Terror, fear of the unknown, and mornings spent lounging in pyjamas staring at a closed laptop. These may be a few of your not so favourite first thoughts starting the job hunt process. In one ear there are professionals commenting on a shortage of jobs available in the market, while in the other ear a job search website can reveal over 2,000 specialised positions waiting for the right candidate to apply.
The common misconception of successful – and relatively quick – job hunting is that it takes a special type of person to put themselves out there over and over again despite little to no response.
It can defeat a job seeker’s enthusiasm before the search has even begun.
But put yourself in the employers’ shoes – if you were looking for someone to join your team, wouldn’t you advertise above and beyond to get the cream of the crop? (Hopefully you say yes!) Thankfully, it doesn’t all come down to simply experience and qualification. How you present yourself, champion your skills and strengths, and personably respond to challenges are – in some workplaces – the deciding factors.
Part of the job searching process is having the courage and determination to apply yourself for a job above your capabilities.
How can a person learn if they do not acknowledge the skills they use need constant reworking? How will a person show their future employers they are a driven individual if they do not reach out and open a line of communication?
By throwing yourself in the deep end of job descriptions and responsibilities you are opening the door to opportunity. Be dedicated to highlighting your skills, strengths, and achievements in a visually pleasing format for recruiters and employers and you are guaranteed to receive feedback.
Here are three key things I started with to overcome a morning of mourning my resume and get down to business hunting for my next job:
1. Write down achievements.
Quantifying your experience in itself is a valuable skill to have in a workplace, and one that has to start somewhere. No matter what type of job you are applying for – whether it be an internship, graduate position, or executive role – you will have an achievement to highlight. It is a section of your resume that stands out more than Objective or Qualities because achievements provide a snapshot of a specific task you needed to complete, and give the employer an idea of what qualities it takes to complete such tasks without getting too wordy. Try and make these achievements varied so they outline your key skills you want to highlight for that particular role or industry.
2. Add metrics.
Once there are between three to seven dot points enhance them by adding a measurable figure and timeline. They immediately evolve from a sentence about you at work to a business objective you have accomplished. I think back to my university lecturers saying objectives need to be SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. If you were part of a team that increased sales performance by 20% in a week or quarter – put that statistic in. If you delivered a campaign or article that boosted engagement by 40% those are numbers future employers want to see. Writing SMART achievements will set you apart from other applicants.
3. Dot point skills.
The risk with writing your resume is that it can fill up with a lot of words and not enough white space to make for an appealing read. By dot pointing skills you are clearly identifying your foundations of working knowledge. I have read a lot of “resume how to” articles lately and a common thread between them is turning away from listing soft skills such as “excellent communicator” and “emotionally intelligent”. These may be important for your role, but I agree that they belong in a small summary section of you on your resume or LinkedIn profile and not listed amongst hard skills such as “writing and editing”, “project monitoring”, and software programs you use.
If you find yourself repeating skills, and wanting to highlight specific soft skills you know will be important for your next role, create a dot point list called Strengths as part of your Summary on the front page of your resume.
Applying for jobs starts with updating and reviewing your resume. During my interviews with recruiters and HR gatekeepers I received positive feedback on these three particular aspects of my resume and it boosted me with confidence to hear the hard work I had put into my resume had payed off.
Look for examples online, read through job descriptions you want to apply for, and even search through LinkedIn for inspiration. The only relevant misconception of job hunting is that it is effortless and can be done effectively in one day.