How I Updated My Resume And Got Job Offers After 8 Years Out Of The Corporate Workforce

I’m a big believer in practising what I preach. I’m also very keen on testing, re-testing and testing my resume again.

I don’t think it would be fair of a resume writer to sit behind a desk all day telling job seekers how to write a resume, what to include, what not to include, how to position yourself for a new job, how to change careers, or how to write a resume to re-enter the paid workforce after a career break, if I hadn’t tried and tested any of things I recommend myself.

So, once a year, sometimes twice, I update my resume, tweak my LinkedIn profile, and check that everything is current, just in case I’m asked to send a copy of my own resume for some contracting work. Once a year, I also set up some job alerts on Seek (Australia’s leading online job board), and wait for jobs that sound interesting to me to land in my inbox.

When they do, I get busy yet again with my resume, tailoring it to suit the jobs on offer that I’m pretty confident I could do, and have experience in, or transferable experience and skills, and I send off some job applications.

I get out the guidelines we give our resume clients and work through the steps so I can see things exactly how they do, at the same time updating and amending our top tips for getting a resume that will get job interviews. I also run my own resume through an applicant tracking system so I can test and score my resume against a job advertisement, so I know I have the best chance of getting invited to job interviews.

It’s a brilliant exercise in my mind. Firstly, it puts me right into the very same position my clients are in when searching for a job. Getting back into the head space of my job seeker / career-changer / re-entering the workforce clients keeps my feet on the ground, my advice current and relevant, and constantly reminds me just how hard it is to get noticed in an incredibly crowded job market where employers and recruiters seem to have the pick of the bunch.

It also makes me really anxious – because all of a sudden, I’m riding the job-seeker roller coaster that every single one of my resume clients does when we first connect.

I always learn a few new tricks from the exercise too, that I happily pass on to my clients, so they can learn from my experience.

The response has been amazing, not necessarily in a good way.

As of today, I’ve applied for 8 advertised jobs, all of which I am qualified (or overqualified) for, and have direct experience in. While the sample size isn’t yet significant, it is enough for me at this point to draw some conclusions about the current status of my resume, how my resume is being responded to in the current job market, and the process I’m following in my hypothetical 2017 job search.

For 4 of those jobs, (no longer advertised following 28 days on Seek), I’ve not even had the courtesy of an email of acknowledgement confirming receipt of my application.

I was absolutely convinced that I would get a call back from the very first job that I applied for (just like my clients!) I ticked every single box. I had the qualifications. I had the experience. I even had an extra qualification and medical experience that I was convinced would blow them away when they realised how much value I presented as a candidate. My resume was a 99% match when I ran it through the ATS. I did my research on the company. I found out who to address my letter to, read up on the decision maker, and researched some of the new work they were doing so I could include relevant examples of my experience doing something similar, and how it could help them move this new work to the next level. I actually went to sleep that night feeling a little smug because I was so absolutely sure that they would be on the phone the minute they read my resume and cover letter. Only thing is, that didn’t happen. In fact, nothing happened. No acknowledgement. No rejection. Nothing.

Not only do I find this insulting (as many of my clients do), but it astounds me that these organisations don’t realise the reputational damage they’re doing to themselves. Seek couldn’t make it any easier for recruiters to do this, given that it has a built-in feature that enables recruiters to send a generic email of acknowledgement. Many jobs also list the contact details, including direct email address and telephone number of advertisers, so when that happens, I also apply through Seek, and also send a copy direct.

Many of my clients have told me they quietly make note of those ‘non-responders’, determined to shun them in future as possible employers and product or service providers,  just as they have to them as job candidates.

Personally, I take it as a sign that if this is how an organisation treats a potential employee, the way they treat their paid workforce isn’t going to be any better, so I’m better off right from the start because they’ve already shown their true colours.

Just last week, I spent 6 hours carefully tweaking my resume and a cover letter to suit the job on offer.

