How Much Does Coles Pay A 15 Year Old Australia Top 10 Mistakes on CVs and Resumes

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Top 10 Mistakes on CVs and Resumes

I read between 50 to 100 CVs per day in my job, so I thought I would offer some advice to those job seekers out there who are having trouble getting interviews for the roles to which they feel they are suited. I am not astounded any more because I see the same mistakes repeated daily, but when I first started in the recruitment business I was flabbergasted that one of the most important documents in a person’s life was afforded such little care and attention. The CVs or resumes that I receive on a daily basis are riddled with spelling mistakes, poor grammar or are incomprehensible.

Here are a few of my favourite spelling mistakes.

  • “SWAT Analysis” – What does the A stand for?
  • “web sight” – looks good!
  • “proffessional” – very

Below is my Top 10 Mistakes or areas where people let themselves down in the job market.

1. Spelling, Grammar and Typos.

There are no excuses, you have access to spelling checkers, grammar checkers and can ask friends, family and work colleagues to read over you resume. I am sure I will make mistakes in this blog, but it is nowhere near as important as the first impression a mistake will make on a gate-keeper like me or a potential employer. If you can pick up the errors I make here – you can proof-read your own CV!

A recent survey of employers found that 38% of would reject a resume based on finding the first spelling mistake, by two mistakes this was up to 64%. But you don’t need statistics to tell you that if you make a typo or a spelling error and send it through to an employer without noticing and correcting it, you’re in trouble. I think that you either aren’t smart enough to get help or too lazy to be bothered, reject pressed.

2. Cover Letter

Don’t get too hung up on the cover letter. I know some recruiters who don’t even read them. I do, for three reasons.

a) To see if you have the ability to put a formal business letter together. Might sound stupid in this day and age but you need a foundation to build on and this demonstrates some bedrock at least.

b) To see if you have analysed the job advertisement and thought about the role and the company, and put some time into customising a letter to cover your resume. So many times I get cover letters referring to other roles and addressed to different companies. This is a sign of a desperate candidate who is shooting applications for every role under the sun.

c) To see if I can learn why you are looking for a new role. It’s this motivation that gives a significant insight into the candidate’s ability to perform in their next role.The important thing about the cover letter is:

  • No spelling mistakes!
  • 1 page only
  • Customise for each application
  • It’s not all about what you want to do, how can the company benefit?

3. Career Objectives

I don’t know when this idea of putting a career objective at the top of your resume came into fashion but in my opinion it is pointless and most likely inaccurate. If you have got any brains you will try to suck up and make the objective fit the job, if you don’t it will read something like this.

“With 10 years of extensive management experience in the oil industry, I seek a senior management position which will allow me to utilize my experiences to mentor and train my team.”

I cannot see any positive from attaching a career objective to a resume, I can only see negatives:

  • It pigeon-holes you – maybe I don’t want someone to mentor and train a team or someone from the oil industry
  • You can look too ambitious or not ambitious enough
  • They are too general and self-serving

If you really think you need to convey this information then put it in your cover letter and customise it to each role you are applying for.

4. Your Resume Looks Like a Job Description

Do not use statements like “Responsible for” or “Duties included”, these are phrases that belong in a Job Description not in a resume. You need to focus on the accomplishments and achievements in you current and previous roles and identify how you have gone the extra yard. How did your current or previous employers benefit from having you as an employee:

  • Did you attract new customers. How many?
  • Did you save the business money. How much?
  • Did you implement a specific program. What and how long did it take?
  • Did you make the business more efficient. How and by how much?

Employers will expect that you will be able to cover of the specified duties of the position so there is not need to regurgitate these. You need to show why you will add more value than any of the other candidates. This is your big chance to stimulate interest and make yourself stand out from the crowd by demonstrating your achievements.

5. What do you do again?

Ever get asked at a party what you do for a living and you can see the other person’s eyes glaze over about 0.1 of a second after you have started answering? That is me when I read about 50% of resumes, and I know what I am looking for! I know the jargon, I know the companies, I know the job titles.

“Explain it to me like I am a 4 year old “

Don’t think that this contradicts the point above, but we need some detail about the company, your customers, both internal and external, and your products or services.

The COMPANY you worked for – tell me about it:

  • Briefly describe the business.
  • How big is it, approximate revenues, no of employees, etc?
  • How old is it?
  • Major competitors

If you don’t do this and I don’t know the company I will have to go online and spend time looking it up. Why waste my time when you already know all the answers.

What you worked on, tell me about it:

  • What accounts did you manage, Coles, IBM, FOX?
  • What product/brands did you manage, Duracell, Libra, VB?
  • What brand of machinery did you use, Schindler, CASE, Canon?
  • What suppliers did you use, AC Nielsen, Saatchi & Saatchi, SAP?

Give me the specifics so I can understand the complexity of your previous roles and if you are suitable for the job you have applied for. The detail allows me to also track your career progression and look at the decisions you have made in the past to change jobs.

