Step 2. Resume & Interview
Your resume is your own personal marketing tool. It should promote and sell your experience, skills, qualifications and abilities to potential employers. Your resume is not simply a statement of the facts of your career. You need to explain who you are, what you have done, and – most importantly – how well you have done it.
It is important that you tailor your resume for each role, by including key words and phrases from the job advertisement. This is where you can make a direct link between your skills and experience, and the skills and experience the recruiter is looking for. Recruiters have limited time to read every resume that crosses their desk, so make it easy for them!
Your resume should be no more than 3-4 pages. Limit the fancy formatting, keep it simple and easy to read. Use spellcheck, and include plenty of white space.
Your resume should include:
- Your name and contact details
- Your education, qualifications and vocational training
- Your employment history, in reverse chronological order (working backwards from your current or most recent job)
- ‘Extra-curricular’ activities, such as volunteer work, or club memberships
- The names and titles of three referees. Contact details can be included, or you can supply these at interview.
For each role, detail the:
- Timeframe (month/year – month/year)
- Company name (including a web address)
- Job Title
- The position you reported to (ie Production Manager, or Sales Director)
Make sure you include key words and terminology, such as the specific databases or software you have used, the equipment or machinery you operated, or the types of products you were selling. Your resume could be added to a database, and these keywords are what will be used to search on. You want your resume appearing in these searches as often as possible.
The most important part of your resume is where you highlight your achievements for each role. You need to provide evidence that you can add value to an organisation. Did you solve a problem, save money, improve procedures, create new business, or exceed your sales targets? Spell these out, and use positive and confident language.
Your resume is a door opener. You have spent time and energy on your application – make sure it is not wasted. Give yourself the best possible chance to catch the recruiter’s interest and ensure they want to find out more about you.
The reference check is a vital part of the recruitment process. It is the recruiter’s opportunity to confirm the skills, behaviours, experiences and achievements that you listed in your resume, and spoke about in your interview.
It is important that you choose your referees wisely. You must ensure that they have consented to provide a reference for you, and that they are aware each time they may be contacted by a recruiter or potential employer.
An ideal referee is someone to whom you reported directly, and who can verify:
- Your employment dates in that role
- Your specific duties and responsibilities in the role, and how well you performed those duties
- The working environments and management styles that suit you
- Your ability to work autonomously, or as part of a team
- How you handle different work situations, such as high pressure or demanding deadlines
- How you got along with your colleagues/managers/clients
The Interview Process
Congratulations! You have successfully made it through the resume shortlisting process, possibly a phone screen or interview with a recruiter, and you have been invited to meet with the Employer. What can you do to give yourself the best chance to clear the final hurdle?
The key to a successful job interview is preparation. Research the organisation, the role, and the industry to get a good overview of what the company does, how they do it, and who they do it for. Use websites, annual reports, social media, newspaper or magazine articles to find out how the company operates. Doing your homework shows a potential employer that you are motivated and enthusiastic, and that you are taking the process as seriously as they are.
Using the advertisement or job description, consider which areas the interviewer is likely to focus on. They want to know exactly how your experience matches their ‘key selection criteria’.
Most interviewers now use ‘behavioural’ or ‘competency’-based questions. This means that they want to know exactly HOW you have handled a particular situation in the past, or how you would handle it in the future. They are looking for EXAMPLES and EVIDENCE.
Make sure you have facts and figures about your previous employment readily available, such as sales figures or budgets. Bring another copy of your resume to work from to jog your memory.
Your interviewer will also ask you why you want the role. They want to know what motivates you. This gives them an idea of how you will fit in to their workplace culture, and whether the role itself will meet your needs. Think about what you like about the organisation as a whole, and what interests you about the specific duties you will be expected to perform in the role.
Your presentation is extremely important. You should look and act like the professional you are. Dress conservatively, and take care with your grooming. Your recruitment consultant may have given you feedback about your presentation – take their advice! They want you to be offered the role as much as you do.
Use your research to prepare questions you would like answered. Remember that the interview is a two-way discussion.
Some other tips:
- Be aware of your body language. Sit up straight, and make eye contact with your interviewer/s.
- Never interrupt or talk over your interviewer.
- Use positive language when describing your previous roles and employers
- Don’t be humble. Detailing your achievements and qualifications is not bragging. Discuss them with confidence.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to clarify or repeat a question.