I took a phone call recently from a recruiter doing an applicant reference check. I was listed as a referee on the applicant’s resume. The only trouble is I’ve not worked with the person for about ten years, and nor have I spoken to them in that time. Nothing I could say would advance the applicant going forward as I couldn’t speak to a decade of their employment, or even say they’d been working. It brings me back to what I have spoken about before in relation to referees. I can’t emphasise it enough, where possible, they need to be your most recent supervisors, and you need to maintain regular contact checking your referee details remain unchanged, and keeping them up to date with what you are doing. There are a few, but a very few exceptions.
If you have changed your name due to marriage, don’t forget to change your name on your voice mail and any pertinent documents such as email addresses and signatures, or your resume. If you have certificates from when you were single and concerned they may create confusion, you could include your maiden name in brackets in the personal details on your resume. It is about recruiters or employers being able to join the dots easily.
It’s nearly four years since I wrote a post on Tips for School Leavers Looking for Work which can be found here. If you are preparing your resume and wondering how to give it a point of difference, try re-visiting your Work Experience Reports. If you did well in your placements and received good feedback, those comments can be quoted at the top of your resume. How does that help with your job search? While potential employers are looking for aptitude they are also looking for the right attitude. Work Experience Reports can be a good source of detail about your character and personality. They may describe how well you commit to tasks, interact with others and fit in to a team. Don’t forget sporting or school awards either, but only from your time at secondary college and focus on the most recent ones.
21st century resumes can be read in multiple versions of software, via e-recruitment tools, or on a range of devices. It’s important to understand then, that the use of headers in your resume, as with other formatting, needs to be managed carefully.
When I opened a resume recently there were no personal details showing, even though they showed quite clearly on the printed copy. The personal details were contained in a header on the first page and it didn’t show up when I opened the document.The question immediately arose as to how many times this had happened when opened by various tools or differing versions of software.Having not used any other headers or footers the document was lacking name and contact details, so in an environment where resumes often don’t get printed out, this document would be rendered useless on various occasions.If you want to use headers and footers on your resume, that’s fine, I would just suggest that you don’t use a header on the front page, unless you are prepared to take a risk.
Sometimes you have gaps in employment in your resume despite best efforts and often there is no way of covering this up because it will come back to bite you where you are required to complete an application form. When we talk about gaps of concern, generally it means anything over about a month. If you have one of these gaps, look at what you have been doing in that time. Did you travel, build an extension on your house, undertake some training, volunteer at your child’s school, teach yourself how to use power tools, or quite simply, worked on lining up your career ducks in some way.
The most important thing about these gaps is demonstrating where you have taken initiative, been proactive in value adding to skills and not just waiting for something to happen.
Where you are required to complete an application form, if there is provision to add general details or comments, describe those things of value to an employer that you have been doing during the unemployed period.
Gaps in employment don’t automatically need to be negative, the key to dealing with them lies in how you explain them away.
Do you speak a second language? Is that on your resume? Are you the holder of dual passports? Is that on your resume? Either of those two things may give an extra edge in a particular job search.
A significant number of people use their birth year as part of their email address. If you want to avoid the risk of age discrimination when applying for jobs, it may be a good idea to re-think this approach as recruiters and employers are on to it. If you need to use a number, choose one that doesn’t reflect a birthdate, e.g. 00 or 101.