Saturday, 26 October 2013

Job searching: Some Application Basics (that a lot of people get wrong!)

Originally published at on 15 February 2013

Jobsearching Skills: Some Application Basics (that a lot of people get wrong!)

When I worked as receptionist for an Employment Service Provider, the one thing that really struck me about applicant resumes is that most people have no idea how to create a good one (including half the consultants creating them!)

Before you build or revise your resume, you need to know what type of job you will be applying for.  This will allow you to showcase the key skills and experiences relevant to the position type sought.  If you are applying for different types of work, then you will fare much better if you have a resume tailored to each type.

For example, when I was applying for jobs closer to home, even though I was really after an Employment Consultant position (a self-promotion for which I had no direct experience) in a narrow radius from my home address of no more than thirty minutes travel, I was also applying for Administration and Reception roles as well (for which I was directly skilled).

Now some people might combine all these closely related skills into one resume and send that out, but I learned the importance of tailoring your resume to suit each and every position on offer, so I presented my skills, qualifications and experiences in different ways to match employer needs.

With my applications for Employment Consultant positions, I highlighted my (developing) Case management skills, my skills in motivating people, my experience with working with individuals and small groups, and my resume writing abilities.

Yet, for Reception positions, I focused more heavily on my previous roles in Frontline Managing roles, including listing details of ability to answer a multiline switchboard and busy front counter, and how I successfully handled high-volume incoming calls and walk-ins.

Highlighting which software programs I am familiar with, and at what level I could operate at was more suitable for the Administration roles, as well as including details of my typing speed and accuracy level, and my organisation and prioritisation skills.

I always send out a cover letter with every application I make. And the best technique I can share in relation to this is to start by grabbing a highlighter and the job advertisement, and highlight the key (essential) requirements for the role, and then review your resume. 

Are each of these key skills and requirements mentioned in the resume?  Yes, excellent!  But are they up front, or buried so the employer has to really search to gain this detail?  If buried, bring the detail(s) up to the first three quarters of the first page of your two page resume.  No?  Then you have some work to do adding the details to your resume.

Then, with your cover letter, provide a brief professional history of your skills and experiences, ensuring you clearly mention the employers top three requirements.

Remember that all employers only care about their own needs and requirements, not that of the applicants. Your goal is to showcase how your skills, qualifications and experiences meet the employers’ needs and wants.  If they list ten essential details, then the more you can address then the better your chances the employer will want to contact you over the other applicants. But if you don’t have them all, still apply anyway and during an interview discuss your like to learn or train.

In this modern age, you don’t need to include your full address, age or state your marital status.  Actually, by including these unnecessary details you could inadvertently be turning an employer off. Most HR Managers are intelligent people even if you aren’t, so you don’t want to upset them by using outdated resume templates and list the same skills as every other applicant using the same templates.

Once you are about five years out of school, you no longer need to include your hobbies or personal interests.  These were only meant to demonstrate school leaver’s interests and abilities, not those of adults.

But, next time you look at an ad and think ‘I might not be suitable’ rethink that.  Most skills are transferrable.  What you did in a school or voluntary capacity can transfer well as relevant skills and experience in a paid capacity. You just need to value that you do possess skills that are useful in a work environment.