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  1. You have six seconds to make an impact with your résumé. Here’s how

    November 8, 2016 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    The world of work is changing fast, and the recruitment process is changing with it. A few years back, we reported that employers filter out 90 per cent of all résumés they receive in about 10 seconds. Now new research shows us that recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing an individual résumé. Here’s how to make your résumé grab a recruiter’s attention in this very short time.

    1. An organised layout is essential

    With so little time to make an impact, organising your information clearly is the number one priority. Most recruiters will scan the top third of the page when looking at a résumé, so make sure this area presents a snapshot of your best self. Outline what you can offer in specific terms – your ‘elevator pitch’ – rather than writing about your own career objectives.  Tell the recruiter what you are good at and what you love doing, and explain why you’re qualified to do it. Then summarise your core competencies, using active words such as ‘managed’, ‘initiated’ and ‘exceeded’. Your professional experience is best summarised in bullet points that draw the reader’s eye. One recruiter explained this as ‘bullet point equals bragging point’.

    1. Customise your résumé for each job application

    You may be qualified for a range of positions or be interested in different career options, but a one-size-fits-all approach will generally fit nobody very well. Customise your résumé just as you would your cover letter (please say you do that, don’t you?) so that the information you send is targeted and specific, leaving out everything that is irrelevant to the job description and skills and attributes the employer is looking for. Make sure all information you include is objective fact, rather than your own opinion of yourself. Recruiters want to see what you have done to demonstrate the traits that are important to them. Your opinion that you are a ‘great leader’ doesn’t count – tell the recruiter that your team exceeded its targets and was recognised as the best performing team in the business.

    1. Pay attention to how you write and who you are writing for

    Recruiters read hundreds and hundreds of résumés, so put yourself in their position. The same tired clichés and well-worn phrases are not going to capture their attention, no matter how much they really do apply to you. You’re a ‘hard worker’? Sure you are, but don’t use those words; instead, show that you have met every deadline even when it meant sometimes staying back to do so. We’re all ‘team players’ these days, so find a fresh and original way to express how you pitched in to meet a collective goal even when it wasn’t strictly your job to do so.

    1. Check and re-check your final draft for errors

    Being a good communicator is an almost universal requirement in the workplace today. Don’t undermine your claim to meet this prerequisite by overlooking spelling errors, typos and grammatical mistakes in your résumé. Many recruiters for professional organisations will discard a résumé at the first spelling mistake. Also make sure all your dates and facts add up, and absolutely never, never make up qualifications or positions held (it happens, even the CEO of Yahoo lied about the details of his degree). After all, if you can’t get this important document right, what are the chances your reports will be readable or your instructions clear to others? Have a professional proofreader, or at least somebody with considerable writing experience, read your final draft for errors.

    Using a professional résumé writing service can be helpful. Challenge People Services’ professional consultants with extensive recruitment experience can work with you to ensure your résumé showcases your skills, experience and background and is designed to deliver results.

    See more about our résumé writing service at Challenge People Services.


  2. How Recruitment Has Changed In The Last 10 Years

    August 26, 2014 by Jenna

    I started my career in recruitment in 2004, in the days when skills shortages and low unemployment dominated the airwaves. SEEK was without question the online job board of choice, although CareerOne was in a desperate re-branding phase to attract us all back to their stable. Newspaper advertising was also still a key attraction tool especially for Senior Executive and regional roles. There was no Facebook, there was no Twitter, and there certainly wasn’t LinkedIn.

    But there were people. The most important thing about recruitment, and the essential key to effective recruitment, is and always will be the people. The ability of a recruiter to identify a strategy to attract potential candidates to a job is the first step, the second step is the ability to quickly identify that candidate’s skills, abilities, and motivations to most effectively match them to the right job and right company, and of course the most important step; effectively manage the negotiations of this match-making process between candidate and company to ensure a long-lasting partnership for all.