Tell me who you REPORTED to and who your REPORTS were:

Every organisation uses different job titles. This not only confuses potential employers, often deliberately, but also means that you need to provide a context for your role in the organisation. Is your job title “Brand Manager” and you report to the Marketing Manager or are you “Marketing Manager” and report directly into the CEO? How many direct reports you managed and also, if relevant, did you have dotted line responsibility to anyone? If you give the context of your previous roles in just a few clear sentences you will be well ahead of the pack and not be one of those discarded resumes that the employer doesn’t understand.

6. How long is too long?

I am sure we were all told at one stage that we should keep our resume to one page. Well if you follow my advice from point 5 you will struggle with this unless you only just graduated or have had just one job. There is no right or wrong answer here but my advice is keep to 3 pages or less – ideally 2 pages. You need to craft you resume, so remove all the extraneous information and make all your points clear and concise. If you need a hint, this is what to take out:

  • The Career Objective
  • Any “Job Description” phrases
  • A paragraph or bullet points summarising your skills; make sure you emphasise these against the roles you have had
  • Including Hobbies and Memberships; I either don’t care or worse, I might hold a grudge against one of the groups you are a member of! Don’t give me the opportunity
  • Referees: Don’t put them in the resume and you don’t need to advise me that they are available on request, of course they are! I’ll ask for them when I want them.
  • Any other extraneous information that will either make no difference to getting an interview or even worse, may give me some reason to dislike you.

Try and keep it to 2 pages if you can. This is plenty of space to give any person a very strong understanding of what you have achieved, your skills and experience.

7. Resume lacks Keywords.

We should all know by now the power of Google. This is primarily based on the web crawling of keywords and then the searching of these keywords by users who are directed to the most relevant pages.

Well guess what? That is what I do most of the day. I search our database using “Key Word Searching”. I plug in relevant phrases or words to roles I am trying to fill into our database search engine and see what pops up. I may want a Brand Manager that has a strong New Product Development focus in the Organic Food industry. So if your resume contains the words “Brand”, “NPD” or “New Product Development” and “Organic” you have got a chance of coming up in my search results.

You need to make sure that you:

  • Use the correct jargon
  • Reference the customers and suppliers
  • Use brand and category names
  • If you use phrases like “Enterprise resource planning” add the acronym in somewhere else in the resume “ERP”

If appropriate mirror the job ads that interest you. If they use phrases like “engineered solutions” and this can be demonstrated from your experience mirror the phrase in your resume.

Print off your resume and highlight the KEYWORDS with a pen. Count them up and if you get under 20 revise it and look for opportunities to add some more in. The more possibilities for hits the better. Include keywords in your cover letter as well, many companies scan these as well and include them on the database, we do.

8. Too much detail on older roles.

I do not need to know the intricate details of the time you spent working at the local supermarket through high school 20 years ago. You need to weight the detail to the most relevant and recent roles.

This will also help you keep your resume under 3 pages in length. Remember that if it is not relevant to the role you are applying for I am not going to spend much time on it. Focus on your most recent 2-3 roles and just briefly cover any older roles unless they are explicitly relevant to the one you are applying to.

Age discrimination may be an issues here as well if you detail every role in your long and illustrious career. The employer may think that you are too old for the role if they have a personal bias or that you may even be too expensive to employ because you are so experienced. This is a personal choice when putting your resume together but try a couple of different formats and see if you have more successes getting interviews with one style over another.

9. Fancy and Skewed Formatting.

Formatting is fundamental to making a resume easy to follow and comprehend.

Avoid any fancy formatting or added design templates that you think will help you stand out. It is the content that matters not any fluff surrounding it. I have seen fancy borders, graduated shading, emoticons & smilies, pictures and other graphics. (I am not joking!)

My advice is to use a standard font through the whole document and keep bolding and italics to a minimum. The more complicated the document is the more likely the electronic scanning systems will have difficulty processing them.

Also, be careful with tabs, margins and page sizes. By complicating your document you may well end up sending a resume that has bullet points that disappear, page breaks that leave blank pages, fonts that don’t show up and any number of ugly and difficult to read results.

Practise sending your formatted document to a couple of friends and get them to print it off and return it to you. Make any changes necessary to ensure the end result looks as you intended.

10. Contact Information

Make sure your contact information is up to date and correct. There are many times I have tried to contact a candidate and they have only provided a home phone number or a mobile number that has been disconnected. Of course I will make that extra effort to track down a strong candidate but if I am wavering this may be the tipping point.

This is so simple you forget to check it. You need to make sure of the following:

  • Mobile number is correct and you have an answering service so a message can be left
  • Home/Work number just in case
  • Valid Email address, and preferably not something like [email protected]
  • Residential address in case location may be an issue

I hope the above information helps you in your job search and please make any comments below and I look forward to getting your feedback.

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