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?

Australian Job Prospects in 2017 Are Looking Up

Workers in IT, System Engineers, Infrastructure Projects, Corporate Governance All Set For Higher Salaries in 2017 …

In an article in news.com.au, it seems that much needed and long awaited salary increases are to be expected in 2017 for those in certain sectors of the job market. 

It’s no secret now that businesses know that to remain competitive, they need to invest in building strong tech teams to find newer and better ways of solving problems, reducing costs, improving efficiency and delivering better products. And in order tot do that, it seems that they’re prepared to invest in getting the right talent into those jobs, according to a recent study. Read on for more …

DON’T dis the IT guru: he or she could be eyeing off a $50,000 pay rise this year.

That’s the forecast from the latest annual salary survey from recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, which predicts Australians working in technology, infrastructure and corporate governance are most likely to be on the receiving end of double-digit wage growth on 2017.

IT workers or system engineers in Sydney salaries are forecast to increase 45%: they’ll be able to command $160,000, up from $110,000.

The Robert Walters survey of about 950 hiring managers and 1800 professionals also found NSW is where it’s at to nab the second-biggest percentage pay rise: funds and operational analysis workers can expect a 33% jump from $60,000 to $80,000

The study found the Australian economy is adjusting to a “new normal, without the previous powerhouses of resources and construction propelling it forward” to reveal a buoyant recruitment market with specific areas of high demand.

And high-demand workers don’t just want cash. They are demanding more flexible working conditions as well.

So who is hiring in 2017?

“We expect increased hiring across IT, corporate governance, and state government infrastructure projects,” the report says.

“Within the technology sector, we anticipate intensified competition for big data, data security, DevOps and data analytics skillets.
“Across all major corporates, further regulation and focus on risk management and compliance will drive further growth. Close cost management and a requirement to extract maximum value from major long-term contracts will ensure demand for skilled procurement professionals.”

Australia wide, federal and state government investment in massive infrastructure projects will see construction and engineering professionals also able to command bigger wages.

And for those doing the hiring, the report advises the lure of dollars alone may not be enough to retain, or attract the best staff.
There are three key Australian industries that are handing out five-figure pay rises to employees this year.

“While financial reward remains a key incentive for job seekers it is not the only major driver,” the report says.
“Both generational change and technological advancements have influenced job seekers to place higher value on flexibility as well as reward, culture and long-term career development.

“We strongly advise hiring managers … to become competitive in these areas, not just focusing on salary and financial incentives.”

Strong IT, finance and business sectors mean NSW is expected to be the home of the majority of big wage winners in Australia.
The survey points more than ever to a need for specialist skills: with the banking sector being a case in point.

While the big banks may be keeping a careful eye on costs, “those working in banking and financial services can generally expect a moderate increase in salary in 2017, unless they can offer specialist skills and performance delivery above the norm”.

“Economic conditions have led hiring managers to demonstrate moderation when offering remuneration packages,” the report says.

But new legislation, and increased scrutiny, mean individuals working in areas such as compliance, assurance or operational risk with experience in change delivery will be highly sought after.

“The superannuation industry will be more competitive and there will be demand for more commercially minded candidates due to changes around default funds,” the survey found.

But IT remains where it’s at.

“IT professionals with niche and emerging skill sets such as Big Data, DevOps, cyber security and Cloud collaboration were in high demand and could command higher rates of pay in 2016,” the survey found.

“In 2017 we expect to see similar trends continue Australia-wide, and as demand for emerging skill sets increases and the skill gap widens, this will create a scarcity in the market and companies will need to be prepared to pay higher salaries, focus on flexible work arrangements and have defined career pathways to win over professionals with these specialist skill sets.”

With thanks to news.com.au.

And Our View on Skills and Experience Recruiters will be Looking for on Job Seeker Resumes to get these jobs?

In contrast, for recent graduates, the early indicators are that it’s going to be tougher to crack the market than ever before. With so much talent to choose from, and very little to distinguish between candidates, recruiters can afford to be choosy. Mass hiring and big packages are likely to decline.

Employers have now learnt that that they can easily outsource task-based jobs, and will continue to do so, so skills such as creativity and analysis (and providing evidence in your resume that you have these skills) will certainly help job applicants at every career stage.

Soft skills, written and verbal communication, and being able to work in complex team environments continue to be important, as organisations know that high-performance teams are built with the strong skills sets of many individuals.

Organisational fit (or culture fit) is even more important as employers seek to recruit talent that suits their working style and environment, and for progressive organisations, they will be doing everything they can to ensure diversity in the workplace so that they can get the best fit and talent from the individuals they hire, irrespective of what University job seekers went to, or what their previous employers names are. If that means introducing ‘name blind’ resumes or other tactics to remove unconscious bias, that’s what they’ll do.

Is Job Seeker And Resume Discrimination Real? What’s In A Name?

