Your resume is the first thing a potential employer will see from you. Make sure you take time planning and thinking about your resume, which is not just an overview of your technical skills but should also demonstrate your written, communication and organisational skills.
Your resume can make you stand out from the crowd and persuade the employer to move your application onto the next stage. Remember, there may be many people applying for the same job. So why should an employer shortlist you above others?
Things to triple check: spelling, dates of employment, tenses. Read and re-read: spell check will not pick up on all errors, punctuation or misused words (e.g. Manger instead of Manager).
How long should my resume be?
The most important thing to remember when writing your resume is to be concise and specific.
It should be long enough to provide specific details of your experience that is most relevant to the role you are seeking. List what you actually did and what you have achieved.
Concentrate on providing a detailed description of your work over the last 5-7 years. You can list earlier experience, but keep it brief.
If you were part of a team, detail the team’s work/project and provide details of the actual work you did within that project.
What about my references?
You should have three recent referees available to provide references for you.
Your referees should be people who can provide detailed responses on how well you performed your tasks and responsibilities, they should be someone you actually reported to and you must get their permission first.
Keep in contact with your referees, especially when you are actively seeking a new role as it is likely that someone will call them and ask about you.
Quick list – Resume do’s
- Make sure your resume is easy to read, concise and to the point.
- Address each selection criteria listed in the job advertisement and make sure these are also listed in the body of your resume.
- Stick to short sentences and keywords.
- List your outcomes and achievements – not just your daily activity.
- Be sure to focus on what you can do for the employer, include specific examples.
- Always quantify your past achievements and experiences.
- Use a font that is easily legible – take extra pages if needed to explain your relevant experience.
- Be specific. Keep to the point and include only what will sell your skills and abilities.
- Use white space in your resume. It’s easier to digest and looks better than a cluttered resume.
We are keen to provide you with all the support you need to perform at your best and have outlined below a number of tools and techniques that you may find useful. Above all else remember, there are two key elements to successful interviewing – preparation and enthusiasm.
Before the Interview
Preparation is essential and greatly enhances your chances of performing well. Here are some tips on interview preparation:
- Ensure your consultant has provided you with a detailed understanding of the position, the team environment and the organisation
- Conduct additional research regarding the organisation through reading annual reports and researching on the internet. Understand its products/services, size, locations, financial situation and growth potential
- Make sure you know exactly where you are going and always be on time
- Dress conservatively and pay attention to all facets of your dress and grooming
- Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and their title. Be prepared to convey to the interviewer why this role appeals to you, why they should consider you for this role and what makes you a bit different from other candidates
- Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview
- Remember that an interview is a two-way street. The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. You must determine through questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek
Examples of questions you might ask:
- What would a normal day in this role look like?
- Why is the position available?
- How would you describe your organisational culture?
- What induction and training programs does the organisation offer?
- What sort of people have done well in this team/organisation?
- How is the company positioned against its competitors?
- What is the next step in the process?
Interview Structure and Style
Competency Based Interviews Competency Based Interviews are the most prevalent style of interviewing. This type of interviewing style, also known as behavioral interviewing, requires you to draw on past experience and describe specific examples of incidents that demonstrate your competence in a particular area. The most effective way of answering these questions is to use the ‘STAR’ technique:
- SITUATION – briefly describe the background to the situation
- TASK – specifically describe your responsibility
- ACTION – Describe what you did
- RESULT – describe the outcome of your actions
You may be required to provide between one and three real life examples to validate on particular competence. Be prepared with answers and supporting examples to standard questions such as:
- What are your career aspirations?
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- What interests you about this role?
- Of your previous jobs, which one did you enjoy the most and why?
- How have you managed conflict in the past?
- Describe what you have done in your career that shows your initiative?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What are your strengths?
- What does team work mean to you?
- What management style gets the best from you?
- What have been your major achievements to date?
- Remember that you are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to hire somebody – not because he/she wants to trip you up or embarrass you. Through the interaction that takes place during the interview, he/she will be searching out your strong and weak points, evaluating you on your qualifications, skills and intellectual qualities and he/she will probably probe deeply to determine your attitudes, aptitudes, stability, motivation and maturity.
Closing the Interview
- If you are interested in the position, make sure you tell the interviewer that.
- Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration of you. You have done all you can if you have answered the two questions uppermost in their mind:
- Why are you interested in the job and company?
- What can you offer and can you do the job?
After the Interview
Last but not least, call your consultant at Peoplebank who referred you to the position immediately after the interview and provide feedback. Your consultant will want to speak with you before the interviewer calls and will appreciate the courtesy of your feedback. If you are interested in progressing further it will assist if your feelings towards the position are known, together with the perception of what the client’s reaction is likely to be.
FINALLY – Relax, you have done all you can.
Quick list – Interview Do’s
- Be on time – you should aim to arrive 10-15 minutes before your interview starts.
- Pay attention to your personal grooming and dress appropriately for the organisation – research this before your interview.
- Your success or failure in an interview is determined within the first five minutes – make sure you create a positive first impression.
- Be sure to smile, give a firm handshake, maintain eye contact and importantly have positive and interested body language.
- At the beginning of an interview be ready to discuss some of your interests and experiences (most often those outside of work) as an icebreaker.
- Demonstrate to the interviewer that you have a good understanding of the industry, the company and the role by adding information you have learnt from research to your answers and by asking informed questions of your interviewer
- Prepare specific questions about the role and company that you wish to ask.
- When answering questions, use practical examples from past experiences that demonstrate you have the skills and personality traits for the job.
- Take your time before answering questions, although not too much time.
- Listen carefully to questions, if you don’t understand a question, or did not hear it properly, ask for clarification.
- Always be sure to connect your skills and experience to the needs of the employer.
- Keep positive throughout – even if the interview seems a disaster.
- Sell yourself. Your resume has got you this far, but you now need to communicate why you are the right person for the job.
- Remember it is an interview – don’t be too informal, even though the interviewer may have put you at ease.
- Always thank them for their time and let them know that you are interested in the role.