When it comes to applying for a job, or producing a document from a contact who says “give me your CV”, you want to know that you are giving yourself the best chance for success. The trouble is, getting it right can be tricky, especially when it is about YOU – and you may find it hard to be objective and sell your best points. These tips can help you to look good, on paper!
1. Who is your audience?
Like any marketing – you need to know who you are selling to. Is it a large corporate, small business, not-for-profit? What industry? What about the person who is hiring? What do they expect, what are they looking for? There are many “rules” out there about how long a resume should be, what font, look, categories etc. should be included. However, the most important thing is that you tailor your resume / CV appropriately. This means being flamboyant if you are pitching to a job in the creative industries such as a makeup artist. It means being more conservative if it’s a small accounting firm. It may mean a one-page pitch if you are in New York, it could be 3-4 pages convention in Perth. Or, it may be a long curriculum vitae required for an academic role.
Even if you are applying for one particular role in one industry, there is no “one size fits all” approach here. Be lazy at your peril! Your resume must be tailored to fit the audience, which will change slightly for each and every application you do. Yes, this can take hours… How do you know what will hit the mark? Ask. Ask people in the industry, ask the HR people in that industry, ask recruiters, ask the person who has placed an advertisement for a job, if you can. The more you know about what they are looking for and expect, the better you can target your resume.
2. Looking good
Unfortunately it needs to be said. The format of your resume is important, as is the spelling, punctuation, grammar, spacing and layout of information, fonts – type, size and colour, use of headers and footers. Attention to detail is a must. If you are not strong in these areas, get help from someone who is. We can help!
3. Relevant content
Again, this is about appropriateness for your audience. You may decide not to include a part-time job at Joe’s Diner fifteen years ago, however if the job you are going for has a hospitality element to it (maybe ordering supplies etc.) it may be useful. This is where you need to be discerning. Rule of thumb is to keep jobs within 10 years in your employment history and make the rest “full employment history available on request.”
However, if you do have something highly relevant, but from a long while ago, you can draw attention to it in your cover letter. Don’t forget that you are not forced into a chronological resume – you can enter the heading “Relevant Employment History”. Always remember that this document is your pitch on paper – show yourself in the best light whilst meeting your audience – your prospective employer.
4. Bring You to Life
Rather than just listing duties and responsibilities under your work history, include some Achievements. These don’t need to be “Employer of the Month” type of achievements (hey, great if they are!). They can be that you devised a new system to make ordering process speedier with less error, or that the absentee rates fell dramatically under your leadership. Try to include metrics (the numbers i.e., reduced absenteeism by 60%) as well as descriptions.
5. Show Yourself
No-one really likes to read a bland resume. Reveal a little about yourself (you can bet that you will also be checked out on social media!). Mention some of your interests – keep them real but also relevant. If you happen to know that the Managing Director is a lifetime member of a particular football team that you support – it may be advantageous for you to mention this, under interests. With the aid of the internet, you can find out quite a lot about your potential employers, and they about you. Mention relevant associations and clubs you belong to. Include a section on Community Service or Community Involvement is important.
Most large companies have a Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and like to hire people who are willing to volunteer and embrace a philanthropic culture. This is very important when pitching to a not-for-profit or philanthropic role – you need to demonstrate a “good fit” with their culture. Reveal what you care about – whilst being mindful of relevance . What would most interest and impress this particular employer? There are many nuances to taking an OK or good resume to a brilliant one.
I hope the above has helped you on the path to pitching you on paper, brilliantly. For assistance in preparing your self marketing documents, eg. a resume or CV, we have Professional Positioning Packages for you to choose from.