Typical resume words that once grabbed attention such as dependable, conscientious and trustworthy have been largely overused and for the most part, have lost their shine.
Employers no longer look specifically for these, but want a resume that gives them a more realistic picture of who you are and what they can expect from you as an employee.
And if you’re thinking of sending out 500 (same) copies of your resume, think again. Where a generic resume might have landed that job years ago, the market is now flooded with applications and in order for yours to stand out from the crowd, it must be relevant and customized to the job and the company. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when applying for a job:
1) Your Best Social Face Forward:
With employers scanning social media sites of prospective employees to better know them, before you even apply for a job, clean up your social media pages – all of them. Spare none! Remove profanity, questionable photos and especially any rants about previous or current employers. And when it comes to tweeting much about nothing, this can also set a negative tone.
Photos that portray you to be a party animal might influence friends, but not a prospective employer. Put your best face forward before applying for a job and keep it that way. Many jobs have been lost, simply because of what employees have posted on their social media sites.
2) Attention to Detail is Crucial:
In a world where there are mass applications, your resume should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. Use the exact job title when applying and make note of the contact person’s name and title, and address your resume to their attention.
Also ensure the spelling of the company is absolutely correct and look for any other crucial instructions in the job posting. There’s usually a few and they are there for a reason. This shows the employer that you’re able to follow instructions, to the letter.
3) Cover That Resume:
At one time cover letters were not as important, especially during times when jobs were plentiful and seekers few. Today, a cover letter forms the first screening point. It should not only grab the employer’s attention, but generate sufficient interest to explore your attached resume.
A cover letter should never be too long so as to lose their attention, but it should relate to the job, outline your most important skills and why you’re the best person for the job. If you lack the skills to write a cover letter, it’s worth securing help from someone you trust who can. Be careful not to fall for online resume/cover letter service scams; opt instead for a trusted acquaintance, teacher or professor.
Make sure your contact information in included and that there are no spelling/grammatical errors in your cover. And remember – a cover letter is not the place for texting phrases, neither is your resume. If you want them to go to your resume, present yourself in a polished manner at the point of entry – your cover.
4) Be Familiar With the Company:
It’s almost impossible to customize a cover letter without doing some research on the company. Typical interview questions and discussions often center around the company’s goals and general processes. Become knowledgeable about the company, what they do and especially their mission statement, which is often available on their web site.
It’s also very appropriate to ask for a copy of the job description before an interview, so you can be better prepared to answer questions the company might have about how you plan to do the work, or to ask about what’s expected of you. Better to fully understand the scope of the work, before you accept a job.
5) The Meat of the Resume:
Your attached resume should include your skill set, with the most prominent and relevant front and foremost. It should also include your work history with your most current employment first, and listing back in time. But keep your resume reasonable in length and relevant to the job you’re applying for.
When it comes to a mature job seeker, you might have had several part-time jobs decades ago, but most may not be relevant. Avoid word clutter and keep it to the point. A resume that reads more like a book, may never get read. Unless that is, the cover is so stellar they are completely drawn in.
Those fairly new to the job market might want to include those various small jobs they held during high school or college. That often signals to an employer that you’re very diversified and prefer to work, rather than while away your time. It also provides a clearer picture of the many skills and experience you’ve picked up, even at a young age.
Volunteer positions and hobby-related endeavors can also display creativity and a helpful, compassionate nature. Remember to include certificates earned, all diplomas or commendations received. Health related or worker’s safety training courses should definitely be included.
If you have an online portfolio or profile that can provide supporting and/or additional information on your skills or education, include it. Such links often help to keep your cover letter and resume more manageable from a reading perspective, yet provides more detail for those who want it.
6) Courtesy Call to Reference Contacts:
No one likes to get a call out of the blue from a company asking for references without having some kind of prior notice, even if they did offer years ago to be a reference. If you are including reference contacts to support your work history or personal profile, always confirm with these people before handing out your resume.