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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. Making your LinkedIn Profile Attractive to Employers

    February 10, 2015 by Jenna

    These days having a LinkedIn profile in the corporate world is almost a necessity. While Facebook and Twitter share your personal thoughts and opinions, LinkedIn will make you shine as a professional if you utilise it correctly.

    It’s an opportunity to share you’re employment history, qualifications/achievements. Effectively, it’s your digital resume. Your LinkedIn profile is available to a huge variety of employers. People are often head-hunted even when they aren’t looking for employment.

    However, if you are not using your profile to its potential, you could be missing out on opportunities without even realising it.
    An article by Emmanuel Banks posted on Lifehack shares simple steps to making your LinkedIn profile more attractive to employers:

    Treat It Like an Interview
    First impressions are quite important during an interview and so is your presentation. The same applies when formatting your online layout and choosing an appropriate profile picture.

    You want to create a positive and professional image so choose a profile picture that reflects you in a professional way. If it looks like you are on an all-night party bender, or modelling a bikini while on your latest holiday, you may be deterring employers straight away. This also applies to a poorly presented or poorly written ‘Summary’ or ‘Employment History’. If you are not taking the time to proofread or update your personal details, qualifications or skill, you could be automatically viewed as sloppy. If you are making LinkedIn connections with business professionals for the first time and they have potential to help you get your foot in the door, make sure you are advertising yourself to your best ability.

    Stay Connected
    The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect and network.

    Requesting a contact to connect allows you to provide a tailored introduction to the person and explain why you feel it is important to connect with them. You can then follow up with contacts on a to keep them up to date on your career. There are also groups for members within your industry where you can be kept up-to-date regarding networking events, news topics and discussions.

    It also shows your passion and genuine interest in the industry to keep connecting with others and participating in as many groups and interactions as you can. It maintains relationships with past and present contacts.

    Have Your Experience Vouched
    Your background and experience can appear even more attractive to an employer when they see that other professionals have verified your experience or expertise.

    Employers may be looking for a select set of skills for a potential role and it can prove advantageous when others verify your experience or even provide recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask past employers’ if they would mind verifying details or providing a recommendation.

    Keep Profile Up to Date
    It is time consuming for an employer to chase up information that isn’t included on your online profile. Important information can include; a good description of your current position, start and finish dates of your previous appointments, reference details or educational achievements.

    Even if you are not looking for a new role, it is important to keep your information up to date just in case you situation changes. This will also save you time if you do decide to look for work elsewhere in the future.

    What do you highlight on your LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out?


  3. 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 …


  4. 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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