    Some of the candidates Challenge Consulting placed in 2004 are still in those roles today. Some have moved up into higher level roles with the same or other organisations. Others have made a complete career change. I can still name most of those people I had the good fortune of meeting 10 years ago, I’m not so good at faces – but for me the names tell a story. A story of change of country, change of state, celebrating 10 year wedding anniversary with a surprise trip to Hawaii, babies, marriages, and fresh starts in a brand new role filled with possibilities. I was so lucky to work with these people when they often were stepping outside of their comfort zone and at their most vulnerable, making a job change.

    All those years ago the thing that surprised me most about recruitment, was not the process itself, it was the reputation of recruiters. To many the profession of the recruitment consultant was closest to a used-car salesman – slimy, arrogant, and only in it for the money (apologies to the used-car salesmen). But the truth is the best recruiters do not fit this stereotype. The best recruiters are not chucking CVs at an inbox hoping one will fit. The best recruiters are not scouring the online job boards and cold calling with offers of the best candidates without any idea what your requirements are. The best recruiters are not cold calling you endlessly full stop. Because the best recruiters are too busy meeting people and developing a talent pipeline for your company. They are networking at industry events so they best understand what is happening in your industry and sector. They are meeting with you, between job hires, to understand the current strategic priorities for your business now and into the years to come.

    An ironic shift in the industry happened in 2008; I was at the time travelling overseas enjoying the best that Europe had to offer, but when I returned it was clear that although Australia was not in recession, the Global Financial Crisis had just hit us hard. It was at this time that many of those bad recruiters went out of business. It would be mistaken to suggest that the GFC did not have an impact on Challenge Consulting, because even for the best recruiters business diminished, but like the other great recruitment organisations we looked at other ways to partner with our clients, who too were struggling with the uncertainty of what next.

    Fast-forward to now and what frustrates me the most is that the bad recruiters are starting to re-dominate the landscape. I know this because I now work in the area of career transition with individuals whose positions have been made redundant and they tell me the incredible horror stories.  Recruiters that advertise jobs that do not exist. Recruiters that do not return their calls after a SECOND INTERVIEW with the client company. Recruiters that chuck their CVs at jobs without their permission. Recruiters that do not return their calls full stop. How is it that in 2014 this is the standard of recruitment practice that we accept? How is it that these companies even exist?

    They exist because someone is paying them to exist. Every time a company says, “I will just throw this job out to a couple of recruiters and see what comes back”. They are rather saying: “it is OK to send CVs without a thorough attraction and screening process. We don’t want the best match for our requirements.” Every time a company says: “I will not pay that rate because this other recruiter will do it for less than that”, they are saying “we don’t want good recruiters; we want bad recruiters that will waste our time and ruin the reputation of our company in the marketplace”. Every time a company lists a job with more than one agency, they are saying “we support bad recruitment practices based on competition rather than collaboration and quality”.

    Of course recruiters can do better. We all can, we are all people. But we need to demand that they do better and not pay for those services that breed a profession that burns people out. We need to empower a profession to be the best that it can be by paying for quality partnerships with the best recruiters. Those great recruiters that will partner with you and help you build that talent pipeline that will lead to your future success, because at the end of the day, that’s what it should be about. Your most important asset = your people.


  3. Why networking is the #1 way to find a job …

    November 22, 2011 by Jenna

    The top two responses to our latest online poll – “Where do you go first when you’re looking for a job?” –  were Internet Job Boards and My Contact Network

    Whilst there is no doubt that internet job boards provide an easy, user-friendly way to apply for advertised roles, job seekers must always beware of becoming lazy in their application approach, ie sending the same old cover letter and CV again and again for roles that might actually require you to do a bit of “tailoring” first, or resort to a scattergun mentality, ie, “If I send my CV to enough job advertisers, then one will surely produce a result.” 

    I can assure you, as someone who has worked in the recruitment industry for eleven years, recruiters who know their stuff, whether they work for an agency or within a company, can spot a thoughtlessly-sent CV at twenty paces. For example, a candidate might have a newly-minted accounting qualification. They are seeking an entry-level accounting role. They do a key-word search using “accounting” and send their CV in response to the 25 job ads that appear, despite the fact that only two of the advertised roles are suitable for entry-level candidates. Not only is this a ridiculous waste of time for everyone concerned, it does the candidate absolutely no favours, instantly creating an impression of a total lack of attention to detail and no real interest in the actual role or company. 

