Want a job? Read your resume!
March 28, 2016 by Stuart Rawlins
Ever wondered why you’re just not getting any call backs or interviews for the jobs you are applying for? My question is ‘how many resumes do you have and how often do you change that resume?’ If your answer is ‘one and never’ then this article may just be the ticket you need to get you onto that short list or called up for that interview. The bonus is that you can make the change!
How do I know this? Because I have been through this myself from three different angles! Yes I have been in the position where I have thrown my one and only resume that says how great I am, at no less than 67 jobs without a result, not even an interview or call back. Not..a..cracker!
I have been in the position where I applied for three jobs, two of which were regional management roles in fields that I had never directly worked in and was shortlisted and interviewed for all three of them.
As a manager, employing staff, I have also been in the position numerous times where I have had to wade through literally hundreds of job applications to identify a short list of less than ten.
My experience in changing between the first and second scenarios went on to allow me to make informed decisions in the third task. To put it simply, you need more than one resume! You can’t have one resume and expect it to address all of the job or selection criteria for every job you apply for. You can’t rely on the recruiter or employer to have the time to read through your generic spiel about how amazing you are and how your skills from your previous roles may be transferable into the role you are applying for. It just doesn’t work like that.
The same line of thinking should be reflected in your covering letter as well, you have to get away from the one-size fits all, generic, I am great, sweeping generalised statement of a covering letter. Why? Because it simply won’t get read passed the first few sentences or at all, particularly if they use an electronic scanning program and it certainly won’t make you stand out to the recruiter or employer who is wading through hundreds of other resumes.
The one main reason I didn’t get a single call back or interview from those 67 job applications is simple, I didn’t specifically address the selection criteria for the job in both my resume and my covering letter. I didn’t use specific outcome based information on how I had met the selection criteria with experience from my previous roles.
Unfortunately I was relying on Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results” to get me a job, hence it didn’t work! Think to yourself how, much did you change your resume and covering letter for the last job you applied for? Was it just the address line on the covering letter or did you go through the selection criteria or job description and tweak your resume and covering letter to specifically provide outcome based information relative to what is involved in the new role?
As I previously mentioned, it just takes time, and time that some people who are looking for work don’t think to use wisely. Your focus should be on quality, not quantity when applying for roles.
Now let’s get into the guts of it and look at what I have been going on about.
Say for example you are the owner of a busy timber retail business and your office is so busy that you need to hire another administration worker to assist in processing the invoices that come in. You place your advert in the hope of hiring someone that can handle a heavy workload without making errors.
Consider the two different statements below from two different applicants. Which one would you hire?
- “I have worked in a busy office processing invoices and answering phone calls from customers along with serving customers at the counter whilst providing high levels of customer service”; or
- “In my previous role as office manager at Jetson’s Courier Service one of my duties was to process all incoming invoices within a twenty four turnaround period from the time of receipting. The office averaged between 300 – 400 invoices per month and during the last six months of completing this task, the twenty four hour turnaround period was met on all occasions with a nil error rate in invoice processing.”
The difference is obvious; the second applicant quantifies their statement with specific information that clearly outlines their capabilities. The first applicant doesn’t do this. It isn’t clear to the potential employer what a busy office means, in this instance. Does this mean processing 35 invoices per month in a small family business? The only question you want the person reading your resume to be asking is ‘When can you start?’ It should be clear, complete, concise and correct.
Yes, for certain, build a base resume with the kind of job you want in mind but the trick is to update/change it for every job you apply for. Before you think I don’t have the time to do that! I am not saying re-write your resume for every job you apply for, I am merely stating you have to review/tweak/adjust/update your resume for each application.
This means reading about and understanding the role you are applying for, looking for and adjusting the examples or role activities in your resume to suit the role you are applying for.
If the role you are applying for is an administration officer or clerk and specifically talks about the types of activities or tasks you will be required to complete, then make sure you refer to those tasks or requirements. That means if you have completed the same type of tasks in your previous roles make sure you state this clearly and back it up with some specific and measured information or outcomes like the ones mentioned in example (b) above.
Below are a few quick tips to follow.
- A short sharp snapshot of you and how you meet the requirements of the role;
- Provide some specific statements or examples of how you meet those requirements (i.e. If it is a training role, state your relevant training qualification); and
- It must be aesthetically pleasing and professional to the reader with no grammatical or formatting errors.
- The information you provide about your previous roles includes detailed information/examples/outcomes, specific to the requirements outlined in the job description or key selection criteria, provided by the employer;
- The list of qualifications in your resume is only relative to the industry/role you are applying for (i.e. For a construction job you don’t need to list all of your qualifications for flying small planes or scuba diving);
- Your resume is not full of sweeping and generalised statements about your experience relative to the role you are applying for; and
- Your resume stands out to the reader with its formatting/template/colour and is aligned with the type of industry you are looking to enter (i.e. Your resume set-out/colour/template would be significantly different when applying for a job at a party and entertainment company as opposed to a law firm)
The information in this article is not new, it is not a secret and it’s not something that I have just made up. Most people looking for a new job or changing jobs/careers don’t take the time to tailor their resume and covering letter. I have no doubt that you would dress appropriately if given an interview, in order to create a good first impression, but in order to get that interview, you must first create the good impression.
Take it from someone who has tried, failed and tried again. It works!
If finding the time to make the changes is a challenge or if you need a little further assistance in getting started on the right track, I may be able to assist. For a strictly confidential, cost-effective review of your existing resume against a job or role description contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
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