Submit your best resume or job hunting tip to win a Google notebook

job ad.jpgDid you kick off the new year by revamping your resume or have you been actively looking for work? Then Lifehacker needs your tips! This week we'll be giving away five notebooks to the top five resume or job search related tips which are submitted in comments on this post.

Google's Open Source programs team have donated some cool prizes - a stack of black "I can't believe it's not Moleskine" lined notebooks. We have five notebooks to give away to the top five tipsters. The competition is open until 5pm this Friday (14 March) so you can enter multiple times if you like. Fine print and competition details are here.


    Attempt to match your skills and abilities to the job description. If you can distinguish yourself, e.g. working in the same niche industry, like I.T. in mining. You will need something in your application that will not only match your suitability to the position, but stand out slightly.

    The whole job application process is how well you market yourself, so you have to continually present a positive approach. Do not over do it, by turning points into lies.

    During your written application, attempt to focus on your previous achievements with less emphasis on responsibilities. Do not exclude your responsibilities out totally, but emphasize on improvements, increased sales, presenting effective and efficient ideas and methodologies, high academic grades.

    If you possess experience in a much specialised industry, you can setup to automatically email new jobs which match your specific criteria.

    Always address all points in the job description, meaning the selection criteria. Do not neglect other sections of the description.

    Attempt to apply directly to companies or privately listed companies and avoid recruitment agencies. You’ll avoid to loss of commission to the agency and you’ll possibly find it easier getting through the first stage, especially if your skills and experience do not directly correlate with the job description.

    You may want to use a temporary personalized but professional looking email address when applying, e.g. [email protected]

    Top 5 Tips:

    1. Spell check and grammar check your resume. Get someone to proofread your resume, the more the merrier. If you're close with your supervisor/boss, ask them if they would hire you with that resume.

    2. Always request written referrals. If you're like me and most of your jobs are short term consultations (even if they aren't!) make it clear that you would like a written referral before you close up your current job and move on to the next one. Pick the best one (or two, no more) and attach them to your resume. Keep the rest for use in the interview. Your ex-boss might not remember you, but the written words will ensure that your good work and effort is preserved for all to see.

    3. Research the company and personalize your resume to suit. If you can, find out what the people are like. Typically companies want to hire people that fit in more than simply someone that fits the bill. For example, ensure that the title heading in the resume (or purpose line) includes the name of the job and the company you are applying for - this will distinguish you from mass-mailers. If the company is suit and tie formal, make sure your resume is done in a professional, no-nonsense style. If the company is filled with creative types, a different and wacky format might give you a better shot.

    4. Match your resume to the posted job requirements. In the section where you list your job skills, format it so that the reader can tick off your areas of expertise with the posted requirements easily. I find this is done best by ordering it so that it matches the posted ad. If you have any areas of deficiencies, don't lie! Chances are, if they got this fair you're not in the discard pile and you'll be able address them at your interview.

    5. Obey the law of 3S. Short, Sharp and Strengths. The interviewer probably has tones of resumes to read, so make it easy on him/her by keeping it Short and Sharp. Play up your Strengths as much as possible without going overboard. Its and ad for yourself, after all.

    Keeping track of new and upcoming jobs can be difficult. I found it really helpful to use RSS feeds to track new jobs that appear. This not only gives you the opportunity to be the first few to apply but to also track what other jobs/companies are paying.

    You can search for your own name in a google search and see what comes up. If there is anything 'not-100%-positive' you should consider balancing it with a few blog entries and/or profile pages on yourself which will turn up in a google search, these can also be a handy way of reinforcing your CV with past jobs and short mentions of the work you have been involved in. At the very least it show that you are web-savvy. I google my new colleagues and i am not in HR, i imagine the recruiters are doing the same...

    Most employers get a number of calls after the initial interviews and to put it bluntly it sounds very lame saying 'how did i go?', imagine calling a date to ask that after a nice dinner...? You are much better off calling and offering something else, think WIIFM (Whats In It For Me) since this type of thinking will appeal to the employers mindset. I call and introduce my self and say 'I just wanted to get in touch as i have two additional references since i saw you.' Make sure you actually have them, but it will show that you have been actively thinking about their company and about your prospective job (in most cases over the weekend) and for the curious you will usually find out how your interview went anyway, without sounding lame. 9/10 times this will be the tilter in getting a second interview anyway so regardless of how you went, none of the other candidates will have pulled this trump card!

    Going through a recruitment agency can be costly, they will not charge you but they do need to make money. To do this they charge the hiring company for finding you, generally this is around 15% of the first year's salary. Add to this the fact that you have not shown much apptitude in searching for or presenting for the position and it is far less enticing for the hiring company to hire you and pay the recruiters' fee. Recruitment really is a top level game and should be seen as a lazy, non-compelling move for 90% of us workers.

    On the first page of your resume include a passport sized photograph of yourself. Recruiters often interview many candidates and matching a resume to an interview through your photo can highlight you in their minds.

    Embedding the photo in your resume so that it prints on the page also adds to the professionalism of your resume.

    Do your homework!
    If you can spend 20 minutes googling your new company, their CEO, current projects, corporate boxes at events, and anything else which falls into their 'corporate culture' you will make things far easier for your interview. Chatting casually about these things and dropping a few key names and titles and issues will make the conversation far more relaxed for the interviewer and this will carry over to their opinion of you, as well as the recognition for the knowledge you have. This 20 minutes could be more valuable to you than any time you spend your new job as it could mean a difference of up to $20,000 a year in earnings. Thats a lot for 20 minutes worth of work!

