How Far Back Should Your Employment History Go?

How Far Back Should You Go With Your Resume?

It’s a question I get asked all the time. Nearly everybody that comes through my Resume Writing Service asks the same thing – How many of my jobs should I list on my resume?

You can watch the video above that explains it all or read on and I’ll give you a brief run-down.

Usually 4-5 of your most recent positions BUT there are exceptions to this rule.

Rule 1 – If listing your last 5 jobs takes you back to the 70’s or 80’s – don’t do it. I’m iffy about the 90’s these days as well but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

Rule 2 – If you held a whole bunch of short-term contracts – you might want to take your job history far enough back to show a job you were stable in (provided it wasn’t in the 80’s or 70’s.

Rule 3 – If you previously worked in an industry but for the past 4-5 jobs have been doing something different then absolutely go back far enough to show your experience in the industry. (but see rule 1 first).

Let’s look at some scenarios to clarify the rules:

Example 1: Jane used to work as a Retail Assistant from 1975-1980. Since then she had been working in administration. Jane wants to return to Retail. Should Jane list her retail experience on her resume as it is relevant to the job?

No, Jane should not list her retail job from the 70’s on her resume. Because (a) it shows her age and sadly we have a HUGE problem with age discrimination and (b) being a Retail Assistant in the 70’s is NOTHING like being a Retail Assistant in 2017. No EFT, No Credit Card processing, No Automatic Cash Register etc.

Instead Jane should highlight the customer service experience she gained through her administration roles in her professional profile, achievements and role descriptions to showcase her transferable skills.

Example 2: Joe used to work as a Workplace Health and Safety Officer from 1999-2004. But since then has had (6) jobs as a Sales Rep for the next (6)  but now wants to go back to Workplace Health & Safety. Should Joe list his previous experience on the resume?

Yes, the easiest way for Joe to do this is to add in a career summary that shows his dates, company name and job title for his work history and nothing else AND then write a title ‘Workplace Health & Safety Experience’ on his resume where he elaborates on the Workplace Health & Safety Officer job in great detail. This shows he has a work history and hasn’t been lying on the beach for the last few years while also minimizing the sales experience and focusing on the Workplace Health & Safety role.

 

Interests Have To Be Interesting To List Them On Your Resume

Job Seeker Tip of the Week

If you want to list interests on your resume – make sure they are interesting or don’t waste the space.

Example:

Gardening Becomes: Member of the Toowoomba Rose Society for 15+ years, Winner of Best Champion Rose at the Toowoomba Show for (5) years in a row and volunteer with the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.
Or
Fishing Becomes: President of the Toowong Barra Club and volunteer with the ‘Restock Miller Dam’ Committee.
Or
Reading Becomes: Runner Up in the MS Read-A-Thon for reading 60 books in (1) week and raised $20,000 to build libraries in third world countries.

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Remember EVERYONE is writing Reading, Fishing and Gardening on their resume – if you want to use it at least make it something different and if you don’t have any anything related to your interest – is it really an interest anyway?

9 Things To Do To Catapult Your Career In 2017

9 Things To Do In 2017 To Catapult Your Career

New Year, New Career. I’ll keep it simple today. Here are the 9 things you must do in 2017 to get the job you want.

 

Refresh Your Resume: The job search market is only getting more competitive. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are for the job – if the employer has an issue with your resume, you will never get the chance to prove how brilliant you are. Get a friend to critically review your resume and if they think it needs work – pay to have it professionally written.

 

Use Cold Calling: The job market is full of lazy job-seekers at the moment. Everybody is content to use large search engines such as seek.com but it’s creating massive competition and screwing your chances of securing your position. Employers can be lazy as well which is why if you have mailed them your resume before they even know they have a job and you meet their requirements, they won’t bother advertising the position. I’ve lost count of the amount of times this happens.

 

Update Your Professional Development: I always recommend taking a minimum of (1) new course or workshop every year in an area related to your field. It keeps your knowledge fresh but it also shows on paper your commitment to your own learning and helps keep the resume look current and up to date.

 

Start A Career File: everyone should have a career file stored on their computer or even written in a notepad that they keep in their filing cabinet. On it you should be writing down every new software system you use, course you take, scores from customer feedback forms, copies of customer feedback, performance reports, awards, achievements, performance indicator scores etc. When it’s time to write your next resume, this information is the gold dust that sells your resume to the employer. It’s amazing how much you can forget in such a short period of time.

