Résumés: most important part of the job hunt
‘Tis the season for job hunting, at least if you have recently graduated from school or college.
First, be warned. Job hunting in Bermuda is much harder than it once was, and no one should expect to get a job simply because they are Bermudian and they have a newly minted certificate.
Future columns will talk about the job hunt itself, but even before it begins, they should have a basic résumé ready. That's because a résumé takes time and work to prepare. It is the single most important means of determining whether a job applicant will get noticed and will get an interview.
Some of the guides below are applicable to all résumés and will be familiar to regular readers of this column. Others are more important for people who are entering the job market for the first time.
What is true for all résumés is that many people fail to pay sufficient attention to the basics of résumé writing and as a result get stuck at first base in their job search.
Often it's because the same mistakes get made again and again. Employers and hirers also use the résumé review to choose candidates and to eliminate them, especially when there are a lot of applicants. When you make these mistakes, you just made their job easier.
These ten common résumé mistakes will ensure you don't get the interview.
1. Spelling mistakes: the kiss of death. If you are trying to show how detail oriented and careful you are, making a spelling mistake on your own résumé is a job killer. There is no excuse, especially with spellcheck.
2. Chronological disorder: Having jobs overlap, or inexplicable gaps between jobs will doom you as well. So will saying you worked somewhere for five years when your résumé says you were there for three years. This falls under the detail fail again. If you don't know when you worked somewhere, this says nothing good about your memory. Check your dates. Then check them again.
3. Incorrect contact information: Kiss of Death Part III. Yes, it does happen — more often than you think. Giving a potential hirer an out-of-order phone number, the wrong e-mail address and so on sends your résumé straight to File 13.
4. Visually unappealing résumés: People may think that fancy fonts and unusual designs make your résumé stand out. They do, but for all of the wrong reasons. A résumé can be eye catching, but it must also be easy to read and logically laid out so that it is easy to navigate. Above all, it needs to be clear. There may be times when a unique design is worth it — for example for graphic designers or other highly creative jobs. But most companies are looking for someone who seems stable and reliable.
5. Inappropriate e-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org may be the name an applicant wants for their personal e-mail. No doubt their friends get it. For professional job applications and work-related e-mails, email@example.com is the only option. This is not prudery. Who would most people hire to look after their money, their insurance claim or their children? Hotchick or Susan?
For younger applicants, there are different problem with résumés than for someone who has been in work for some time.
The first concerns lack of experience. Younger applicants may have had very few jobs or none at all.
This does not mean past experience does not count.
6. Length: don't make your résumé too long or too short. If you don't have much work experience, emphasise your educational attainments more — including prizes and awards — and you should also include extracurricular activities.
7. Don't underplay your skills: if you haven't had much work experience, emphasise your skills and talents and provide evidence of them. For example, if you are good with people, show work or experiences that reflect this.
8. Irrelevance: if you are applying for a job in sales, don't send a résumé that emphasises your experience in something else. Make sure your résumé reflects the job you are applying for. Again, for younger applicants, you will need to emphasise the skills you possess for the job.
9. Gaps: Gaps in a résumé are an instant red flag. Include all of your work experience, even if it ended badly. You can explain what went wrong in the interview. But if you leave it out and the hirer figures it out (easily done in Bermuda), you won't get the interview.
10. Vagueness: which is better?
A. Worked as a waiter in a restaurant.
B. Worked as a waiter in a restaurant and won most promising young employee award. Received letters of praise from customers for superb service.
This is the same job. Who would you hire?
Bill Zuill is marketing director of Bermuda Executive Services Ltd, which was named as Bermuda's best employment agency for 2015 by The Bermudian magazine. If you have questions about employment, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org BES's blog is also available on www.bermudaemployment.com