    1. When sending an application via the Post, don't file the paper, use a A4 sized envelope.

    2. Place your name and phone number in the footer of the Resume and Selection Criteria in a small font, in case the pages get lost or messed up the HR person knows who it belongs to.

    Don't just state your experience or regurgite the requirements, but give examples of how you have met the requirements in your past work. Explain what you actually did in your last job to achieve a similar result to what they're looking for.

    I have found that the thing that gets me the interview most of the time is something to tweak the readers interest, like unusual skills or previous job descriptions. You know when you've got it, as its one of the first things the interviewer brings up.

    It is important to remember the old saying "you never get a second chance to make a good first impression." This means when writing your resume and taking an interview you need to be considering what type of first impression you are making. Imagine you are the boss and you have the choose between many hundreds of applicants. You need to give them a reason to choose you.

    Resume/CV - First Impressions

    1. Spelling and grammar.
    It might seem like common sense, but this is really important.

    2. Presentation and layout.
    Does your resume look professional? Does it contain distracting features like different fonts, sizes, colours or pictures. Take some time to get this right.

    3. Length.
    Don't waffle, the interviewer may have read through many of these by the time they reach yours. They will appreciate a resume that is right to the point. Include all the relevant details.

    4. Why you?
    Always try to include a unique section in your resume explaining why your skills suit the job you have applied for. Explain what you will bring to the job. In this section you could also include anything specific you know about the company.

    Interview - First Impressions

    1. Prepare
    One of the favourite techniques for interviewers is to ask you what you know about the company. If possible, try to visit the company before your interview. Get to know what they do including their work ethic and culture. You can also try to find some background information about the company, which will be useful in your interview.

    2. Confidence
    It is important to act confident in your skills and qualifications for the job you are interviewing for. Don't mistake this for over confidence and present like you already have the job.

    3. Look the part
    Follow the old saying "dress to impress." Again try to visit the workplace and take notice of what the workers are wearing.

    4. Take a risk.
    Have a look around the office and try to spot something of interest that you can talk about. Take note of any pictures, sporting items or anything you have in common with the interviewer. Generally, interviewers like to employ people that they get along with. If this technique does not seem to be working stop the tactic immediately.

    With these few tips you can be sure of making a solid first impression.

    Most of the jobs that I am interested in are advertised online. I usually apply online but also follow up with a physical letter to the recruiter.

    The recruiter will probably receive heaps of emailed responses but very few mailed resumes.

    Most ads don't include a mailing address but that can be easily resolved by Googling the company.

    I have also created a customised coffee coaster that invites the recipient to "have a coffee on me" and includes my contact details in order to encourage a face to face meeting rather than just email or phone conversations.

    1. If you think you will be a top candidate, call up the recruiter and find out more about the role and whether your experience fits in to what they're looking for. That way you would've made a first impression already and the recruiter will keep his/her eyes out for your resume.

    2. Tailor your resume and cover letter to suit the job. Don't have a generic one which you send out because the recruiter can tell. If the role requires people skills, highlight your customer service experience. If the role is more administrative focused, point out your organisational skills and your attention to detail.

    3. Keep the cover letter under one page and the resume under two pages. Your resume should be short and concise, no one needs to scroll through five pages of your experience. By the third page, most people have lost interest. List only your four to five most recent jobs. You don't need to include the odd casual in-between job you held for only a week and you certainly don't need to include the job you had over a twenty years ago.

    4. If you're applying via a recruitment agency, don't apply for all the jobs they have on. They'd know and it'd make you look desperate when they see that you've applied for the IT technician role along with the Teller job and the Accounts administrator. Be selective on the roles you apply for make sure you have the skills and industry knowledge needed.

    5. Not only should you spell check, but also check the layout and the consistency. Have you chosen an easy to read font? Are there enough white spaces? Have you bolded one title but not the other? Keep it neat and simple. You don't need colours, pictures or borders. Make sure it's in a .doc format and that you've given it an appropriate name (eg. Jsmith_resume as oppose to thegoodresume_final).

    6. Don't repeat what you have in your resume in the cover letter. Your cover letter should reveal more about your personality, why you're interested in the job and most importantly, why you're interested in the company. If you're applying to a recruitment agency and don't know which company it is, simply talk about why you're interested in the industry (such as banking, IT, law etc).

    7. For interview, it's all about preparation but rocking up on the day calm and smooth. Don't memorise answers as it'd come across to stiff and fake. I good resource I use is the Seek Interview Wizard. Although this resource is for the interviewer, it provides an insight for the interviewee to see what the interviewer is looking for.

    Assuming you get an interview:
    Research the company by asking around, you can even consider giving the nearest chamber of commerce a call. Getting information this way is much more interesting than just doing a drive-by of their (possibly out of date) website.

    I attended a seminar on Resumes recently and found you have only a 30 seconds to make an impact. We are all taught at school the basic way to apply for a position and to submit a cover letter. The suggestion was to start with a cover page outlining your skills an experience in point form so that your suitablity can be assessed immediately and guess what it works! Behind this put your Resume and you never know it may be read!!

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