 

Career Coaching: It’s hard to see your own blind-spots so having someone that can point them out, give professional advice and help you to map out a step by step process to get to where you really want to be can be a god-send. Can’t spring for professional coaching? Try using one of the free career tests online. My favourite at the moment is Gopher. It will help you work out what your strengths are and compile a report of the occupations best suited to you.

 

Negotiate for A Higher Salary: This is something you want to do every year, and yet another reason to keep the career file up to date. This way you have evidence to demonstrate your worth to the employer. The best site to get assistance with the negotiation process is ‘I Will Teach You To Be Rich’ ( http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/). Ramit has some great tips and worksheets to get you through the negotiation process.

 

Use EFT to Release Old Fears: I’m a recent convert to the ‘Emotional Freedom Technique’. If you are not familiar with it, it uses a simple tapping process to release fears and to assist you basically move forward faster with your life. Check out Brad Yates on YouTube. I do his productivity videos every morning before I start work, but he has videos on every subject you could ever need.

 

Read Up: I recommend a goal of (5) career related books per year. For example, you might read a book on interview tips, one on identifying your ideal career and another on negotiation in the work-place. Bonus points if you take notes and take steps to implement what you have learnt.

 

Interview Coaching: If you find that the interview process is where your job search goes south, it’s an excellent time to get some tips from a professional. An interview coach can help you identify your key selling points and how to incorporate these into the conversation.

 

Thanks for reading. Now go catapult your career in 2017:)

Get The Job You Love Boot-Camp Challenge – A Stock Take Of Your Skills

 

Job Search Help

Job Search Help

Challenge 1 – A Stock-Take Of Your Current Skills

Hello campers and welcome to your first challenge!  Our very first challenge is a super simple one. In it we look back at our past jobs (yep, even the time you flipped burgers at McDonalds) to work out your transferrable skills. Transferrable skills are the ones you can take with you to the next job even if it’s in a totally different industry.  Let’s use McDonalds as an example:

Ok, so let’s say your first job out of school was at McDonalds. You served customers, processed payments, made burgers and that was about all. Now let’s say you are looking at a job as a Bank Teller next. Some of the skills you learnt at McDonalds that transfer across might include: cash handling, customer service, conflict resolution etc.

Ok, now you know what you are looking for create a spreadsheet on excel or draw two columns on a piece of paper and list every job you have ever held in the first column. In the second column, write down all the skills you learnt doing that job that would transfer across to the next one.

To Recap:

Your challenge is to identify your key skills based on previous employment history

Step One: Create two columns on a spreadsheet or piece of paper

Step Two: List every job you have ever done

Step Three: List the skills you learnt at each job

Step Four: You should probably create a sub folder on your computer or get a vanilla folder if you are doing the activities manually to keep all your challenges in – because you are going to need this information for some of our resume modules later on.

Remember we offer a resume service that runs Australia wide – we service areas including but not limited to Agnes Banks, Albury, Sydney, Ballina, Batemans Bay, Boggabilla, Wagga Wagga, Brinswick Heads, Cobar, Deniliquin, Evans Head, Forster, Gladstone, Glen Innes, Kyogle, Hobart, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth and many more.

For our current price list visit: http://nicolejessicacoggan.com/resumeservice

What Employers Want On A Resume

What Employers Want On A Resume

In order to bring you the most up to date an relevant information on what employers want with a resume and the entire recruitment process, I conducted a 2014 survey which gathered the responses of managers, recruiters and employers. In it I asked a series of questions designed to work out what exactly it is the employers look for on a resume and in the recruitment process. Curious? Here are the results:

Q. What is the number one item you look at on an applicant’s resume?

A. 62.5% of employers stated they look at the skill set at the number one item on an applicant’s resume (so make sure this is on the first page for easy access). This was followed by an applicant’s work history (37.5%) with Education, Achievements, References and Career Objective all coming in at 12.5%.

Q. How many paragraphs do you prefer in a cover letter?

A. 50% of the employers surveyed said they prefer three paragraphs for a cover letter, 37.5% said they prefer two and 12.5% said they prefer four paragraphs for a cover letter

Q. What does an applicant need on the first page of their resume to make you read the second?

A. Responses included:

“Relevant work history”

“Something that says they have actually read the job description and understand the position”

“A summary of their skills and achievements. This should be bullet points or a short paragraph”

“Skills relevant to the job”

“Why they meet the job description and why they want this particular job”

“Experience & Skills with reference to the position they are applying for”

“Show a tailored approach to the application, not a ‘one size fits all’ resume that they have used for multiple applications”.

