When I think back on all the resumes I’ve seen, which ones do I remember the most? The ones that stood out - for all the wrong reasons!
On your own, you can find lots of web sites, books, and articles that dive deep into the topic of how to prepare a resume. Instead, I’d like to share tips that are from the point of view of the recruiter. Here are five things that you can do to make the recruiter’s job easier and therefore, potentially, have it work in your favour:
1. Save your resume as a PDF.
A PDF file is easy to share with hiring managers and it also prevents any unexpected edits from happening. It’s a simple step that you can do right in Microsoft WORD. Maintain a WORD version on your computer so you can make updates at any time.
2. Save the document with your name as the file name.
There’s no need to get fancy. Call your resume document, YOURNAME_RESUME. And your cover letter (if you do a separate one), YOURNAME_COVER LETTER. It makes it easier for the recruiter to know which is which and it’s a great way to reinforce your name and keep it top of mind.
3. Provide a professional email address.
This might sound trivial, but this is where some past resumes have made me laugh out loud! I’ve seen email addresses that included “hot”, “cutie” and “juicy” in their names. Instead, keep it simple: Firstname.Lastname@emailprovider.com. It makes following up with applicants much easier.
4. Ensure all your contact info is correct and consistent.
I’ve had this happen where an applicant provided an email address (or phone number) in their cover letter and it was different then what was written on their resume. Not a good first impression.
5. Take your time to proof read and check for spelling errors.
When a lot of time is spent staring at and editing your own work, you’re bound to miss some mistakes. Always get someone else to proof read your work. It looks really bad when you’ve listed “detail-oriented” as a skill and errors are found on your resume!
My last comment is on the choice of resume format: Chronological vs Functional. I think the chronological resume is the better option. This choice makes sense no matter how long you’ve been at home. Chronological resumes, if done correctly, still allow you to showcase your accomplishments and skills while helping the recruiter understand your career history. And it’s a great tool when preparing for interviews.
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You've made the decision to go back to work. It might be the same type of work you did before, or you might want to do something completely different. Either way, the number of postings can get overwhelming. Here’s a way to prevent that.
Focus on the job requirements. Sounds simple but there’s more to it. Ideally you should be fulfilling at least 70% of the requirements, because that’s how most HR departments are determining whether or not you make the first cut. After that you will eventually meet the hiring manager. The questions asked during the interview will undoubtedly come from those same requirements.
Let’s look at the difference between “transferable skills” and “technical skills”. Of course job postings don’t break it down that way (that would be too easy). Instead, it’s up to you when looking at the requirements section of the posting, to figure it out.
Transferable skills should be where you’ll check off most of the boxes. Below is a list of the most common transferable skills. From the list below, you’ll see quite quickly that some of these skills are already in your repertoire:
The tough part is how you convey those skills to an employer on your resume or during an interview. But it’s not impossible. Start by choosing one of the above skills and then reflect on your daily, weekly and monthly activities. Build a list of examples. Do it for each transferable skill. Then work those examples into the “accomplishments” section of your resume. During an interview, use those examples to help you respond and answer questions.
Technical skills are more black and white. Either you have them or you don’t. These include skills and/or knowledge that has a specific focus (i.e. graphic designer, network administrator, an accounting designation, etc.). In most cases these skills would have been obtained through your education or from professional associations.
If you keep your job search laser focused, you’ll make better use of your time and (hopefully) in less time, see the results you want.
Ok, you've figured out what kind of work you're looking for. You’ve crafted a wonderful resume and you’re ready to start job hunting. Awesome! What does that look like exactly?
Well, depending on when you decided to stay at home and the last time you looked for work, you might have been looking at a print ad. Yeah that’s right – a newspaper/trades magazine! I remember creating a folder for each different magazine and newspaper so I could keep the deadlines, costs and print dates straight. While somethings have changed, not everything has when it comes to finding out who’s hiring.
Online job sites are the most popular way to find out who hiring and what jobs are available. I often get asked, what are the best sites to find a job? Here are some of the more popular sites where employers are posting:
The list goes on really. The good news is that most of these sites allow you to set up an alert for future postings. So get specific with your industry of interest, location and type of work; no point filling up your inbox unnecessarily. When you receive a notification, make sure you read the full posting. Just because it matches your search criteria, you still should make sure it matches your interest criteria.
Another great way to find work is through networking. Networking can uncover those opportunities that are not posted, and unlike the above method, it can really minimize your competition. Meetup.com is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals. But keep it simple to start. Think about who you know. Make a list of friends, family, and other moms. You’d be surprised how long that list will become! Once you spread the word that you’re looking to go back to work, your reach and chances to learn about opportunities increases substantially!
Alternatively, you could get someone else to do the search for you. Partnering with a Recruitment agency can be like one stop shopping. Some popular agencies are:
Not all agencies are created equally, so best to partner with one that specializes in your area of interest. The process is simple: you meet with one of their representatives, give them your resume and tell them what you’re looking for. They in turn, comb through their database of open opportunities and look for matches. Of course, the trade-off is that the work may be short term and it’s difficult to control where you end up working.
Whether you use one method, or a combination, it's important to use the method that works best for you!