Tuesday, January 4

Job Searches: Do and Do Not

I used to work for a personnel agency. A lot of resumes have crossed my desk over the years - and I've seen a lot of reasons why what seems like a perfectly good résumé to the candidate ends up being filed under G.

Recently, a position for a part-time bookkeeper opened up where I'm now employed. I'm responsible for looking over the resumes, making the short list, and interviewing the candidates. Some of these résumés will never even be opened just by their cover letters or the content of their email.

Here are some examples:

To whom it may concer
Please find attached copy of my resume, please do not exictate concat me
(Uhm.. wait.. whut?)

I am a student and looking for part time job that too in cash. (Again, Uhm.. wait.. whut??)

What is name of your company? (No information or résumé attached.)

Hi.i saw your posting in craiglist and i`m interested.I`m sending over my resume.
I have finished ACCPAC-G/L,Acc.Payable and Acc.Receivable,next week i start the Payroll,Order Entry 1 and 2.i have backehome bookkeeping experiences.
(Learn some punctuation. Try to remember that spell check is your FRIEND.)

Here are a few tips for those of you who are looking for new employment and want to update that résumé:

1. Create an email address specifically for your job search. Do NOT include phrases like "cyberwhore", "drinktillipuke", "myhobbyis69whatsyours", or "ifuckmywaytothetop". PS - If you try to use any of these on Gmail, you'll find that I've already taken them. ;P No.. I'm kidding. Feel free to use them - but NOT for job searches, k? :)

2. Spell check. Grammar check. Then have a friend (not an illiterate friend) look it over. Preferably someone who speaks English fluently. Unless you're going for a job that requires another language. Same rules apply, but it probably won't matter if they're fluent in English.

3. Bullets. I don't know how many times I've just seen paragraphs and run-on sentences in résumés instead of bulleted points. Think about this: The average employer will spend 2.5 to 20 seconds looking at a résumé. They want information that's easy to read, and won't take forever to scan over.

4. References. NEVER put them into your résumé. Always attach them as a separate document, and even then, don't submit them until a potential employer actually asks for them. Even the phrase "References: Available upon request." at the end of your résumé is optional - because if you're looking for a job, providing references a given. You can use this line to signal that this is the end of your résumé, but if space is a problem, you can eliminate this line altogether.

5. Make your résumé accomplishments-driven, instead of duties-driven. Listing your accomplishments gives your résumé a higher impact. Résumés should consist primarily of high-impact accomplishments statements that sell the job-seeker's qualifications as the best candidate. Never use expressions such as "Duties included," "Responsibilities included," or "Responsible for." That's job-description language, not accomplishments-oriented resume language that sells. After all, if you were an employer and wanted to run a successful organization, would you be looking for candidates who can perform only their basic job functions, or would you want employees with a proven track record of accomplishments? Employers tend to search for keywords in résumés. They don't look for words like "responsibilities" or "duties".

6. Don't bury your important skills at the bottom of your résumé. Most jobs today require computer skills, yet many potential candidates list their skills at the bottom of their résumés. If computer skills are a requirement of the position you're seeking, post them in your summary or profile. If your job of choice is in the technology field, list them in a separate section titled "Systems Proficiencies" or something. Make sure it's in the first page of your résumé. Similarly, if your field is language or business, list your skills in your profile or summary, not tacked to the end of your résumé where it won't be seen.

7. Seriousness. Seriously. A lot of people like to joke around on their résumé. I've seen "God" (no contact information) listed as a reference. One person put a picture of her cat at the top of her résumé. Don't do this. While YOU might think this is hilariously funny or that everyone loves a cute kitty, honestly - they don't. I'm actually annoyed by cutesy bullshit when it comes from candidates. I'm sure other employers are too. If you can't take applying for a job seriously, how will you take the actual JOB seriously?

8. Cover letters. Don't repeat what's in your résumé. Introduce it. No one wants to read the same thing twice. Use your cover letter to introduce your skills. Think of it as the jacket cover of a good book. The description makes the reader want to read more - and that's exactly what your cover letter should do.

So in summary - check your work, don't be an asswank, and actually put some time into your résumé. And good luck! :)

In other news: "Funk Soul Brother" by Fatboy Slim is the most annoying song EVER.


Karen said...

Great points! Under #5, can you give some examples for showing your accomplishments? I always tend to go the "duties included" route. I am working on my resume now, which is always so hard for me! I do much better doing other's.

trish said...

Just state how you've gone above and beyond in your jobs, what makes you special, how you've taken initiative and made your jobs your own. You want to make sure you stand out.

If you have...

* Created, reorganized or established any procedure or system, such as new forms, guidelines, policy statements, manuals, flow charts, etc. that helped to save time, increase productivity or reduce labor time or costs.

* Were complimented for special competence or performance, ie: handling difficult situations or solving problems that other staff either didn't know how to solve or did not want to face.

* Were put in charge of special projects: coordinating conferences or trade shows; analyzing and improving any type of system or program, etc.

* Received promotions or awards for goals achieved.

* Outside work achievements, like raising money for charity, being elected to a committee.

* Won a league, a race, captaining a sport team.

That help? :) Also - make sure you put your resume in order of title, NOT date. An employer is not going to spend much time looking at your resume, and if you're applying for an administrative position but have spent the last 3 years in retail, you don't want him/her to have to wade through 2 pages of resume to find that you have Admin experience. You want them to see it up front - so put your rez in order of the title/type of position you're applying for that shows you have experience in that field.