Q. What’s the number one thing that makes you put a resume in the trash?

A. Some of the responses included:

“Trying too hard to sell themselves”

“Cookie cutter responses”

“I hate objectives, they just tell me what the applicant wants, not what they can do for me”

“A resume that is not tailored to the job”

“A copy and pasted resume”

“Spelling errors”

“Cover letters that address me as Dear Sir, I’m a women”.

Q. What’s the number one thing that makes you want to hire an applicant?

A. Responses included:

“A genuine approach”

“Show that they know about my business and my company and either show or explain how they can help my business succeed”

“Have an energy which matches what I’m looking for (it’s very easy to tell – even with professionally written resumes)”

“Show attention to detail and show they have researched the company, a few well placed questions to ensure the role is a good fit for both employer and employee is also beneficial”

Well, there you have it. From the employers own mouths – exactly what they look at on an application and resume. These employers have donated their time to complete the survey in order to help you create a winning resume and application so have a read over the tips and advice they have given and have a think about how you can apply this to your own application.

A Quick Resume ‘Don’t’ List

Resume Don’t List

Avoid the personal references. The only exception to this is if you have just finished high school and don’t have anyone else you can use. If you don’t fit this category and need to use personal references don’t list them on your resume. Use ‘references available on request only’ and then once you wow them at the interview you can explain why you only have personal references available. When I see personal references on a resume the first thing I think is ‘Why don’t you have a professional reference? Is there something wrong with the way you work”?

You don’t need to put the word ‘resume’ on your resume. The employer knows what the document is. Your name is fine. (Also you don’t need to use your middle name).

Don’t add a date to your resume. It’s totally unnecessary.

Avoid adding personal details like ‘married’ or ‘divorced’ on your resume. There is enough discrimination in the hiring process already without you giving them another reason. You may think that saying ‘married’ makes you sound mature or settled but the employer might be thinking it means you have commitments and won’t be able to travel.  You don’t know their situation or thought process so ditch it.

Avoid putting your date of birth or age on the resume and keep an eye out for statements such as 30+ years’ experience.  Why it can work in your favour to show how much experience you have try not to go any higher than 10+ years or you risk getting discriminated against for your age. This is illegal but happens all the time. The only exception to this is if you are eligible for junior rates. In this case put your DOB on. It explains your lack of experience and lets the employer know you fit their financial criteria.

Avoiding personal details also covers religion and nationality. Avoid these ones like the plague.

Don’t be modest. Often I see people avoid putting any emphasis on their achievements in the resume because they are worried they will look conceited or the employer’s expectations will be too high. On average you are looking at 150+ competitors so if you have done it, now is not the time to be shy.

Don’t lie. On the odd occasion I have worked with clients that have requested I ‘make up something to make them look good’. I don’t do this for a number of reasons but the number one reason is that you will get caught out. All it takes is one reference check and you are screwed so don’t do it.

That said, not putting on things you don’t want the employer to know is fine. For example if you got fired from your last position you don’t have to say that on your resume. Wait until they ask and then explain the situation.

Avoid making it too long. I once saw a 15 page resume for a retail assistant. Nobody is going to have the time to read it. In most industries 2-3 pages is fine. Seriously even the president of the USA should not have more than a 5 page resume. If he can’t get the fact that he ran an entire country across in 5 pages or less he is doing something wrong.

You don’t need to list all the jobs you have ever had.  Three is a nice number although four is great if the job is relevant. The employer doesn’t need to know that you worked as a Crew Member at McDonalds 30 years ago. If it’s no longer relevant, ditch it.

