Prepare a Working Resume

When you start writing your resume, it is important to realise that it is a selling tool. Your goal is to “sell” yourself to an employer so that you can secure an interview. The reality is that the employer is buying and has a choice, you or someone else! 

It is also true that the average time spent on the first reading of any resume is less than one minute. Resumes are often the first point of contact and so a first impression is created when your resume is read.

Here are some basic golden rules for you to follow: 

  • Keep the appearance clean, professional and easy to read. Lots of white space.
  • Be consistent in typeface and format.
  • Be honest, they will always find out the truth.
  • KISS - Keep It Straight & Simple

How you compose your resume conveys to an employer your feelings, attitudes and self-perception. An employer looks for: 

  • A positive attitude and potential.
  • Abilities relating to the area of employment.
  • Evidence of commitment.
  • Leadership Qualities.
  • Ability to show initiative through thinking processes and problem solving capabilities.
  • Willingness to learn

Keep these in mind if you are preparing your own resume. Among other things, regardless of the stage of your career, you need a resume. A current resume is necessary to respond to sudden opportunities and to unexpected changes.

A resume should typically be reviewed regularly. This is a document that needs to grow and stay with you for the rest of your working life. However your resume should also be flexible and change to the meet the requirements of the prospective employer.

If sending your resume by email: 

  • Check the spelling (in Australian)
  • Is your email address suitable for a job application?
  • Check how it appears to the recipient by sending it to yourself first.

Standard resume format is:

Personal Details
Need to be on the first page of the resume. Include your postal address and contact numbers. Make sure your email address is suitable for job applications, i.e. an address that portrays you as a professional so avoid using 'nick names'. Create a specific email account just for this purpose if necessary.

Education
Some educational qualifications may seem irrelevant to the job for which you are applying, but it is important to list your previous studies. The level of detail given depends on the balance between how much study you have done and how much professional experience you have.

Relevant Industry Training
When applying for a specific job, it is important that you advertise that fact that you have relevant industry training. The training is accredited and recognised and therefore of great interest to the employer. Remember, it could come down to Qualified vs.Unqualified.

Computer Skills
In today's technology age, it is important that you can demonstrate an ability to use computers. If you have experience with industry specific packages include them in your resume. General computer skills also need to be identified. You may wish to evaluate the level of your skills, i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced, and list this next to the relevant programs. Do not include courses you did years ago that are rusty!

Professional Experience / Skills
This area of your resume needs to be organised, structured, and easy to read. A good structure would list;

  • Commencement and Finish dates (month – year)
  • Name of the company
  • Position held
  • A Description of your duties and responsibilities. The description should portray action. List your achievements for the job, giving yourself some value by using verbs like Assisting, Processing, Co-ordinating or Organising.

Very importantly - Do not be vague about dates or leave gaps, they will be found out.

Achievements
Achievements are one of the most important parts of your resume. They indicate growth and professional development and show that you can be a valuable employee. Remember, it is important to quantify the importance of the achievement for the duties performed.

Hobbies and Interests are worthwhile listing as they can indicate what kind of activities you enjoy, a solitary hobby or a team sport. This will enable an employer to decide if you fit their employment slot, a good team player or someone who enjoys autonomy and works best on their own.

References
Contact details for references have become more important than letters. Make sure that you check with your referees before including them on your resume. As a general rule, new employers will not make a reference check until they have selected their preferred candidate or at least have the selection down to one or two.

In summary, your resume is your introduction to a potential employer. It is an image of you as a professional in the workforce. Design it as you would like to be perceived.

Prepare a cover letter

A key step in making a good first impression is the cover letter that accompanies your application as this is where you start to market yourself to prospective employers. This letter compliments your resume and is where you make the first claims about your eligibility for employment within the organisation. 

 

The role of the cover letter is to persuade the potential employer to take time to read your resume. In effect, this is the first point of contact between you and your potential employer. 

Preparing for an Interview 

The interview process is the most important aspect in gaining a new position, but is often given little preparation.

 

Step #1: Pre - Interview Strategy

Find out as much as you can about the company and the position prior to the interview. Be prepared to answer questions like:

  • What do you know about our company?
  • What can you offer our company?
  • What are your career goals or expectations? (Where do you see yourself in five years?)
  • List something that you have done in the workplace that shows initiative?
  • What type of books do you read? What was the last one?
  • What kind of job are you looking for?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are you really good at?
  • Has a previous employer praised you? Why?
  • What would your peers / past employers say about you?
  • You may also be asked questions about difficult situations, customer service, your work / study environment.

Step #2: Factors to Consider

During the interview, the “interviewer” will be seeking out your strong and weak points, evaluating your qualifications, skills and intellectual qualities. It is imperative that you highlight positive aspects and present yourself in the best possible way. It is important to:

  • Know the interviewer’s full name, correct pronunciation and their title.
  • Know as much about the company and position as possible before the interview so you can ask intelligent questions - try to think of at least 2 as you are viewing the website.
  • Be professionally presented - Always wear business attire to the interview and pay particular attention to your grooming. Remember to clean your shoes.
  • Never criticize past employers.

 

Step #3: The Interview

Hints to ensure a successful interview:

  • Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early. Late arrival at an interview is never excusable and being too early displays poor time management.
  • Greet the interviewer by name and shake hands firmly.
  • Sit upright in your chair, look alert and interested - be a good listener as well as a good talker.
  • Smile - be friendly, positive and enthusiastic. Remember, regardless of your suitability for the position, the employer will not hire you if they don’t like you.
  • Always look a prospective employer in the eye (avoiding eye contact arouses suspicion).
  • Never answer questions with a simple ”yes” or “no." Elaborate wherever possible, but be careful not to over answer.
  • Make sure you get your point across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner.

Step 4: Closing the Interview

If you get the impression that the interview is not going well, don’t let your discouragement show - sometimes an interviewer may discourage you to test your reaction.

If you feel that the interview has gone well and that they like you don’t be afraid to ask, "what is the next step"? At the very least indicate that you are very interested.

Always genuinely thank the interviewer for their time and consideration of you. It is most important that you walk away from the interview knowing that you have given it your best shot. You can do no more.