Tag Archives: employer

Applicant Uses Resume, it’s super effective! … or is it?

When I was on the lookout for a new job I put a lot of thought into my resume a lot. Is it good enough? Will it draw enough attention? Did I write too much or too little? I was especially worried since there’s been so much youth unemployment in these past few months, with the economy still in the dumpster and financial government measures that promote hiring people above the age of 50, further smothering the chances for young graduates.36027932

These questions have been haunting my mind for the past few days. Time to take a look at it from a recruiter’s point of view and take off my applicant goggles.

I decided to think back to the time when I was doing an internship/student job at one of the largest temporary work agencies in the country. Part of my job was to scan through resumes to find the best candidates to invite for an interview. Obviously, I looked at the usual content of a resume: Name, address, education, work experience, skills, … Contrary to a lot of recruiters I took my time to thoroughly read to every application I came across. Some of them were sloppy, poorly written and full of mistakes. Some even had blatant lies on them. The resumes that stood out most were those with excellent credentials of course, but even more so were the ones that had a stylish and easy to scan lay-out.

So what exactly does a resume need to land you that interview? Obviously, it should contain the basics; personal details, work experience, education, skills and even hobbies. Naturally, it should also be made with a text editor such as MS Word (written cv’s are so 1800’s guys …) and sent in a PDF-format so your text and format will be kept intact. Below are some other basic tips that will help guide you on the path to a proper resume:

  • Don’t use a standard template
  • Check your spelling
  • Don’t write huge blocks of text
  • Adapt to the job opening
  • Less is more
  • Think about your lay-out

I think you’ll agree that these are self-evident, but nothing is less true. I’ll focus on the last 2 bullet points some more, because those are the ones I’ve been struggling with the most. Ideally, you’ll want to find that delicate balance between text and visuals. It’s a thin line, but if you get it right you’ll have yourself a killer resume that will help you stand out from most other applicants.

You need to convey enough information without cluttering everything up. Try to use key words, don’t write full sentences. I believe people need to focus more on their lay-out than they currently do. We mostly choose bland and basic templates. They’re quite boring and it’s clear that these do not stand out in a large stack. Try to put some ‘you’ in it and be creative. If a company doesn’t like your resume, you won’t get an interview. And so what? You probably wouldn’t even want to work there then. Remember, there is other fish in the sea (I have to remind myself of this sometimes).

In the end, these are just a few small tips to help you on your way. You’ll still have to do the work, and remember that your application letter and resume are only the first step towards landing a job. Its sole purpose is to get you an interview, no more, no less.

 

As a final point, I don’t think that the inability to find a steady job is due solely to a less-than-optimal resume. Part of the problem is obviously the current economic climate and all that follows in its wake (such as wonky government policies to increase employment rates). Recruiters are also part of the issue here since they can’t or won’t take the time to read through resumes that seem cluttered. I understand though, time is money and sifting through endless applications can be tedious, but on the other hand it seems like common courtesy to me to properly look through an application (and reply to it!). In the end, if you don’t take the time to read it all you might discard great assets to your company and/or clients.

I reckon it’s just a mindset that needs to be changed. Furthermore, we live in an age where traditional applications and resumes aren’t and shouldn’t be the norm for the newest generation of entry-level workers. Be creative. Try out a few different lay-outs or use specific skills needed in your field of expertise. Pitch them to your friends, family or your friendly neighborhood recruiter. Learn how to deal with (constructive) criticism and adapt to it.

And finally, there’s a lot of really nice tools and apps available for free on the internet that will help you create your own resume. It takes some effort, but the result will be great.

To help you along, here’s some links to a few examples:
 Mashable.com – Resume design

Demilked.com – Creative resumes

Piktochart – an app to make infographics, suited for resumes!

Remember, I’m not trying to get everyone to make resumes like this. They are just examples to get your thought process going.

PS: Check out this handy little tool: http://www.beworkhappy.com/. It needs a bit of work, but it’s a great initiative (Also, it Belgian #shamelesspromoting)

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Welcome, to the real world

With my recent first, somewhat awkward steps into my first real job I came to realize something that must have bothered a lot of people, both new employees and employers, before me. I’m talking about the very large gap between what we learn in school on the one hand and the skills that are needs to be successful in our first jobs on the other hand. For me personally my education was not at all adequate to prepare me for the tasks and responsibilities in my current position as an employee administrator. When I first started my job, there was a tsunami of information rushing towards me that threatened to overwhelm me, and I wondered why should didn’t prepare me for this. I could compare it to the movie, The Matrix, where our protagonist Neo has been living in a virtual world all his life without realizing it. He then gets torn out of that world and thrown into the real world which is darker and harsher, to which Morpheus says “Welcome, to the real world”. The resemblance is astounding.

Don’t get me wrong though, the direction(s)  followed and the school I went to are top-notch here in Belgium. The problem is that learning programs go out from the premise that the world is a perfect place and that everything operates in a vacuum. Of course, it does not. Unforeseen events both economical, personal and even meteorological events influence our daily routines and causes the course of all things, both large and small, to change.

Furthermore, our current education system provides a solid theoretical basis for us to build upon with experience gained through our first years in the workplace. But I fear we lack the most basic grasp of the world as it currently stands, the real world in which things change and go wrong. That, at least, is the case for us white-collar workers with our fancy Bachelors and Master degrees. No, the ones with a step ahead of us are blue-collar workers. They enjoyed a much more practical education with an adequate amount of hands-on experience which they gained by having teachers who have practical experience themselves. This is an advantage over being thought by people who start teaching fresh from school themselves, without any real experience.

Another advantage are the extended periods of traineeships trough which essential skills and behavioral competencies are acquired. Sure, there are traineeships for students in just about any direction but it’s only for a short period of time (usually a couple of weeks or months) during which a lot of students only get to do the most menial of tasks and thus, in a sense, operate in the same vacuum as they’ve been taught in school.

So, in essence I’m saying that we need to thoroughly rethink our education system on all levels. From primary school all the way to university. Just think about it, is learning Latin or Ancient Greek anything but a waste of time and effort? The course only exists to satisfy demanding parents and giving them the feeling that their child is somehow superior to others in their age group. That may put a little strong, but it’s how I experienced it. Learning a dead language does not offer any skills that can be used later in life. It’s the exact opposite because in reality it’s only setting these kids back further as opposed to their more ‘street-smart’ (for lack of a better term) counterparts.

Though not all is bad. Employers now realize now more than ever that extra education and coaching is needed for employees fresh out of the classroom. And governments are also realizing this, at last. In Belgium for example, we have a very clever and practical Minister of Education (Pascal Smet) who realizes that the current system is a relic of the past and is in dire need of an update.

I believe we should all strive for a better education system that provides the proper attitude and skill set for the real world. And that, is something everyone needs to work on. A better cooperation between companies, schools and governments is needed to pinpoint the problems and solve them with an eye to the future. In due time, I believe this will happen. I just hope it’ll be sooner, rather than later.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there a difference with your country or did you experience it differently? I’d like to hear about it, so don’t hesitate to drop me a line in the comment section below.

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