You heard right! 6 hours … 6 hours carefully tweaking my resume and a cover letter to suit the job on offer.

I swapped out any irrelevant experience. I re-ordered my skill sets so the ones they were most interested in for the role were top of the list. I added a little over the most relevant key words so they would jump off the page for a skim-reader.

I detailed very specific examples (using the Challenge | Action | Result process) alongside each response to the essential and desirable selection criteria.  I included weighty facts and figures to substantiate my claims. I included a recent testimonial to add social proof, and even when to the trouble of creating a micro-website to showcase some experience I had in past marketing career, because the advertisement had asked for examples.

The early bird gets the worm. 

For another advertised position, I received an email response from a recruitment agent advising the role had been filled. It had been advertised for 18 hours by the time I submitted my application.

All credit to the recruitment agent however, because we did enter into a number of email exchanges in follow up, during which it was divulged that they were inundated with applications for the role (30 applications within the first 30 minutes) and as a result, they immediately started screening resumes (using applicant tracking software).

They then telephone interviewed 3 candidates within 4 hours and they even did a face-to-face interview with one candidate later that very same afternoon, and that candidatewho immediately received (and accepted) an offer.

So by the time I had tailored my application the night before pressing ‘apply here’, and emailed it off the next morning, one very happy job seeker was handing in their resignation letter from their previous employer and looking forward to their role starting 2 weeks later. One hour wasted the night before, and my application never stood a chance. The same could be said for the no doubt numerous other applications they received, as the job remained advertised on Seek for another 5 days. As they say, the early bird …

All in a week’s work. 

For another role, I applied for the job at 9:00 am on the Monday. Got the job offer at 3:00 pm on the Friday of that week. For this particular role, ego suitably bruised having had no acknowledgement or responses to my previous 4 applications, I now had no expectations whatsoever when I pressed ‘send’. But then I received an email response and invitation to interview less than 5 minutes after I had submitted my application. 4 days later I was interviewed. 15 minutes into the interview, I received a job offer. Quite possibly the quickest recruitment process I have ever participated in.

My takeaway? The process can be really quick if you’re the perfect job candidate.

It’s OK to ask what the salary range is.

One job for which I was really suited and was made an offer for, came down to salary. Rookie mistake on my part because I always advise clients that they should ensure that no matter how amazing the job will is, that the salary must meet their expectations.

Don’t assume that because you are a perfect match for the role, that you will get an interview.

Back to my 6 hours tailoring my resume and creating a micro-site to showcase my collateral … well, I did get a response. 4 days after submitting my application, and again, while the job advertisement was still active.

While I was ‘grateful’ to at least get the ‘thanks, but no thanks’ email, the thing is, they never bothered looking at 2 pages of the 3-page micro-site (how I know this is for me to explain another time). The email highlighted the high quality and calibre of the candidates, and necessary academic qualifications, the absence of which they used to justify my rejection. But I did have the qualification, along with another qualification that I know only 40 others have in tandem with the very specific academic credentials they requested of the applicants. I can only assume that was an oversight that I received that particular rejection email, or that they didn’t actually read what was on my resume and cover letter and micro-site, where I clearly detailed responses to the very specific selection criteria.

Should I have followed up to point this out? Perhaps. Would it have made a difference? I’ll never know, but it has highlighted yet another obstacle job seekers endure every day, and I can certainly empathise with the predicament.

Lessons:

  • Whenever recruiter contact details are listed on an advertisement, make contact with them (ideally by phone). It could save you hours if the role has already been filled, or the screening and shortlisting process has begun.
  • Just because a position is advertised on Seek, doesn’t mean there is still a position to fill. Recruiters may leave roles advertised that have actually been filled on Seek.
  • If a role does not list a salary*, it is OK to ask what the range is, if you get invited to interview. What waste your time (and the interviewers) if the role was to present a significant downturn in salary for you, that you weren’t prepared to accept, no matter how great everything else with the job sounds? We’re all working to pay our bills and finance our lifestyles, right?

