made in your career to date. Most people struggle to articulate their own achievements and that’s OK – your writer should be able to help you uncover those nuggets of gold. It’s always valuable to use quantifiable statements, such as dollars, savings, increases, percentages etc., however if that truly isn’t possible, you need to think about other areas where you have excelled – whether you have been promoted, received an award, implemented a new process or improved an outcome. You need to think long and hard about anything you did in your work that made you feel good, that you received good feedback on, or that you still feel proud of.
5. Don’t Focus on the Format – appearance matters and you need to ensure your writer uses a professional looking template, however if you’re focusing too much on the design component of your Resume, you won’t achieve the best results. Content and the order in which your content is presented, is what is most important to ensure your message cuts through. Photos and fancy design components are not necessary to stand out in Australia (unless of course you are a model or actor in which case you do need a photo!).
Remember that the process should be collaborative, but you need to trust your writer to produce the best possible result for you since they are the expert. Have you had any experience with Resume Writing Services? How did you ensure the best possible result?
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.
A Resume is a document that details your work history and key skills. Whilst it should always be factual and not contain exaggerations, it is essential to demonstrate value to your future employer. My top ten tips on how to write a Resume are:
1. Summarise Your Career – a Career Profile provides a quick overview of you – a preview of your resume written to entice the reader further. It should be the first thing the reader sees, no longer than two paragraphs – and include a mixture of your professional success, academic/industry training, together with any relevant personal attributes.
2. List Key Skills at the front so a recruiter could read just page one of your resume and understand whether you’re a potential candidate. This part of the resume is the easiest (and most relevant) area to customise and is the section that could make the difference in getting noticed. Try not to simply state you have a skill – demonstrate how you have it – i.e. if you mention supervising teams – state how many people and/or what they accomplished. If you manage budgets, indicate values. Put each skill into context and help the reader understand the size, scope or complexity of your expertise.
3. Detail Your Job History – list the jobs held in reverse chronological order beginning with most recent. Include job title, company name, start and finish dates, responsibilities and achievements. Don’t list every task – instead include key responsibilities that demonstrate the role’s scope and focus the detail around achievements. In terms of how far to go back, 10 years is usually enough.
4. Focus on Achievements – include at least two or three achievements for each role – more if you can. Tangible achievements are first priority, but 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 where you went above and beyond – chances are, recruiters will consider these achievements.
5. Fill 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.
6. Education, Training and Accreditation – include your relevant formal education, professional development, short training, certificate courses, and licences. Unless you are a recent graduate, there is no need to list High School or mention subjects studied – however if you received honours, distinctions or any special awards you could mention it. If you are currently studying – indicate when you expect to finish.
7. Professional Memberships & Affiliations – these demonstrate commitment and dedication to your career, and can provide good networking opportunities. Include the organisation and level of affiliation as well as an indication of how long you’ve been associated.
8. Referees – there is no need to include names and contact details (although you can if you wish), or copies of written references. It is acceptable to simply state “available upon request”.
9. Include Enough Detail to sell yourself without rambling. A standard resume is three to five pages – anything longer and you’ve included too much history or gone back too far – remember 10 years is adequate. If you want to showcase highly relevant experience older than 10 years, include a section called “Relevant Experience”.
10. Include Prominent Contact Details – this seems obvious, but many resumes don’t include contact details in an obvious spot. Include full name, address, phone, mobile and email address at the front (top) of the document, then add your name and email and/or phone in a footer on each page. Make it easy for a recruiter to contact you.
A well written Resume will not 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 write a Resume that helps recruiters make the all important decision about whether or not that happens.
If you are interested in getting assistance from a professional resume writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application, please see our CV and Resume Writing Services.
It takes just 20-30 seconds for an experienced recruiter to read a resume – OK, not read exactly – but scan in enough detail to make a decision on whether or not to read further. In a crowded job market, recruiters notice ‘stand-out’ applications. This means it must be easy to read and contain information that identifies you as an ideal candidate! Here’s some tips to secure a place on that all important shortlist:
- Make it Relevant – highlight relevant work experience and success. If you’ve worked in a completely different role for the past five years, but have highly relevant experience prior to that – call it ‘relevant’ experience and put it up front. If your resume doesn’t immediately and clearly establish your relevant experience and highlight what you’ve achieved for your employer, it may be ignored.