    You must remain in charge of your job search. It is your responsibility and yours alone to secure your next role. 

    Here is a prime example of what I mean from an article on Forbes.com entitled Get a Job Using the Hidden Job Market

    “The technology executive had been out of work for more than a year, but he didn’t tell any of his friends he was unemployed. Instead, he made up a story about how he was consulting on some confidential projects, the details of which he would reveal when it was time to go public. Meantime, he applied for dozens of posted job openings he saw online, with zero success. He also spent time golfing at the country club, where his locker was next to a CEO in his field. Still, he guarded his secret carefully, staying mum with his golf buddies about his job hunt. Finally, his distraught wife set up some sessions with Donald Asher, an executive career coach and author of 11 books, including Cracking the Hidden Job Market: How to Find Opportunity in any Economy. Asher convinced his new client to open up about his job hunt, and start talking to everyone he knew about how he was on the market. Sure enough, one of his golfing friends gave him a tip that led to a job at a startup.”

    What do you know?

    I asked Challenge Consulting’s Managing Director, Elizabeth Varley, what she regarded as the best overall way to find work. 

    Without hesitation, her response was, “Your network.” 

    She continued: “You must be organised and methodical in your approach to seeking work. When you’re in your car travelling to a new destination, you use a road map, you don’t just start driving. Ask yourself what you actually want to do, what skills and experience you wish to utilise. Then, work out who you know who can give you entrée into industries or companies where these are attractive. It might be a friend, it might be a LinkedIn contact, it might be someone you meet at an industry function, it might be someone you get talking to waiting for a bus.” 

    They key things to remember are: you have to make it known that you are seeking work (no one can read your mind, after all), and you cannot expect a high success rate flailing wildly in the dark (see Elizabeth’s above comment re using a map!). 

    Comments from three of our poll respondents re using their networks:

    – “The people in my network know me best, so they’re the ones most likely to present a suitable opportunity. They’re also less likely to point me in the wrong direction.”

    – “My first port of call would be tapping in to my networks.”

    – “Recently, for the first time ever, I was approached for a job based on my LinkedIn Profile.”

    What do you think? What success have you had finding that next great role using your networks? Let us know in the comments below!

    _______________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  4. Cover Letters: what you should and should NOT include …

    September 7, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

    ______________________________

    To begin with, whilst you don’t want to read someone’s life story in a job application cover letter, my personal feeling (and one that many of my colleagues and respondents to last week’s poll concur with) is that something a little beyond “Here is my CV. Call me” creates a slightly more positive impression. 

    I’m just saying. 

    We had some, er, interesting responses to last week’s online poll, which asked “What is the #1 worst thing you can put in your job application cover letter?” 

    The “Other” option attracted my favourite, which was: “If hired, I will cook at your next family BBQ”. Whilst this may not be the most appropriate inclusion, it was more of an inducement than “a massive picture of myself, naked”. Shudder. 

    We had a tie for the #1 worst thing: just over 27% of respondents believed that using the wrong company name or wrong cover letter, and criticising either your prospective or previous employer, were equally as bad as each other. 

    Bad writing, poor grammar and jokes were also considered shabby form. 

    Now, I am sure you can imagine that, as a busy recruitment firm, Challenge Consulting receives many hundreds of job applications every week, most with cover letters included. 

    I promise you, they’ve seen it all when it comes to cover letters and CVs, the good, the bad and the ugly. I mean, really ugly. I questioned Team Challenge for their expert suggestions of what job applicants should and should not include. Repeatedly, their responses centred on the letters being tailored to the role being applied for, and personally addressed to the consultant managing the job … 

    – “I like cover letters to be tailored to the role being applied for and addressed to me. No ‘To whom it may concern’, thanks or, worse still, ‘Dear Sir’ – not only does this smack of impersonality, as we happen to have no males working at Challenge Consulting, it clearly demonstrates the applicant cannot even bother to find out who they’re writing to.” 

