Tuesday
May022017

Perfect CV's and resumes are the key to your future success

When was the last time you updated your CV? I'd hazard a guess it was the last time you were out of work and needed to apply for a job.

During the mining boom in Western Australia, jobs were plenty and a CV was a nice to have rather than a mandatory requirement. Now the mining boom has almost finished and the jobs, what little there are of them are fiercely sought after and a CV has become essential.

If you had to apply for a job today, would your CV be up to date and ready to send?

Master documents and customised CV's:

Most people have a single CV which lists everything you've ever done since you've left school. This is the document we call your Master CV. Once you have completed something significant, add it to your master document. 

Our memories are a fickle creature, and it can be easy to forget significant achievements and courses we've been on.

BUT - This should never be sent to a prospective employer. 

Customizing your CV - What should your CV contain?

Your CV / Resume is not a once size fits all document, as we mentioned you should have a master document and you should then customize different versions of this master for the different types of position you are applying for.

No, this is not about fudging the truth, rather ensuring you have the correct mix of keywords and key phrases in your document(s).

If a prospective employer asks applicants to have experience in a particular type of software, then they want to see that information in your CV or Resume as well as your Job Application (Covering Letters, Forms and Statements Addressing the Selection Criteria). They want you to state that you are familiar with it, how much experience you have with it, where you used it and how long ago. 

Employers don’t like to guess. 

Did you know that some employers use software to check documents for keyword density for a designed set of parameters? Well believe it or not they do and applications without the correct density will be rejected.

Can you afford to be rejected because of a lack of basic information such as this?

Why do organizations use software to do the initial weeding of applicants? In a tight labor market, where there are hundreds of applicants for each job it can be a very time consuming and labor intensive job to go through each application individually, so they get the computer to do the initial work for them. If you have ever wondered why you are specifically asked to submit your application online – well now you know. 

How do you know what the designated parameters are? 

Read the advertisement, the job application package and any other information you are given or sent very carefully. Go through the information with a notebook and pen and / or a high lighter pen. Write down or highlight the re-occurring words or phrases. You should pay particular attention to “Essential” and “Desirable” Selection Criteria. Applicants are usually selected to attend an interview if they are deemed to have met ALL of the “Essential” Selection Criteria and most (if not all) of the “Desirable” criteria as well.

Employers also don’t like to train if they can hire something that already has the right mix of skills and abilities they need.

Does your application prove that or not? 

What should not be in your CV?

Discrimination is unfortunately still rife - so never state your age or date of birth, religion, sexual preferences or the number of kids you have.

When I was studying for my degree I listened with amazement as my lecturer told us that she had been asked how many children she had - of course the assumption is - as a woman, you are going to be taking time off work to give birth and when kids fall sick you are usually the one to take time off (well it was in "my day"). My lecturer said - I have a dozen children and plan to have more.... Of course in today's political society prospective employers should never ask you those kinds of questions, or if they do - they should ask everyone who they interview .... including men and people who it can be deemed may be rather too old to be thinking about babies....but - do you answer? Up to you - I'd be tempted to answer as my lecturer did.

Do the dumb check:

Spell check and proof read (not the same thing) Homonyms - "correct" word, wrong context - boot (could mean a pair of boots or the boot (trunk) of a car... Then you have the usual grammatical errors - It's, its ... They, their, they're - all mean very different things, and if used incorrectly can prove you 
a) do not have good eye for detail 
b) do not have good written communication skills 
c) makes you appear lazy with regards to your writing.  

A good tip is to read everything out loud before finalising your application - as this one technique can highlight errors like nothing else can. And really that goes for any piece of written correspondence and not just your CV.

Finalising your job application:

When it comes to writing out your job application, especially covering letters and statements addressing the selection criteria there are some important points to remember:  

  • Be positive about your previous roles - it may be hard to do if you have been laid off / terminated / don't like your supervisor and had to leave, but it's important that you are...positive that is.
  • When giving examples always focus on the good, not the bad - although you could be forgiven for thinking the prospective employer wants the down and dirty when they ask you what was your biggest challenge to date. 
  • Tip 1: Make sure it is a single BIG problem, not several minor annoyances that you faced. 
  • Tip 2: What the prospective employer is looking for is how you handled the situation - crying in the corner is not an acceptable resolution. What was the problem, how did you handle it, what were the positives. Believe me - there is always a positive. Your job as a perfect candidate would be to find it.
  • Don't just focus on the job role, but the achievements you made within that role.
  • Spell check and grammar - this should not need to be said - however, the amount of times we have received applications from people who did neither, or used SMS speak is frightening. Remember too the homonym problem ... right sounding word, completely wrong context - Imagine going for a bored role ... for instance, where there will be lots of bored meetings. Now the meetings may well be boring, but you are hardly going to get to sit in on them if you get that word wrong.
  • Get someone else to edit / proof read. If you don't think you are capable of doing it yourself - and let’s face it, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to selling ourselves, so entrust this job to someone you trust. But then get a second opinion; we want to ensure we give ourselves the best chance of getting through the written application stage and into the interview.
  • Make sure you submit the application in good time. 
Remember to follow the instructions, make sure you send / give them exactly what they want and ensure the application gets to the right person in time. Yours may be the best application, but if it arrives the day after closing date you have just wasted your time.