- Address the Must Haves – many recruiters discard applications that don’t meet their list of ‘must haves’. Read the job ad and/or position description carefully and figure out what these might be. Ensure all the requirements you meet are addressed – so the recruiter sees how your experience/skills match the ‘must haves’ for this role.
- Don’t Leave Questions Unanswered – if a recruiter has too many questions, your application may get overlooked. Fill gaps in your history – if you took time off to study or travel – say so. If you worked for a small company that isn’t well known – explain what they do. Don’t just include the years as start and finish dates – e.g. if you write 2011-2012 you could have worked there for two months or two years – be more specific. If you’re currently studying – state when you expect to graduate.
- Cover Letter – include a personal cover letter addressing the core requirements of the position. Highlight why you’re an ideal candidate early in the letter and make the recruiter want to read your resume in more detail.
- Be Realistic – If you’re applying for a senior manager’s role, leading a large team of managers and you’ve never even led a team – your application may be ignored. There can be exceptions to this, but if you need a certain level of experience or qualification that you just don’t have – recognise you might be aiming too high.
- Make it Easy to Read – use bullet points, sections, headings, achievements and white space to make your application appealing. Don’t be tempted to make it too fancy – clear and concise language, no jargon, and a simple but contemporary format is the way to go.
- Proofread Your Application – and get someone else to do so as well – correct any spelling and grammatical errors, fix poor formatting, shorten parts that ramble. Ensure your application is cohesive, clear, concise and accurate – and conveys why you’re an ideal fit for the role.
Remember, it takes many recruiters just 20-30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so. Make your application stand out by highlighting your relevant skills and experience and providing a taste of the benefits you’ve achieved for previous employers.
If you would like assistance from a professional resume writer with putting together an application that helps get you shortlisted for more jobs, please see our CV and Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria writing services.
As a professional resume writer, I am often asked this question from clients. My experience indicates that many employers will not even consider candidates who do not include a cover letter with their application – it’s your chance to stand out from other applicants – so the answer is always a resounding YES!
Many clients come to us requesting a ‘general’ cover letter that addresses a variety of roles they would like to apply for in the future. Whilst this can be achieved, I can’t stress enough the importance of specifically targeting your cover letter to individual roles. I always advise clients to modify their cover letter to specifically suit each role they apply for and never just reuse the same letter.
It’s important that the recruiter immediately identifies with you as someone who could do their job well. This means you need to spend some time analysing the role you are applying for and matching the requirements to your own skills and experience.
Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to making it to the top of the recruiter’s pile:
- Be Succinct – clearly and briefly (no more than one A4 page) highlight why you are an ideal candidate. Do take care not to be too brief though. Don’t simply state that you think you’d be great in the role and refer the recruiter to your attached resume. Provide an overview of your background, summarise the relevant parts of your resume, and identify yourself as perfect for the role.
- Cross Match Your Skills – Sit down with the job ad and/or position description and go through it in detail – work out where your strengths lie. Make notes on all the areas you’d like to focus on. Your cover letter should highlight applicable skills, experiences, qualifications, achievements, projects and general knowledge, then demonstrate (again briefly) how they match the specific requirements of the role.
- Add Value – Take the time to do some research into the company and mention why you would like to work for them – highlight similar roles you’ve held or companies you’ve worked for and how that experience might help you succeed in this role. Make sure you mention relevant achievements or projects.
- Request Contact – Always ensure your contact details are prominent on the cover letter and ask for an opportunity to discuss your experience / background further. Make sure you include your email address and mobile phone number at a minimum.
Don’t mention anything in the cover letter that isn’t mentioned in your resume and focus on ‘what’s in it for them’ – the employer needs to feel compelled to shortlist you for the job – so give them a reason to do so. Good luck!
If you are interested in getting assistance from a professional CV Writer to prepare a winning cover letter for your next job application, please see our CV Writing Services.
Many job seekers come to us unsure about whether or not they need a LinkedIn profile. The fact is, many recruiters and employers now use LinkedIn extensively to source candidates. This includes advertising positions on LinkedIn as well as conducting proactive searches to find passive candidates. As well, many roles don’t even make it to recruiters with LinkedIn networks fulfilling them before they’re even advertised.
