Choose Referees Wisely

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.

Using Your Work Experience Reports Smartly

toolsIt’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.

One Risk in Using Headers

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.

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.

Do I need my landline number on my Resume …

Do you need your landline phone number on your Resume?  Not usually, unless you live in an area where mobile coverage is poor or non-existent which can occur surprisingly close to major cities.  Including your mobile number on your Resume is critical, as is an appropriate email address.  Where you have poor mobile coverage, it may be worth including both phone numbers on your Resume. Whether it is your landline or mobile number, make sure you have a professional voicemail message on both.

Driver’s Licence on your Resume?

dashboard-1856_640Have you included your driver’s licence on your resume? If not, why not? Is it a case of just forgetting to, or is it thinking that it is not relevant to the job you are applying for?

Even though a reason to include it isn’t obvious and the job advertisement doesn’t state the need for a driver’s licence in the selection criteria; should you include it in your resume anyway?

Yes, is my resounding answer, it is a good idea to include it? Why? My experience is that even though it is not always stated in a job advertisement that a driver’s licence is required, sometimes ‘current driver’s licence’ are keywords entered into an applicant tracking system which is used to read applicant resumes and eliminate those not meeting the job requirements. Check your resume to see if you have included your driver’s licence and if you haven’t, weigh up whether it may be wise to do so.

Some Random Thoughts on Resumes

A resume is not a one size fits all document.

Your resume has one purpose and one purpose only, to gain an interview.

Use your name in the file name of your resume document. Your resume will stand out if you end up on a list.

Have you included your name and mobile number on every page of your resume? Keeps your name in front of the recruiter and will make it easy to put your resume back together if the pages get separated.

Choose a font for your resume carefully. Some companies scan resumes and not all fonts scan well. Keep it simple – arial, verdana or calibri are just a few examples of good, simple, clear fonts.

Do you speak another language? Is that on your resume? Could be to your advantage…..

A photo is a risky strategy and may give an employer an opportunity to discriminate against you.

Is formatting important in your Resume? Absolutely, for presentation, consistency and if you are sending via email………

Don’t put anything in your resume that would allow an employer to discriminate against you, e.g. Date of birth, age, marital status, children or ages of children.

When writing your resume, make sure you spell out uncommon industry specific abbreviations.

Who are you? What are your talents and personality traits? What is your unique contribution in the workplace, what are you the ‘go to’ person for? Does your current resume reflect the answers to these questions?

How to make a recruiter’s job easier, don’t fold your resume.

Do not lie on your resume – ever!

Should I include my secondary education on my resume?

mathematics-80449_640Good question……again there is no definitive answer but listed below are some thoughts and questions to consider in deciding whether to include your secondary education on your resume.

  1. Firstly, remember that a resume has only one purpose and that is to get you an interview, so anything that you include on it needs to promote you in a positive way, anything that paints a negative picture in any way needs to be left out if possible.
  2. So what year level did you go to at secondary school and does the year level achieved create a positive or negative image?
  3. How old are you and how long have you been working?
  4. What industry, sector or profession are you employed in?

When working with clients, I usually start with the question of how old they are and then examine what they do and the length and depth of their work history.  For instance, if you are a teacher, including your secondary education on your resume may benefit your application, particularly if you went to a prestigious school.  On the other hand if you are a forty-five year old tradesman who finished secondary school at the end of year 10, have gone on to complete a mechanical trade and are currently employed in the mining sector; then your secondary education becomes irrelevant.

To tease out the pros and cons, I generally use what I call my under 30 / over 30 rule.  If you are 30 years old or over, have completed further training since you left school and you did not complete VCE, then I leave secondary education off the resume.  If you are under 30 years old and your work history is not so strong, you have not completed further training since leaving school and you did complete VCE, then I include secondary education on the resume.

It is to be noted, that if you are filling out an application form which asks for your secondary education, then you need to complete that section, but it doesn’t automatically follow that you should then include it on your resume.

What will your referees say about you?

phone-2127_640The days of written references are gone and referees need to be carefully considered and chosen.  They also need to be individuals who are easily contactable by modern means.

In choosing suitable individuals to list as your referees, answers to the following two questions are essential.

  1. What makes a good referee
  2. And secondly, how can you make your referee’s job easier and more effective?

Before answering these questions important ground rules and details relating to referees need to be thought about.

  1. Never list a person on your resume as a referee unless you have sought their agreement to the role.
  2. Make sure you have a minimum of two referees with a number of additional people if possible to draw from.
  3. You will need the name, current role and employer, (previous role and employer as well if that is where they supervised you), their email address and the contact telephone numbers of their choice.  Make sure all details are kept up to date and correct if they have been on your resume for a while.

Now to the first question, what makes a good referee?

  1. They need to be someone who has supervised you, preferably in your current role, but if you don’t want your existing employer to know you are looking for another job, your immediate supervisor in your previous role.
  2. Use different referees for different job applications so that the best individual will speak to the specifics of the job you are applying for.
  3. If you are a school leaver approach your careers teacher or a supervisor where you undertook work experience.
  4. If you have been self employed and consequently don’t have supervisors who can assume the role of referee, look to your business associates who can speak to your work or characteristics, for example your business accountant, bank manager, a supplier or a satisfied repeat customer.
  5. The best referee will answer a resounding ‘Yes!’ without hesitation when asked the 64 million dollar question, ‘would you re-employ (insert your name here)?’ If you have any doubts they would answer with a resounding yes, use a different referee.

Secondly, how can you make your referee’s job easier and more effective?

  1. Speak to your referees about what you are doing, provide them with copies of the advertisements and position descriptions of the jobs you are applying for.
  2. Have a conversation with your referee and remind them how what you do or previously did, are connected to the job you are applying for.

And finally, in answer to the question of whether or not you should list your referees on your resume; there is no definitive answer.  Personally, I come down on the side of making the recruiter’s job easier and so I list referees on resumes unless otherwise indicated.

Over to you now, what do you think your referees will say about you, have you considered and addressed all aspects relevant to the role of a referee?  Are you making the most of this element of your job application?

Core Resume Document

Many people with a significant career history come to me seeking assistance with their resumes.  Often the resume they submit for consideration to recruitment companies or in application for jobs is more like a novel than a resume.

The major mistake applicants make is in trying to tell the recruiter what they think they want to know rather than what the recruiter actually does want to know.  I think I have said before that a resume is not a one size fits all document.

I recommend to clients that they develop what I call a core resume, or master document that holds every ounce of information relating to their working life from day dot.   Then when applying for individual positions, use what is relevant from the core document to develop your resume for any given job.

Some of the clients I assist are fresh out of school, university or just completing apprenticeships.  I am encouraging them to develop and maintain these core resumes; to develop a mindset that includes this task as part of their working life.

It makes applying for jobs so much easier.