A Quick Resume ‘Do’ List

Resume Do List

  • Target your resume to what the employer wants/needs not what you want. Think of your resume as your sales page. It shouldn’t be about what you want. Ditch the career objective and focus instead on a career statement highlighting your experience so the employer wants to hire you
  • Do use examples to illustrate your achievements where possible. For example instead of writing ‘responsible for driving $150,000 worth of new sales into the business’ show how you did it by writing ‘responsible for  driving $150,000 worth of sales into the business through the implementation of a Facebook marketing campaign directed at our target demographic’.
  • Make sure you use facts and figures wherever possible. Instead of writing ‘saved the company lots of money’ get specific and write ‘saved the company $550,000 in six months through implementing a new three quote rule for procurement’.
  • If you run out of space on your resume ditch the hobbies and interests rather than shorten your employment history. As a general rule unless your hobbies are also achievements they don’t need to be on there.
  • Make sure you use a nice format to get attention. It doesn’t need to be anything special, just neat and presentable. When in doubt remember that content is king and the information you include in your resume is worth more than the design
  • Leave plenty of white space on your resume so it’s easy for the employer to read
  • Do include any volunteer work or work within the community you have done.
  • Do double check your resume for errors or typos.
  • Do send your resume in PDF format whenever possible. If you send a Word version and the employer looks at it on their phone, it can screw with the formatting.

 

 

Five Things You Can Do Today To Get A New Job

Top Five Things You Can Do Today To Find  A New Job

 

If you are looking for a new job but are only applying to advertisements you see on SEEK or in the paper you are not exploring your job search potential. Yes, applying for advertisements is great because you know the employer has a job available but on the flip side this means you have a massive amount of competition for the role. (If you have missed some of my other posts, recently the shop down the road advertised for a retail assistant and ended up with 170+ applications to wade through). That’s an awful lot of competition.

 

So what are five things you can do today to find a new job?

 

  1. Reach Out – Known formally as networking, this can be as simple as telling everyone you come in contact that you are looking for work. If you want to get advanced attend some professional development sessions or networking events, but you don’t have to go this hi-tech. Finding work that hasn’t yet been advertised can be as simple as letting updating your facebook status or telling your day care provider what you are looking for. Everyone is related to somebody else and with experts telling us we are only separated from another person by six people, your new job could be just around the corner.

 

  1. Yellow Pages – Grab your copy of the phone directory, highlight a list of places you would like to work and give them a call to see if they have anything coming up. If possible always request to speak to the Manager. Getting on the phone can be nerve wrecking but you would be surprised the amount of potential opportunities it opens. The best case scenario is that they ask to interview you straight away and you get the job, worst case, they ask you to email in your resume for their records.

 

  1. Set a Target – I’m always surprised by how nobody does this. The single most powerful thing you can do right now to jump start your job search is to set a target of how many jobs you are going to apply for on a weekly basis and stick to it. Make it non-negotiable. This means that if you set your target at 20 and you can’t find 20 advertisements to apply for you have to get out of your comfort zone and start calling or writing to potential employers.

 

  1. Pick up the Pen – I have seen amazing success with this one time and time again and it is actually my number one tip. Write a cover letter, print off your resume and send a personal note to the manager of the organisation you want to work for expressing your interest in any suitable positions. I don’t know if it’s because people don’t get snail mail anymore so it’s a novelty or not but I have seen people line up four interviews in one week through this approach. (Also this eliminates any of the competition you would usually get from an advertised position)

 

  1. Revamp your resume to include achievements. I’ve said this before a hundred times but I still see hundreds of resumes that don’t do this. I have a simple questionnaire you can use to help pin point your achievements that you can download and use for free below.

Twenty Questions You Should Answer Right Now So You Can Add Achievements To Your Resume

Twenty Questions To Pinpoint Achievements For Your Resume

By now you would need to be living in a cave to be unaware that in order to make your resume really shine you need to add in some of your achievements. This is relatively easy to do if you work in a field like sales where you have targets you can add in but can be tricky when it comes to a more generalised field such as administration. In order to help you out with this I’ve compiled a quick list of things for you to think about when it comes to writing out your resume achievements. Example answers:

Responsible for resolving a key client supply issue that saved the company from losing a contract worth $50,000.

Delivered a presentation to 50+ new clients on our service delivery expected outcomes resulting in positive feedback from both our clients and management

Responsible for payroll and superannuation services for 150+ staff according to a strict one week deadline