LinkedIn is not just useful when searching for a new job – when you join LinkedIn, you’re also gaining access to people, news, updates, and insights that will help you advance your career. You can exchange ideas with others in your industry and easily stay in touch with past colleagues and clients.
Since LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 200 million members around the world and more than 3 million members in Australia, we think it’s vital for candidates to have a strong profile written with relevant keywords in mind. Your LinkedIn profile needs to be easy to find by recruiters and interesting enough to get noticed by people within your immediate and extended network.
If you don’t have a profile yet, I suggest you join up. Try to complete as much information as you can – at a minimum ensure you have the following:
- a photo – professional head and shoulders shot;
- headline – use all the available characters to create your own personal brand;
- summary – focus on who you are, what you do, key strengths, and what you offer employers;
- education – include everything to provide more opportunities for connections;
- roles – include as many as you can – again this provides opportunities for connections (as well as recommendations) – include specific detail for roles covering at least the past 10 years; and
- skills & expertise – think broad here and include everything you want to be known for.
A few tips to get you started:
- If you’re looking for a new job, use a personal email address to sign up.
- Aim to achieve and maintain an ‘All Star strength’ profile – see the ‘profile strength meter’ on the right side of your profile for more information.
- Invite contacts to join your network – don’t be afraid to contact all your current and previous colleagues, managers, clients, classmates, friends etc. across all your business networks.
- Ask for recommendation(s) for every role held.
- Follow companies that interest you.
- Always keep your profile up to date.
There’s a whole raft of additional information that can be included in your LinkedIn Profile which is where you can start to add significant value. Join groups and interact with them, add interests, projects you’ve worked on, courses/certifications you’ve achieved, awards you’ve received, language skills, publications you’ve contributed to, articles you’ve written, and information on volunteering and causes where appropriate.
Remember, LinkedIn profiles are different to resumes. The content should be more general, concise and web-friendly. LinkedIn is your opportunity to create your own personal brand, so don’t be afraid to inject some personality.
If you need assistance from a professional LinkedIn Profile Writer to help you create a keyword optimised profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing Services.
What’s NOT in your resume is almost as important in making that all important first impression as what IS in there. Your resume will probably be one of many received, so give yourself the best chance at getting noticed for all the right reasons!
As a resume writer, people often ask me why I don’t include certain information. Here’s a quick list of what I never include and why.
Career Objective: Don’t waste words stating what you want. Put yourself in the employers’ shoes. Your resume needs to scream “What’s in it for me?” from their perspective. We suggest including a Career Overview that provides a snapshot of you, your relevant qualifications, skills and experience and the value you could bring to the role.
Lies: Never exaggerate your responsibilities or achievements. 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.
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.
Quirky Email Addresses: Having a 007 or Catwoman email address might be 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.
Personal Blogs, Facebook or Twitter Accounts: If you have a Linkedin profile, include a link, but never point employers to personal social media accounts. They will often find something not to like – and if they wanted to, they could probably find it on their own anyway. Don’t tempt fate and always exclude these.
Unfinished Degrees: Especially if they were more than a couple of years ago – fair enough if you put study on hold for personal reasons but not if it was 10 years ago – it could highlight commitment issues in the employer’s mind so I recommend excluding it altogether. For study currently underway – always state your ‘anticipated completion date’ so the employer knows how far along you are.
High School Details: Unless you have just left school, it’s not necessary. If you have tertiary qualifications, or some work history behind you, there is no need to include high school information.
Personal Information: It’s not necessary to include age, height, weight, marital status, children, health, religious, cultural or political associations so don’t waste space by doing so.
Spelling or Grammatical Errors: Goes without saying really, but this is a big one. Always triple check your content and don’t submit an application with mistakes. Again, recruiters report a big reason to cull is spelling or grammatical errors.
You don’t usually get a second chance to make a first impression. Your resume is your first step in the door – if you don’t put your best foot forward, your physical foot may never make it in that door!
If you are interested in having your resume written by a professional resume writer, please see our Resume Writing Services.