We’re often asked by job seekers who have ‘non-Western’ names if they might be being discriminated against in the job market because of their name …

We work with many overseas-born and international job seekers and over the years have gained a full appreciation of the many naming conventions that people may use and sensitivities around the issue of names used on resumes. While discrimination is illegal in Australia (see details of the relevant Act by clicking here), it is clear that name bias does occur.

We see it as our job as resume writers to remove as many barriers as possible to our clients being shortlisted for jobs and being contacted by recruiters.

This issue is considered so serious by the Victorian Government, that is has instituted a trial into ‘Name Blind’ resumes. In the trial, specifics such as names, ages, location and gender are to be removed from job applications. (As an aside, Age, Full Address and Gender should never be included in a resume anyway).

Sadly, we are very aware that names can sometimes give rise to conscious or unconscious bias, and the research now proves it, so the following may be helpful.

There are many points to consider here …

Firstly, and most importantly, it is critical that the job seeker is presented exactly as they are and that the job seekers is 100% comfortable with what they are referred to by name.

Personally, we don’t think anyone should have to alter their name for the sake of a job search, but we are very aware that sometimes names can be difficult to pronounce which may be an issue for less confident recruiters, or if it is not clear on your resume what they should call you when they make contact, or that names may cause unconscious bias or even discrimination, and there is now research to confirm the fact.

Research Into Name Discrimination On Employment Applications

Sadly, the facts speak for themselves. Research conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) showed that people from culturally diverse backgrounds need to submit more applications to receive job interviews compared with their Anglo-Saxon counterparts, even if they have the same qualifications.

A) Indigenous people needed to submit 35% more job applications for each job interview compared to Anglo-Saxon applicants.

B) Middle Eastern applicants needed to submit 64% more job applications for each job interview compared to Anglo-Saxon applicants.

C) Chinese applicants needed to submit 68%more job applications for each job interview compared to Anglo-Saxon applicants.

D) Italian applicants needed to submit 12% more job applications for each job interview compared to Anglo-Saxon applicants.

You can read more about the study by clicking here.

Considerations for Names on Resumes

1) You have a lengthy name, or are known by one of your ‘middle’ names.

It’s not unusual for some of our clients to ask that their full legal entity name is included on their documents,  even when they are known simply by a diminutive of one of their names. 

In our experience, it is perfectly acceptable to use the name on your resume that you wish to be known by. For example,  a client has a legal name of ‘James Nicholas Thomas Watson-Crowther-Brown’, but he has been called ‘Jim Brown’ all his life, so we create his documents as ‘Jim Brown’.

Given that a resume is not a legal document or contract, when Jim gets an offer of employment and has to sign a contract, he will need to include his full legal name on that document, and employment documents will usually include a space for ‘Known As’ or ‘Preferred Name’, in which case he will use the name James in that document, with his preferred name as Jim Brown.

In the typical Australian resume, just the first name that the job seekers is known by and called, is listed on the resume, and the last name (without including any middle names).

2) Your name is difficult to pronounce / might be difficult for someone else to pronounce

I  have a Gaelic first name (Catriona), but when giving my name to someone on the phone so I can be called back,  if I am asked to spell my name, I will often spell it out to people without the ‘o’ in it because so many don’t know the ‘o’ is actually silent in my name and in Gaelic, is pronounced differently to the way Australians think it is. My name also starts with a ‘C’ but most people recognise my name when spelled with a ‘K’ and when I say my name, their first instinct is to write it with a ‘K’ (Katrina). This is fine for me in most general circumstances because people can feel awkward when I correct them on the pronunciation when I have given them my full name spelled correctly, if they have then pronounced it incorrectly! 

As another example, many school-age children in Taiwan (who also learn English at school from an early age) choose a western name once they start school, and while it is not a legal name, they use it throughout their working careers when working in western environments to remove any issues with pronunciation and to help with ease of integration into western work environments. 

For clients whose name are difficult to pronounce, we may sometimes suggest spelling it phonetically next to their name, eg: Xanthe (pronounced Zan – thee) or to use another Gaelic name as an example, Caoimhe (pronounced Kweeva).

How to List Your Name on Your Resume

The bottom line here is that your resume is your document and a representation of you, and you need to be fully comfortable with it.

Options to consider for your resume:

1) List your name as your full legal name
2) List underneath your full legal name ‘known as Jim’ or ‘known as Jim Brown’ or words to that effect.
3) List your name as the name your are known by, with your full legal name underneath
4) List your name only as the name you wish to be known by Eg: Bella Smith
5) List your name with the phonetic spelling next to it, Eg: in my case Catriona (pronounced C – TREE – ar – nah)
6) List your name with both your full name and name you are known by Eg: Mary-Arabella (Bella) Smith
The debate on name-based bias continues, and you can read more about it here.

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!