    – “A few paragraphs is ideal. Cover letters must be relevant and specifically tailored to the job you are applying for. Do not just create one cover letter that you use for every application, you need to tweak it to ensure it is customised to each role. You must outline your skills and experience, detailing what you could bring to the specific role. I also like to see the applicant’s reason for leaving their previous role/s if it is not already outlined on their resume.” 

    – “The worst thing a person can do is address the cover letter to the wrong employer/agency and have the wrong job title. Do not include personal details, such as your marital status, religion, children, etc, that are not relevant. Do not include negative information about your previous employer.” 

    – “I like to see someone who has tailored each cover letter to the position they are applying for, and addressing the selection criteria, especially for the more technical roles. It is also important that the candidate addresses the cover letter to the person who is listed on the job ad. If the candidate has put the wrong name, or a different role they are applying for, it looks really bad, and suggests a lack of attention to detail.” 

    – “I only generally read the covering letter once I have reviewed the candidate’s CV and have established their relevance, however, looking at the covering letter can be incredibly useful to:

    • Gauge written communication skills
    • Understand reasons for leaving their current opportunity in favour of the advertised opportunity (if not included in CV)
    • Provide clarity regarding the relevance of their experience if it is quite technical
    • Their relevance to advertised opportunity, especially if a change of industry is involved. The cover letter offers and opportunity to explain who their skills are transferable.”

    Perhaps the best response was the most succinct, from a person who appreciates the succinct in others: 

    “If you can’t construct an interesting and informative (but nice and brief) cover letter, don’t bother including one. It should be a summary of who you are, your most recent experience, and your reasons for applying. You should also include your contact details and availability for interview, but not much more.” 

    Have you seen or even been the recipient of a weird or wonderful cover letter? Let us know in the comments section below. 

    Next week, we address the controversial topic “Should smokers be allowed to go out for a cigarette break during office hours?” Have your say in this week’s online poll now …


  5. Yes or No: should you put your photo in your CV?

    March 15, 2011 by Jenna

    Well, to be frank, the jury is very much out on this. A quick survey of Team Challenge elicited the following comments:

    • “I love the ones where the candidate has cut out the other person in the photo so you just have random hands on shoulders.”
    • “My favourite was a resume that started with an opening page with just a photo and sparkling border around it.”
    • “I am irresistibly drawn to candidates who include photos of themselves either with animals, or at parties.”
    • “One candidate inexplicably included a photograph of himself standing in front of the Burj-al-Arab, at sunset, holding a cocktail.”

    On a more serious note, though, Melissa, our Temporary Recruitment Consultant, lived and worked in Paris during 2009 and 2010. Based on her job-seeking experiences there, she had the following to say: “Regarding including your photo with your CV, my general opinion is no, too, but it is certainly a cultural thing and we should not hold it against some of our European friends. For example, in France it is common to have your photo in your CV. Most of the jobs I applied for requested it, so I did it (cringe!).”

    And what does the Australian industry research say?

    Consider the following from Jim Bright and Joanne Earl’s bestselling Resumes That Get Shortlisted:

    “Do not include one. Our reasons are:

    • Not everyone looks like a supermodel, or photographs like one.
    • Sending a photographs is telling employers: ‘I want to be judged on my looks and not on job-relevant characteristics.’
    • We recently did a survey of a large recruitment firm’s archive of resumes and could not find a single photograph attached to a successful resume.
    • (In another study) we compared identical resumes that included a photograph of a person who was independently judged to be attractive or unattractive. The results were depressingly inevitable: attractive candidates were judged more suitable for the job and were more likely to be shortlisted compared to unattractive candidates.”

    What is Challenge Consulting’s recommendation? In short, it is not necessary to include a photograph. If you opt to, or are required to for reasons specified by a particular employer (eg a modeling agency), then make sure you present yourself professionally – no mates, no pets, no holiday snaps and no cocktails! It’s a job application, people!




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