Resume Objective Statements

News Flash: Employers don’t care what your career objective is!

What they DO care about is THEIR bottom line.

It’s time to get a little controversial! We’re getting rid of the resume objective statement and bringing in a summary or positioning statement.

We’re getting rid of the resume objective statement and bringing in a summary or positioning statement.

Prove that you’re the best candidate for the job with a laser-focused positioning statement that screams, “I’m the best candidate for the job, and here’s my track record to prove it!”

 

Is This How To Get A Job Interview?

Is this how to get a job interview? French study reveals that women wearing low-cut top are 19 times more likely to get job interviews. And We Thought All It Took Was A Brilliant Resume!

Whoa! Whaaatt? Surely this can’t be true? All this time we thought all you needed was a cracking resume! Clearly not, at least in France, where the study took place.

It seems that CV Saviour might need to rethink the guidelines we give our clients for LinkedIn profile photos. One thing is for sure, we are not for minute going to suggest that you go put your photo on your resume (or a photo of yourself in a low-cut top either. For starters, images can cause all sorts of issues for ATS systems so you resume might not get read in the first place!) however, we will be watching the outcome of further research by the author (also responsible for the study “The Impact of Beauty during Job Applications” with interest.

The study has been widely reported in the lead up to the Appearance Matters Conference – the world’s largest event on body image and disfigurement. The conference will see more than 200 appearance experts from across the world tackle issues including weight loss surgery, eating disorders and ‘ultra-thin’ dolls. Dr Kertechian decided to research the impact clothing had on the recruitment process after realising it had never been studied.

Here’s the article from news.com.au,

TO BE honest, we found this new research out of France a little surprising. 

We thought the only reason you’d present yourself in a low-cut top when applying for a job would be if that job was at Hooters. But it seems that we’ve got that all wrong.

A new study carried out in Paris has shown that female applicants were more successful in securing job interviews when pictured wearing a low-cut top.

Sevag Kertechian, a researcher based at the Paris-Sorbonne University decided to research the impact clothing had on the recruitment process after discovering that it had never been properly studied.

Over the course of three years as job advertisements in the sales and accounting field arose, DR Kertechian put two fictional women forward for the roles.

In the face they look almost identical and in the application they had near identical skills and experience.

job interview clothes, what to wear to job interview,

To ensure the experiment was fair each woman was forwarded for 100 roles wearing the revealing outfit and 100 jobs in the more traditional clothing (the photograph was attached to their application).

What he found was that the woman wearing the low-cut dress captured the attention of the recruiters more successfully. And the difference was substantial — the woman in the more revealing outfit was 19 times more likely to secure a face-to-face interview.

Of the 200 sales role applications, the low-cut dress submissions received 62 more interview offers than their counterparts.

From the 200 accountancy applications there were 68 more interview offers for the more provocatively-dressed woman.

There are a few things to consider here that limit the findings a little. Firstly, the experiment was conducted in France and maybe employees in different parts of the world have different … values.
It’s also important to note that the experiment only covered two sectors of the workforce: sales and accounting.

Finally, this is operating on the assumption that people attach a photo to their resume when they apply for a job. While this isn’t such a common practice in Australia, perhaps we should all be reconsidering our LinkedIn profile pic.

Dr Kertechian said: “Our results showed interesting trends as low-cut dresses significantly influenced the choice of the recruiters, even for accounting positions.

“Regardless of the job, whether customer-facing saleswoman or office-based accountant, the candidate with the low cut clothing received more positive answers.

“The results were quite shocking and negative but not necessarily surprising — they show we need to conduct more research.”

Clearly!

 

How To Get Your Resume Noticed By Hiring Managers

There’s nothing worse than applying for one job after another, and hearing nothing back from recruiters. But how do you get your resume noticed when hundreds are applying for the same job as you?

