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4 Steps to Writing a Kick-Arse Resume

Ah, the age old question: What makes a great resume great?

There is a ton of conflicting information available online, documenting strategies that will help you to get your resume noticed and people to call you. This can be confusing, especially as a new kid on the block in the career start market.

As an entry level candidate, your limited experience in the workforce can make filling one page seem like writing a 10,000 word thesis with no material. If you feel completely overwhelmed by the prospect, you are not alone. The good news is writing an effective resume that will get your phone ringing is a lot easier than you think.

When recruiters and employers are reading your resume, the truth is this: all they want to know is WIIFM: what’s in it for me?

This might sound a bit cold and callous, but it’s actually quite a necessary strategy. Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes: you’ve written a specific advertisement for a specific job, and you’re going through the applications you’ve received. Your number one priority is to find the right person for the job, usually as quickly as possible.

With some roles attracting anywhere up to 400 applicants, who would you call? The applications you can tell have been specifically written for the job you advertised, or the ones you can tell have been sent to every recruiter under the sun?

When reading your application, recruiters and employers look for relevance: relevant skills, relevant experience, relevant career goals and, for some roles, relevant education to address the criteria they’ve advertised.

If nothing else, your cover letter and resume must scream two things: you’ve read the advertisement and understand the requirements they have asked for, and how understanding those requirements makes you even surer you’re the right person for the job.

So how do you achieve this? By following these 4 simple steps.

1.   Write a Cover Letter – for EVERY job you apply for

Don’t use your cover letter in the same way you use your resume – it has a completely different purpose. Your cover letter should tell people why you think you’re a great fit for the role, how this job fits in with your natural talents (strengths) and career goals, and how you will add value if selected – the type of things the structure of a resume does not allow for.

Tip: Personalise your cover letter for each role you apply for. If you find this too time consuming, only apply for the jobs you really want and put your time and effort into those applications.

2.   Keep the Information you divulge on a “Need to Know” Basis

A mistake that entry level candidates often make is using their resume like their Facebook page: a tribute to themselves! You headlined your local theatre production of “Annie” 3 years running? You like long walks on the beach? You were MVP in your Soccer League? As a child, you wanted to be an astronaut / ballerina / (Insert Stereotypical Childhood Dream Here)?

At this stage, let’s classify all of the above as a “nice to know”, not a “need to know”, and perhaps good material for your first round of post-work drinks!

3.   Format Effectively – Put First Things First

Operate under the assumption that people will read half a page of your resume before deciding whether the rest is worth reading. To encourage them to keep reading, you need to meet their needs first by putting the most relevant information at the top, as detailed below.

  • Personal Information

Name, Location, Contact Information. Only the basics.

  • Career Objective

In case your cover letter doesn’t get read, include a career objective to communicate who you are( “A talented, career driven and focused individual”), what you’re interested in, (“With a passion for sales”) and what you are looking for, (“Seeking career growth and development in a business environment”).

Objectives should be no longer than a few sentences, and should be relevant to the role you’ve applied for.

  • Education

This should not be a detailed summary of the units you completed (unless relevant), just what you completed, the institution, and the year of completion.

If you feel it is relevant to go into detail about your academic achievements, put it under an “Achievements” section at the tail end of your resume.

  • Career History

Start with your most recent work experience and work backwards. Make sure you put the month and year you start and finish the jobs you list. Many candidates do not include months to try and make it look like they were in the job longer.

When I see “2011 – 2012”, I read “December 2011 – January 2012”, even if you worked there for the full year. Explain any gaps in the timeline i.e. “Travelled to Spain”. Your career history should be clear and make chronological sense.

  • Relevant Experience

This is the place for any other experience you’ve had which strengthens your application. Here you should address your “Individual Capital” – the unique skills, experiences, achievements and education you have that increase your value to the market. You may have been involved in relevant University projects, charities, entrepreneurial endeavours, or ran your own chicken farm. Think outside the box; skills and knowledge are more transferable than you realise, and little things could set you apart from other candidates.

4.   Know what your Natural Talents are

Certain companies will consider candidates with less experience if they show a natural talent for the job.

We talk a lot about “natural talent” around the Rookie Recruits offices, and we’d love to discuss yours with you.

Natural talent is based on the DISC assessment; it is the idea that everyone has unique strengths in their personality which predict certain people will be better suited to certain jobs. Natural talent can give you a real competitive edge over others in an application process – that, along with attitude, are two of the only things that are almost impossible to teach.

If you’re reading an ad thinking “I could NAIL this!” but are lacking the specified skills and experience, don’t give up – try and write your resume using the above recommendations, so people call you and you can plead your case.

We will leave you by saying that when you’re applying for a new role, personalise the above information for each application.

One word of warning too – if you’re struggling to address any of the above points, you should seriously consider whether you’re applying for the right roles. Keep looking – you’ll find your fit.

Want to find out more about your natural talents?

Email the Talent Team at talent@rookierecruits.com and request your free JobProfile. 

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