In my current role I have seen countless participants applying for jobs they had both the skills and experience for, but who were continuously missing out on an interview. Not only was this incredibly frustrating for them, it was also a blow to their confidence. Receptionists, project managers, personal care workers, chefs and engineers alike, they were all incredibly well qualified for the roles they were applying for. They also had one other thing in common – their resume was letting them down.
Problem #1 – Their resume was out-of-date
A resume is not a static document, it should always be evolving. Not only does the information within it need to be continuously updated, the overall structure of the document needs to move with the times. For example, whilst it was all the rage at one point to include a cover page with “RESUME OF…” emblazoned across it in 72 point font, in this day and age all that will do is make an employer roll their eyes and skip straight past your application. This is definitely not the kind of first impression you want to be making!
You also should make sure you resume is visually modern. Employers can and will make an initial judgement of your application based on how it looks, all without reading a single piece of text. Clean, clear sections with lots of white space are the order of the day whilst graphics, bright colours and borders should be banished immediately.
Problem #2 – Their resume was not properly targeted
One of the biggest mistakes people can make when applying for jobs is not correctly targeting their resume to the position they are applying for. Including irrelevant information, such as incomplete qualifications from a different industry, makes it harder for employers to quickly assess how suitable you are for the role. Make their job easier by ensuring all the information included is presented in a way that highlights just how great a fit for the role you are.
Speaking of how your information is presented, don’t underestimate the importance of how you order that information. There is no hard and fast rule that your employment history must come first. Whichever section is most relevant to the position should be listed first. For example, if you have previously worked in retail and are applying for a role in Aged Care, in which you have just completed training, then the Training section (and your relevant qualification) should be listed before your Work History.
Problem #3 – Their resume didn’t provide context
Whilst employers want to know what you have done in previous roles, it is not enough to simply list your tasks. What you really need to do is highlight the skills you demonstrated as part of that duty. So, for example, rather than stating “Completed maintenance logs” you should say something like “Accurately completed electronic maintenance logs and other related documentation for reporting purposes”. This shows that you can accurately enter data, have attention to detail, have reasonable IT skills and are experienced with reporting.
Problem #4 – Their experience was not quantified
Employers love figures when reviewing applications, it helps give them a clear idea of exactly what level of experience someone has had. For example, if an applicant simply states “Increased traffic to organisation website” the employer would immediately ask “by how much?” Was it 1%, 2%? That’s not very impressive. Over what time period? 6 months? A year? Without these details the statement means nothing.
A far better way of stating the same thing is to say “Increased traffic to organisation website by 15% over a 2 month period”. This takes the guess work out and shows the employer exactly what you have achieved.
If you have been applying for countless jobs and not getting a single call back, try these tips – I guarantee your phone will soon be ringing off the hook!
By Christina Matthews.
If you need help updating your resume, book in for one of the Skills & Jobs Centre resume workshops in Geelong or Werribee.