A new study by Career Builder shows job seekers what hiring managers really want, and what job seekers need to do to increase their chances of getting to interview, but there are no surprises in what they’ve found …

For many job seekers, there’s nothing more discouraging than spending hours finessing your resume, crafting the perfectly worded cover letter, and filling out that tedious online application (Seriously? I just uploaded my resume, and I still have to fill in my entire work experience? IT MAKES NO SENSE!) – only to never hear anything back. What gives?

A new study from CareerBuilder may offer some insight. More than 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers nationwide (US) participated in a recent survey to determine what companies are looking for when they’re hiring, their biggest frustrations during the hiring process and what job seekers can do to increase their chances of being seen.

Be more than your resume – make it easy for the recruiter to find your skills and talents on your resume.

Just over half of employers surveyed (53%) say resumes do not provide enough information for them to accurately make an initial decision whether or not someone is a good fit for the job. (Perhaps that’s why so many employers are researching candidates on social media, according to an earlier CareerBuilder study.)

But here’s where you can help them fill in the gaps: In addition to a resume, 39% of employers say they want to see examples of work the candidate has done or an online portfolio (you can provide a URL to your portfolio or personal website in your resume), and 29% want a cover letter.

Another interesting finding? Nearly half of employers (48%) reach out directly to job seekers when they have an opening – all the more reason to build your personal brand through your resume, cover letters, online portfolio or personal website and social media presence. When you cover these bases, you can cut your job search efforts in half by increasing the chances of employers finding and approaching you.

Stay on an employer’s good side – give them the information they need to see on your resume, and don’t follow them up too frequently (or not at all!)

When it comes to employers’ biggest frustrations with candidates, their biggest complaint is having applicants who apply for positions for which they aren’t qualified (39%). Other pet peeves include:

  • Unrealistic expectations about salary/pay – 18%
  • Lying about their experience/qualifications – 13%
  • Checking in on progress too frequently – 8%
  • Resumes do not provide enough information about them – 8%
  • Not responsive enough – 8%
  • Resumes are poorly done – 4%

Are you guilty of any of these behaviours? If so, it might be time to adjust your approach to employers. For example, if you’ve been told that you have unrealistic expectations around salary, learn the right way to successfully negotiate salary. Feel you need to stretch the truth about your experience or qualifications to get the attention of employers? Try this approach instead. And find out how to follow up with employers and avoid these all-too-common resume mistakes.

Questions employers have about job seekers – how to make your resume stand out.

Think you’re the only one with questions? Turns out, employers are just as baffled by job seekers as job seekers are of employers. When asked about the top questions employers have about job seekers, here were their top answers:

  • Do their skills match what we want? – 77%
  • What are their current skills? – 75%
  • What is their work history? – 73%
  • What soft skills do they have? – 63%
  • Will they be a good company culture fit? – 61%
  • What is their salary expectation? – 50%
  • Will they stay with our company long-term? – 47%
  • Will they have the educational background we are looking for? – 47%
  • Why are they searching for a new job/career? – 46%

Get your professional resume now and get the job interview

Now that you have a better idea of the information employers want, make it easy for them to find. Address these points (briefly) in your cover letter (CV Saviour advises that you save the salary talk, and the reason for leaving a job for the interview, although there are certain circumstances where we might advise otherwise), or on your personal website or online portfolio.

How is your resume looking? Want some feedback on how you can improve yours? Take our free CV Health Check, or contact us for a quote for your professional resume.

This article by Mary Lorenz first appeared on CareerBuilder.

 

Resume Writing Quick Tip #3 – Add Hyperlinks

Want your resume to stand out to recruiters? Check out quick tip #3.

The 3rd in our series of super quick tips to help you get your resume right, right from the start. Add hyperlinks, and show your future employer just how tech savvy you are, and make it easy for them to learn more about you without leaving your resume. Find out how to add hyperlinks to your resume now.

Look out for quick tip #4, coming soon.