As a career consultant in Sydney, I have seen an array of job applications in my time. Across most resumes, I have seen a number of common errors which completely undermine the strength of any application.
If you are a job seeker who has been relentlessly job seeking for what feels like a life time, or you are just starting out the job seeking process, I urge you to take some notes as I am going to share my top 5 tips to help you craft your most strategic and powerful resume yet!
- Tailor! Tailor! Tailor!
This is not a joke. You should not use a generic resume for all your applications. Ever. Hiring managers can tell if you have not put any effort into your resume, and guess what that tells them? That you don’t care. This is not the type of message you want to be sending and will almost guarantee that you don’t end up being shortlisted.
- Be strategic
Don’t just dump information about everything you have ever done professionally into a document and hope for the best. Have a clear order for how you present your information and be very very selective with what information you include in your resume. Ensure all information is relevant to the job you are applying for. Always ask yourself, why am I including this, does it link to the job, and if so, how does it link? Always refer back to the job ad to help you identify how your skills, experiences, qualifications, volunteering experiences may or may not be relevant.
- Have a professional overview which acts as an anchor for the resume
I prefer the term ‘professional overview’ instead of the more conventional ‘career objective’ heading. By having a professional overview, you can provide a couple of sentences really aimed at aligning yourself with the role or industry you are applying for. It also gives you an opportunity to quantify your experiences and to highlight some key skills. Perhaps most importantly, it helps to focus the resume and shows the reader that you have tailored your resume.
- Evaluate your job responsibilities for every application
I know this part is tedious but it will pay off. Ensure that the way you are selling your job responsibilities is meaningful. In other words, always re-evaluate the things you have written for each of your jobs and ask yourself whether it showcases skills which are important to the job in question. Also ask yourself if the responsibilities highlight key achievements? If not then you need to either re-write your job responsibilities or do some tweaking to refine them.
- Think about who your references are
Think about what capacity your reference has seen you in. In other words, what skills or characteristics are they able to comment on? Just because you have listed a certain selection of individuals as references for previous applications does not mean you need to list the same set of references going forward. Above all, if you are going to list someone as your reference ask them for permission before doing so.
If you incorporate my suggestions and you focus on producing quality vs quantity of applications, you will be well and truly on your way to landing your desired job!