Resumes that work

A study released just weeks ago sheds new light on the mission of mature Australians looking for a job, although its findings will possibly not be a major revelation to anyone who has been doing the rounds.

The report, completed by the University of South Australia, found almost one-third of Australians over the age of 45 perceived some form of age-related discrimination while looking for work over the last 12 months.

The most common form of perceived discrimination was in regards to negative assumptions about older workers’ skills, learning abilities or cognition.

Which is why, Anna Hodges of Purple Squirrel Recruitment, says these days a resume needs to take on a far more significant role in the job-seeking process.

“Among the main mistakes I see people over 50 make is including a date of birth, marital status and other very personal information, as well as listing every job they have ever held – all these are real no-nos,” Hodges says.

“Only include information that adds value to your resume, and include only the past 10 years of your work as a base-line. You want to keep your CV under four pages.”

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The way you present your information in a resume is vitally important, says Anna Hodges

But it’s the way the information in the resume is presented, Anna says, is the key. Making it easy to read, as well as follow, must become the focus.

“Don’t just write everything down in one big block,” she says. “Using simple fonts, formatting and white space is a great way to make your CV represent your brand.”

One of the most important aspects of that branding is with a strong, bold statement that sums up who you are and what you offer at this stage of your career.

“Include an Executive Summary, one paragraph which explains these three things – where you have been, where you are now and what you are looking for in the future. It gives the reader a clear idea about you in a concise way.”

Being concise in the message your resume presents is the key, says career training consultant Louise Davis.

“In your resume, there needs to be a theme throughout of what you have done and achieved, and how that makes you ideal for the new role,” Davis say.

“To tell that tale, it may be highlights of your career rather than a chronological listing of every gig you have done. It needs to tell a story that points to where you are today, and demonstrate you have kept up with technology, evolved with the times and clearly shows that you’re still relevant in your field. It needs to tell the story of you.”

Catriona Watt, director of the specialist company CV Saviour, says when creating a resume, it’s about the quality of the content, not the quantity.

“The complete resume should not be longer than three to four pages, and always remember the front page is prime real estate and the most important part,” Watt explains.

“You've got to grab their attention from the first page, so you need to get about 70 per cent of the key information about you, and how you are addressing the issue for the job you're applying for, onto that front page. Make sure it does the job for you in getting the job.”

Watt adds that an effective resume needs to be just one part of a career strategy, complementing how a candidate has positioned themselves professionally on social media.

“Your resume and social media profile should back each other up,” Watt says.

“Use social media to your advantage, and a great profile on LinkedIn adds credibility to your reputation and can offer more information about your personality, who you are and who you are connected to.

“As a combination, your resume and social media profile should work together to make the impression you want.”

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Make the impression you want: use social media to also build your profile

Keep it simple
Many recruiters now utilise data tracking systems to scan resumes, looking for specific keyboards, long before a pair of human eyeballs ever see them.

“Some application systems can’t read certain fonts, sizes, colours or documents,” explains Catriona Watt.

“The look of your document is so important because there is potentially a whole world of trouble with systems that can not read your resume because it has been so over-designed, that it ends up being discarded before any person reads it. Opt for fonts such as Arial and Helvetica, and keep it easy to read.”

Have you been job hunting recently? Share your story here.

Image credit: (feature) © The Weinstein Company, The Company Men 2010; (in-text) © Paramount Pictures, Up in the Air 2009

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