  • Have you ever resolved a problem or issue at work? What was it? What was the result?
  • Have you ever trained other staff members either formally or informally? How many? What was the response?
  • What special projects have you been involved in? What was your contribution?
  • Have you ever implemented a new system or idea that was well received by staff or management?
  • Have you ever presented in public? In front of how many people?
  • Do you manage people in your current position? What is your leadership style? How many people do you manage?
  • Have you ever resolved a dispute that led to positive outcomes?
  • Are you a member of any committees or volunteer groups such as the OH&S committee or the social club committee?
  • Do you chair meetings or act as treasurer during meetings in your current role?
  • Have you brought in new clients or been part of an advertising or marketing campaign?
  • Do you work with cash? How much cash do you handle on a daily basis?
  • Are you responsible for the business newsletter or any extra duties not listed as part of your job description
  • Have you written any procedures, policies or manuals for your position?
  • Do you have sales targets you need to meet? What are they and by how much do you exceed these?
  • Do you have customer service feedback forms? What has your result been?
  • Have you completed any professional development or training not already listed on your resume?
  • Do you have other key performance targets you need to meet? What are they? At what percentage rate do you achieve them?
  • Have you ever been featured in the staff newsletter, professional publications or received other positive media attention
  • Have you ever had an article published?
  • Do you have any tickets or licenses not listed already on your resume?

If you would like more questions to jump start your thinking, I have a free questionnaire with spaces for you to write your answers and lots more questions available for free download here:

10 Easy Steps To Jazz Up Your Resume

10 Easy Tips to Jazz up Your Job Application

Hey there!

Todays post is going to be all about how to jazz up your existing resume to get your foot in the door at your dream job. There are hundreds of ways for you to do this, but I’m assuming you want something quick and easy that won’t take a lot of time. Here are my top 10 favourite ways to make a big impact without devoting a week to the process:)

 

Target your resume! It should be tailor-made for the job you are applying for. If you only follow one tip from this list, choose this one. Check out the following case study. “Natalie had spent most of her career working in Child Protection as a Case Worker but had also worked for a number of temp agencies, doing casual hospitality and admin work when she wanted to earn some extra cash. Four months into her pregnancy, her husband received a transfer and they relocated. Natalie still wanted to work but didn’t want a full time position. She was looking for a casual job, with no stress, in hospitality, retail or customer service – a position where she could just do her work and go home. She sent out a very professional resume, which highlighted all her career achievements and professional history, to a number of employers. She was judged as ‘overqualified’ or received no response at all. She decided to change her resume. She took out all her achievements, changed the format to simple black and white and listed her temp jobs first. At the end of her resume, she listed her employment history with dates and titles – but no descriptions. It worked. She was offered a casual job in a call centre within the week.”

 

Write a ‘Professional Profile’ section in your resume. Place it immediately after your personal details as a quick snapshot of your professional skills. Use it instead of ‘Objective’ in order to focus on what you will contribute, rather than what you want from the company.

For example: “Experienced call centre operative with excellent communication skills and a passion for customer service; computer literate with the ability to operate multiple switchboards and internal programs; regularly praised by management for exceeding call handling and customer service targets”.

 

Use the correct layout on your resume. For example, if you are a recent graduate with no relevant work history, list your education and qualifications first. If you have broad work experience but lack the educational qualifications for the position you are applying for, list your professional history before your educational details.

 

Remove any character references. If have a professional history, a list of only character references will make the employer wonder why your previous employers aren’t willing to speak for you. If you don’t have professional references to list, simply write ‘References available on request’. If you are impressive in the interview, then you can explain why you have only character references. The only exception to this is if you are still in or have just left high school.

 

Use bullet points. When you are writing job descriptions, avoid lengthy paragraphs. Make your resume as easy to read as possible. Employers with more than 200 applications to wade through love anything easy to read.

 

Change the format on your resume. Using MS Word, go to Home, then Styles, from where you can browse and preview Headings and Subtitles until you find a style you are happy with. Choose from formal, modern, fancy and more. Hint: for resumes, less is more.

 

Add matching borders to your resume, cover letter and selection criteria to create a uniform appearance. You can do it easily: in MS Word go to Page Layout, then Page Borders.    Suggestion: ‘Box’ borders with a 3pt solid line in black.

 

Use 11 or 12-point size font for your resume and cover letter content. The only exception to this is if the employer is asking you to address 8 selection criteria points in a one-page cover letter. In that case, you can use 10 point to fit more in but never use anything smaller.

 

Avoid fancy fonts. You have probably heard this one many times but standard fonts like New Times Roman are fine. Sometimes people are tempted to jazz up their resumes by using decorative fonts. Don’t do it. It affects readability and doesn’t look professional.

 

Use italics and underline sparingly. Both affect readability so use them only on titles or important pieces of information. When in doubt, bold is better.

 

Have you used these tips before? Which of these tips will you be implementing? Let me know in the comments section