Time to stand out against your competition…
When you’re on the search for a new job, it’s important to pull out all the stops. The competition for jobs is fierce; in order to stand out amongst the crowd you have to market yourself in the best way possible. For some of us, that doesn’t come as easily as others but creating an “Elevator Speech” concisely stating who you are and your most valuable assets can get you on the right track.
For those of you who haven’t heard of an Elevator Speech, it’s a speech designed to sell an organization or individual’s brand to someone in the amount of time it takes to ride in an elevator with a stranger from the top of the building to the bottom floor. It should be engaging, persuasive and brief so that you could theoretically tell it to anyone you meet for career networking, job fairs, during job interviews if asked to talk about yourself, or in everyday situations where you might meet someone and describe what you do in your professional life.
An Elevator Speech should be:
Create a sample Elevator Speech and test it out on friends and family to get some feedback. Make sure your speech really is a self-promotion and convinces individuals and employers of your invaluable competences.
Work History – Don’t Trivialize Your Past Experiences!
After writing numerous resumes for students and recent graduates, I found that the vast majority of them tend to omit part-time or temporary jobs from their resumes. A lot of students have experience working in either the retail or hospitality sector, and because these jobs are not “real jobs” or full-time positions, a lot of students do not feel the need to include them. “Why would I write that I worked there on my resume?” a student recently asked me, referring to a retail store.
The answer is – a lot of part-time and temporary jobs that students tend to hold actually provide valuable skills and experience that employers are looking for on resumes. Employers are aware that you probably have little to no work experience, so any experience is usually viewed as a positive.
The important thing is to demonstrate this in an effective way on your resume. Don’t just write “folded clothes” or “processed transactions” when referring to a retail position. Instead, include that you built and maintained relationships with customers or that you regularly met or exceeded your sales targets. There are tons of other skills you could have acquired, but it all depends on the way you present yourself. Sell yourself and make your position stand out amongst similar positions from other candidates.
Just remember – don’t trivialize your work experience. There are skills to be learned from every job, and it’s important to show on your resume that you’ve acquired skills that are relevant to jobs you’re applying for, especially when you have little to no work experience. In case you think "what if I pay someone to write my resume?", consider applying to professional writing services.
Reasons to have a “professional” email address
First impressions are important when it comes to job seeking, and an email address can make quite a first impression. Often times, the email address is the first thing a hiring manager sees – before even seeing your name! Before you send out your next resume, consider what your email address alone might say about you. Do you “appear” professional?
As most job applications are sent via email these days, your email address alone can play a huge role into whether or not your resume is opened. I have heard numerous stories from hiring managers about applications getting tossed simply because of someone’s email address. Often times, email addresses at face value appear to be spam and are never even opened. Email addresses like “sexykitten0007” or “bigmuscles”, for example, might be automatically filtered into a spam folder by an email server because of word content.
The good news is that hiring managers are quite straightforward in what they believe makes up an “unprofessional” or unappealing email address. While it may sound harsh that most hiring managers critique email addresses, it does happen because they do create a first impression.
Below are 7 deadly email sins to make sure to stay away from so you don’t end up in the “unprofessional” pile.
Wrong Name: John_smith@….com (when your real name is David Jones)
Don’t confuse the reader from the start! Is your name John Smith or David Jones? There is no reason to have the hiring manager ask this type of question at the start of your resume.
Fantasy Name: Invisibleman@….com
Are you applying for a job or are you auditioning for a video game?
Creepy Name: collegestrangler@….com
Given the fact that over 80% of companies now run background checks on potential employees, there is no reason to give an employer the impression that you may have a criminal record.
This might have been ok when you were in high school, but not in the workplace.
The numbers: 998877665544@….com
Confusing! You are just asking for someone to send an email to the wrong place.
The Crude Name: hairychest@….com
Not a good first impression. Also, many of these email addresses contain words that will usually get filtered into the spam folder
Confess love email address: bonjovilover@….com
Again, you are applying for a job, not a role as a groupie.
So…what should you do? Stick to the basics. The best email addresses will contain your full or partial name, followed by either characters or numbers. Think about how most workplace email addresses are set up – most of them contain a combination of an employee’s first and last name. Try to mimic this – a professional email address represents a professional job candidate. Don’t give your reader the wrong impression!
How Long Will A Hiring Manager Or Recruiter Spend Reading My CV?
Recruiters and hiring managers have their own rules on how much time they will spend reading through a candidate’s professional CV. For a specialized role or more senior role, a HR Manager will receive much fewer CV applications and are more likely to read through entire CVs. How long will they spend on a role, though, that receives over hundreds of CV applications? Is it realistic to think that they are going to read through every single CV?
