Like almost everybody reading this, I’ve had the experience of searching for a job. It’s not always fun, particularly if you aren’t currently employed. Interviews are stressful, you might be worried about money, and your life is filled with uncertainty. Unfortunately, I was going about the whole thing the wrong way, and I suspect that you are too.
Since taking a job in recruitment, I’ve reacted to resumes which are similar to mine in various ways without even noticing it. Then I took a look at my own resume and realised how much I had done sub-optimally.
We all want to maximise our chances of getting our dream job, but to get the job, we have to get the interview. Let’s have a look at some places where I went wrong.
My resume doesn’t start off too badly, I start with my education because I haven’t been out of university that long, but really, after a few years professional work experience, it should drop towards the bottom. If your degree is the best thing you have going for you, then it needs to be at the top, but if you’ve had a relevant professional job before, then that’s more important than your education, unless your degree has only just been completed.
It’s when you get beyond my degree that I made my first big mistake. I get into my skills and abilities long before I touch on my previous jobs, and the first thing you learn about me is that I was the captain of my swimming club … in 2008! Worse, I don’t even have consistent capitalisation on that line. Great first impression there. I’ve obviously proofread this, but I’ve also probably submitted it 50+ times without noticing that typo.
I was applying for a mix of sales and recruitment jobs, yet nowhere in my skill set do you find the word “sales.” In fact, my rudimentary ability to code in C++ is more prominent than my ability to sell. Whoops. If I’m applying for a sales job, then shouldn’t that be the first skill listed? Almost certainly. In fact, if possible, I should be more specific than “sales.” I should be as specific as possible. I am skilled at business development, much more so than account management, both of which are part of sales, so my resume should have said “business development” in my skills section. Imagine applying for a job as a professional cyclist and putting “sports” on your resume, how do I know you aren’t a swimmer? This is what putting non-specific skills on your resume is like.
Additionally, my skills were poorly ordered, and I wasn’t customising my resume for each and every job. If I was applying for a graduate program in retail management, then putting demonstrated leadership experience towards the top of my resume would have been great, but if I was applying for a junior recruitment role, then leadership ability is gravy. My employer wasn’t hiring me directly for my leadership skills, and I’ll have plenty of time to demonstrate them before it becomes important.
Basically, what I’m saying there is that I needed to customise my resume for every job I applied for. I wasn’t. I should have made sure that my skills were in the right order, and that I covered everything relevant.
In the end, my mistakes almost definitely reduced the number of options I earned myself. I experienced a higher rate of rejection than I probably should have, and increased the amount of stress I was under. Whilst I believe that I got the best possible outcome, in the end, moving into a field that I had been flirting with the idea of moving into for months, at one of the best companies around, I certainly could have put myself under less pressure.