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.

Resume Retention

As my clients know, I hold resumes I’ve prepared on file so that in the event of loss of USB sticks or if a client needs a resume to be forwarded when working FIFO, I’m able to assist with that need. As I now have so many files, from today, clients who have not accessed any service for five years or more will be deleted from the system.

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.

Competing in a Tighter Job Market

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Made redundant recently, or current project come to an end? If so, you may be finding it a bit of a challenge to get work at the moment, or at least to get work as quickly as before, particularly in industries such as mining or oil and gas. How do you address that? Perhaps it’s time to re-assess your approach. Here are some things you can do.

  • Remember, over 70% of all jobs are filled worth of mouth, so who are you talking to?
  • Registering on Linkedin, the professional networking site at https://www.linkedin.com may help. Take a peak, play with it, look out for names you know, make the connection. There are job listings as well and you can follow companies. If you do decide to register, it will take commitment to set up your profile and check in regularly to monitor areas of interest.
  • Now for your resume, fold the first page in half and look at what is listed in the top half. Will it make a recruiter want to read more? No? You may need to make changes as we know a resume gets between 10 and 20 seconds attention, sometimes less.
  • Is your resume e-recruitment tool compatible? In the 21st century it needs to be.
  • Check resume details, start at the top. Your personal details – has your address or phone number changed? If you have included your date of birth, delete, it might be working against you, even if you are young.
  • Your email address, is it a professional one or something like whackojacko@thrive.com? If a recruiter cherry picks your email address onto a spreadsheet or similar, which email address do you think will keep your name up front and centre, whackojacko@thrive.com or yourname@thrive.com? It’s best to use your name in a job search email address, and again, don’t use your birth year if you need to use a number.
  • Set up signatures in your email account. Include your name, your job title, email address and phone number, and Linkedin address too if you want. Use every opportunity like this to brand yourself.
  • Make sure you have your name, phone number and email address on each page of your resume.
  • Qualifications and training – are the details up to date? Add any recent training you have completed. Check the expiry dates of listed training and licences to ensure currency (and check your licence cards, e.g. your Licence to Perform High Risk Work to make sure renewal hasn’t escaped notice).
  • How long is it since you have undertaken any training to improve skills? Many of the large employers favour people who are continually value adding to skills, and yes, I know it costs, but it may be worthwhile.
  • Your most recent job, has it been added to your resume? You would be surprised how many people forget to do that.
  • How long is it since you spoke to your referees? With so many people working on short term contracts and projects, details can change quickly. Check-in with your referees, make sure they are still willing to be your referee and that all contact details are up to date. Tell them what your intentions are, who you are applying to. It’s an important conversation to have as referees can make or break a job application. They may also have the inside scoop on upcoming jobs. It has become important to include referee email addresses as many recruiters and employers are electing to send out questionnaires rather than phoning.
  • And finally, make sure your social media is squeaky clean, over 90% of employers and recruiters will google your name to see what comes up.

While not an exhaustive list, it will help to make changes knowing that just one small change might give you the competitive edge in getting over the line. Attention to detail, presentation and professionalism are important, particularly in a tight market.

Tips on choosing referees

Normally recruiters and potential employers like to see your most recent supervisors named as your referees as they are the person in authority with first-hand knowledge of your work. What happens then when you are not in the position to offer supervisors as referees, as in the case of people who have been self-employed and who are now seeking to return to work for someone else? It means widening the net. If you have been working in a self-employed role, think about professionals you may have dealt with often over the course of your self-employment, such as your accountant, a supplier, or a regular consistent purchaser of your goods or services. Another potential source is where you may have served long-term in a voluntary role with organisations such as the CFA or a local business group. Sourcing appropriate referees in these circumstances is not an insurmountable issue it just takes a little extra time and thought. And remember don’t just name an individual as your referee without first seeking their agreement to act in the role.To do otherwise may turn out to be an act of self-sabotage.

File Names for your Job Search Documents

You may have used your name in the file name of your resume, but what about your other job search documents?

When scanning certificates and licences for uploading into online job applications, again, use your name as part of the file name, for example, Joe Bloggs Licences.pdf, or Joe Bloggs Licences.jpg; make sure though, that you have read the requirements relating to what type of files the recruiter/employer will accept, and strictly comply with that instruction.  Recruiters and potential employers have their reasons for those stated requirements.

At every opportunity, use your name in all file names related to your job search. It makes you easier to find.  It’s all about using every available opportunity to keep your name up front and centre.