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In this section we have provided a few ideas regarding Resumes and Application letters that will assist you in getting an interview and also allow an employer to understand your educational and employment history thus far.
The Resume is a way of selling yourself to the employer prior to a face to face interview.
Although there are no right or wrong ways to create a Resume or design the document, there can be no arguments that some designs work more effectively than others.
Following are a few tips on how to create an effective resume:
What the Resume does:
- It presents your background briefly and succinctly.
- It refers to your major accomplishments and so identifies what you do best.
- It emphasises what you think is important about you.
- It uses a format of your making.
The resume, then, is a document that represents you in the most attractive light for the right next position that you have identified for yourself. You will see from these descriptions that the resume is a personal and specific document. It does not attempt to tell everything about you; only what is relevant to your job goals. If you change those goals then you must also change your resume.
Since the resume will be read by busy people who will probably have many other resumes to read, you must give careful attention to the layout. It must be both easy to read and look as if it will be easy to read. In this way, it resembles a printed advertisement and so we can borrow some principles from that field.
- Avoid long, indigestible sentences or paragraphs.
- Arrange aspects of each topic in short point form;
- Leave space around each item both vertically and horizontally.
- White space is attractive to the reader;
- Use good quality paper in an attractive business colour;
- Compose your own resume but have a professional type it, or print it, or prepare it on a word processor.
Over attention is often given to the number of pages. The resume must of course be concise, but it is more important that the content be relevant and meaningful of the position being considered.
Resumes are read by busy people who usually read them with a definite position in mind. It is important that they discover in the first few seconds of reading that this resume represents a suitable candidate worthy of consideration.
Your name, address and telephone numbers must be clearly displayed at the top of the page so that you can be reached easily.
The telephone must be one where the caller can expect an answer. Prospective employers are not usually very persistent if the telephone is not answered in usual business hours.
We recommend that you use a brief summary statement as an introduction to your resume, in the covering letter. This is based on your personal assessment, and should say who you are as supported by your employment background, while describing yourself in terms of your next right job.
The Chronological Resume
The Chronological resume lists your education and professional memberships in reverse order (e.g. most recent first). This is followed by various employment positions in reverse order.
The advantage of this format is that it presents your background in a clear, straightforward manner. It emphasizes your most recent experience and it enables the reader to review your background quickly.
This is the most common kind of format used in Australia.
The Functional Resume
The Functional resume plays down the employment record in favor of a summary of the kinds of functions in which you have been involved. It emphasizes your experience and accomplishments in each functional area and particularly the ones that are most important to the position you now seek.
The most obvious advantage is the shift of focus away from the most recent position if:
- The employment history is erratic;
- The person held the same position (title) for a long time while the position itself went through many changes and increased responsibilities;
- The new position that you seek represents a radical career change and departure from your past history or work experience;
- You wish to return to a previous occupation.
Put education and personal data at the beginning unless there is a special reason to put them at the end.
In describing your employment history you should include the description of each position, the name, size and type of company/organization, the principal duties and scope of your position and your major accomplishments that reflect the appropriate skills and experience for the position that you are targeting.
GOLDEN RULES FOR RESUME WRITING
- Direct your data in terms of benefits to the employer, not the benefits you want.
- Describe your abilities, potential and things you can do for the employer by using your past experience as proof to support the claims you make.
- Emphasise how well you perform your tasks rather than leave this to conjecture.
- Tell what you have accomplished rather than describe your responsibilities. They are not the same. Do this in terms of increased profits, money saved, production increased, etc.
- Explain long breaks in employment continuity in your covering letter.
- Avoid going into excessive detail about education and personal details.
- Avoid the use of such terms as “synopsis of resume”, “amplified resume”, “confidential resume”.
- Underline, capitalise centre or use bold print for headings to emphasise information.
- Do not cram your resume. It gives it a cluttered look and turns people off.
- Leave plenty of white space on each page.
- Keep at least a 2.5cm margin on either side of your paper.
- Paragraphs must be short. Double space between paragraphs.
- Do not date your resume. You don’t want this year’s date on next year’s mailing.
Sample Application/Cover Letter
When applying for a job, an application letter should be written for every application you submit. An application letter is an introductory letter that allows you to write a little less formally than your resume and should be tailor made to the job advertisement.
Application letters let you introduce yourself and allows you to showcase your attention to detail, your communication skills, your enthusiasm, and your interest in the company to which you are sending the letter. While your resume outlines experience and achievements formally, application letters allow you to reflect your personality and should entice the reader to review your resume.
Your application letter should always be addressed to a specific person. If this information is not in the job advertisement, you can usually find this through research or simply by calling the company to find out whom you should address your letter to.
An application letter should clearly identify what job you are going for and describe a little about your relevant experience, making sure you address the selection criteria written in the job advertisement.
It is very important to provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that might not be covered in your resume, such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing sample. This information may be part of the interview selection criteria, and if you haven’t satisfied the initial application process, you will not get to the interview stage.
An application letter should not contain any irrelevant information and should be less than a page in length. Check this carefully, as it must not contain spelling or grammatical errors. It needs to be easy to read and promote your strengths and assets in a way that would interest employers in interviewing you.
Checklist for writing an application letter:
- Address the application letter to a specific person.
- Refer to the position title and job reference number (if applicable).
- Briefly introduce yourself (1-2 sentences).
- Address the selection criteria in the job advertisement.
- Address information specifically requested in job advertisement not included in resume (i.e. starting availability).
- Content should be to the point and simple.
- Keep the length under one page unless otherwise specified by the employer.
- Double check spelling and grammar.
An application letter with all of these requirements will be more effective and will increase the chance of your application making it through to the interview stage of the recruitment process.
The application letter is often required by an employer and they use this to ascertain your communication skills to a degree.
It is best to keep the cover letter concise and to the point so as to keep the Employers attention.
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