Time is always scarce and reports suggest that a hiring manager will generally spend no more than 20-30 seconds analyzing a candidate’s CV. If they cannot find the information they are looking for immediately, or your CV writing is not presented, structured and formatted correctly chances are that your CV will be deleted. This is the cut throat world of job seeking. Make a HR Manager guess and your CV is sure to end up in the recycle bin.
Times have changed and with competition for jobs so intense the responsibility of writing the perfect CV is more important than ever.
Why isn’t the hiring manager reading through my entire CV?
In an ideal world, a team of HR representatives would sit down and together go through every CV that they receive for a particular role. The HR team would analyze every person and read through every page of each CV with a fine-tooth comb. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Managers are under pressure to fine the right candidates in the shortest amounts of time. In many cases, a hiring manager or recruitment agent may be sourcing multiple jobs and therefore may be receiving hundreds, if not thousands, of CVs. A former colleague of mine was once recruiting for 15 different roles and received more than 3000 CV applications!
How can I make my CV stand out from the crowd?
With such limited time for your CV to stand out to the potential reader, you need to focus on highlighting your achievements and the value-added skills that you can bring to your next job. Often times, people remain fixated on listing all the daily duties they perform in a particular job. From a hiring manager’s point of view, being able to perform the job is expected – this does not make you stand out from the competition. The hiring manager wants to know that if they hire you for the job, you will not only successfully fill your duties, but you will also bring a whole range of skills to the business.
Five tips to making your CV shine:
Use strategic keywords throughout your CV (if the business is using software programs to read through the CVs, make sure that your CV will be noticed)
If you’re going to take the extra time to write a cover letter that you include along with your resume, you might as well write it properly! We talked to a few recruiters and found out that they frequently find mistakes so annoying that cause them to immediately discard some applications all together. Here’s a sample of some of the mistakes they mentioned:
Letter addressed to the wrong person or company:
It doesn’t annoy hiring managers that you’re probably applying for other jobs, but it does annoy them when you don’t take the time to check that your cover letter is addressed properly. Sending it to the wrong person or company will get your application deleted immediately.
Spelling and/or grammar mistakes:
You’re probably tired of being told to check and re-check your work, but it is extremely important! When spelling or grammar errors show up on your cover letter, the person reading it is going to think that you either don’t know how to write properly or that you didn’t bother to check it over. Either way, it’s bad news for you.
It’s too long:
Cover letters should be short and to the point. They should provide some basic information about how you are specifically qualified for the job in question. That’s pretty much it. Anything longer than a few paragraphs starts to look more like an essay, and it’s an immediate turn-off.
No contact details:
It happens quite frequently – people forget to include their name, let alone a way to contact them. While your details may be on your resume, no one wants to take extra time to fish for information that should have been provided for them right away.
No cover letter:
This is the worst mistake of all. You’re competing against dozens of other applicants who have instantly shown that they took more time to apply than you.
At the end of the day, you just want to give yourself the best chance possible to be called for an interview. Think about what a potential employer wants to know most about you, and try to convert this into a cover letter.
It’s pretty easy to recognize a terrible cover letter within the first 2 seconds of reading one. People tend to forget that this document is a sales tool – you use it to sell yourself to a prospective employer. That being said, it’s very easy to ruin your potential sale with just a few simple words.
The most important thing you need to do when writing your cover letter is remember that the person reading it cares about what you have to offer them, not about who you are in general. When you start off with “My name is…” a hiring manager is immediately going to think that he or she is about to read a life story, and they won’t be particularly interested. While it may be anything but a mini-autobiography, it doesn’t matter when you’ve already turned off the reader with those 3 words.
Starting off with “My name is…” is pretty irrelevant when you think about it. Your name is already at the top of the page, or it’s listed as the return name in your email message; you don’t need to remind them a third time. Instead, you need to focus on why you are writing this letter, and stick to just that.
It’s important to keep cover letters short and very straight-forward. Hiring managers are very busy and they don’t have time to read more than a few short paragraphs. Your writing needs to be engaging and interesting; you want the reader to feel compelled to read the entire thing – you don’t want them to get turned off immediately. Hiring managers tend to skim through cover letters quickly, so it’s important to highlight the most important details: why you are contacting them and why you are qualified. They aren’t interested in much more, so make sure you keep it simple.
Your goals (in addition to eventually getting hired) are to have your resume read and to be called in for an interview, so try to use all the tools you can to make that possible. Remember these tips when writing your cover letter, and I guarantee you’ll find more success in getting called for an interview.
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