Tag Archives: Job opening

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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Things HR Never Says Out Loud

The HR department has been a thorn in the side of many a CEO and seen as a nuisance by employers en employees alike. It seems that HR is constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or so they teach us in college anyway.

The human resources department fulfills a crucial role in the organisation (as does any department I should add). Perhaps the most apparent activity we, as HR, fulfill is recruitment and selection. We make sure that new talent and skills keep flowing into the organisation.

Because recruitment and selection is one of the oldest and most important of HR activities we have become well-versed in reading and evaluating applicants by looking at their application letters, their resumes and during face-to-face meetings. There are, of course, things that we don’t tell applicants. In light of this, 10 American HR-professionals recently spoke freely in Reader’s Digest about their own recruiting-experiences. They mentioned things that you should pay attention to when applying for a job and things that recruiters pay attention to. Read the list below:

Incompetence

‘When you’ve been unemployed for over 6 months, you’re seen as incompetent or inadequate. We assume, unconsciously, that more than one employer have turned you down.
– Cynthia Shapiro, former HR-executive and author of ‘Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know’

This quote might seem quite blunt, but maybe she’s just being honest. Make sure you have an explanation for that ‘hole’ in your resumé! This is something I’ve experienced as well, gaps in a resumé without any proper explanation. And it doesn’t look good, I can tell you that.

Network

‘When talking about job applications, your network is very important. No matter how great your cv is, or the amount of experience you gathered. Connections are everything.’
– HR-director at a health organisation

This quote bothers me a bit personally, because I’m still at an entry-level and thus I don’t have any real, professional connections yet and a very limited experience. Especially in the current economic situation this might pose a problem as most job openings I read requests at least 2-3 years of experience.

Avoid HR

‘If you have a specific company in mind to work for, try to avoid the HR-department as much as possible. Try to gain access to the company through an acquaintance.’
– Shauna Moerke, HR-administrator and blogger on hrminion.com

I can relate to this statement. Many spontaneous applications get lost in a heap of paperwork never to be seen or used again. Also, many companies have a sort of refer-a-friend policy which increases your chances.

The danger of the email address

‘From an email address we can discern who you are, and you will be judged on that. Anyway, you promote prejudices by using a childish address such as kinkyboots101@hotmail.com.’
– Rich DeMatteo, recruiter consultant in Philadelphia


It’s true, even if you don’t want it to be I can assure you of that. If you’re a recruiter you will make a mental note of their email address if it is a childish one. Word to the wise: make an account just for professional contacts.

Key words

‘HR often uses systems who track key words. The secret to getting your resumé through the system is by copying the keywords from the job profile. The more matches, the larger the chance that your resumé will stand out and gets read by an HR-professional’
– Chris Ferdinandi, HR-professional in Boston

Colours

‘Resumes don’t need colour to stand out. With a bit of colour my smile disappears and an overdose of colour makes me cry. And going by the company to drop off your resumé is not done, it’s even frightening.’
Rich DeMatteo

I’m afraid I have to disagree here. A little bit of colour makes everything more pleasant to read (No, I don’t mean flashy pink text but some light colouring to highlight titles and headings). Moderation is key here though, it needs to stay light and readable.

That pretty much concludes the article I read and my views on it. I didn’t include everything from the article but I chose the ones that were the most interesting. I do have one more point to add here. A lot of applicants use template resumes, and it shows because it looks very standard and shows no creativity or individuality.It only takes a small amount of effort to personalize your resumé, and adjust it to match the job opening you’re applying for.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed the read and stay tuned for more!

/Niels

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