Judging by the type of questions I receive daily, resumes are still misunderstood with many job seekers struggling to understand what it is they’re trying to achieve.
Mostly, job seekers fail to understand a key concept. The resume is a marketing document.
It’s not a report, not a manual, not a novel. It exists for one reason and that is to give the decision maker an idea of how a business would benefit by investing in your services. As such, it needs to make for interesting reading. Writing needs to be concise, tight and examples of how you made a difference need to be explored.
Today we’re going to look this week’s email highlights.
- What are the typical practices for inserting pictures into the resumes? Isn’t it a good practice to do it?
Inserting photos is something that is seen in some parts of Asia and the sub continent and some countries in Europe. It is not a practice of the Westernised countries primarily due to the fact that people can be discriminated against based on the way they look. As it is against the law to discriminate, we do not allow recruiters to have the opportunity to do so. I wrote an article on this not too long ago. If you are interested, I invite you to read it here
- Your sample resumes don’t make mention of the age of the person. Isn’t it essential to employer?
Age, particularly in the white collar world, has nothing to do with knowledge and capabilities, it has no bearing on your ability to do your job well, and it only serves to invite discrimination if it is included in your resume. It would be a terrible world if, based solely on your age, you were ruled out for certain positions. We would see no young, exciting entrepreneurs and nobody over the age of 50 would ever be hired! It is common practice not to reveal your age, however it is obvious that if a person has worked for a certain number of years or is at a certain level of experience, then it is not too difficult for recruiters to work out a ballpark number. Giving people the ammunition to shoot your application down in flames based solely on your age, is an exercise in self sabotage! (Please note: some countries require this information and of course some occupations such as modelling and acting are typically based on age and appearance).
- Shouldn’t words like proactive, enthusiastic, passionate, diligent, professional, team player, and more be used in my resume?
Not really. The reason for this is when people say these words, they sound terribly cliché. Almost everyone in the world attests to having these attributes and consequently words and phrases like this are considered soft and meaningless. For a person fresh from high school or University, phrases attesting to soft skills could be included if there was nothing else to talk about, but for mature and senior-management candidates, they sound, well, cringeworthy. Better instead, to let your experience and examples of your expertise speak for you. For instance, if you give examples of how you solved or troubleshot problems, how you led a staff turnaround, generated increased sales, or negotiated vendor concessions, these examples indicate your level of influence and ability to solve problems more effectively than just typing in unsubstantiated clichés.
- When I send my resume to head hunters or employers, should I include some references, diplomas, and certificates?
No. You should only send what you have been asked for. If the job application says “Please send your resume and cover letter to… ” then you do just what they have asked. You do not send what you have not been asked to send or people will think you cannot follow simple instructions. Had they wanted references and certificates they would have asked. I wrote an article some months ago on this subject. please review it here
- There is no information about my nationality. Isn’t it valid ?
It is not incumbent upon you to help people discriminate. Anything that engenders prejudice (age, gender, religion, nationality, marital status, hobbies, politics, children) may eliminate you from the running before you can even prove yourself. If they want to find out these things they can ask you at interview (although, many of these areas are no-go zones there too!) It doesn’t seem fair to have your candidacy thrown out because the reader doesn’t like people from your country or persons of your religion or age, does it?
- I’ve heard people say that my resume should be targeted to a certain job, but I want it to be general so that I can be considered for a number of positions.
In today’s world, people like specialists. They like to think they are hiring an expert in their field, not a person who knows a little about a lot of different things. By allowing your resume to be vague about your interests and aims, you project a “Jack or Jill of All Trades” image, and that is decidedly unpopular with recruiters. If you have a number of interests and credentials for a number of roles, create targeted resumes for each opportunity. If you want to break out of your current job and change careers, then you may need to forget all about the classified advertisements where you will be up against numerous, better-qualified candidates with years of experience in the field and instead, look to using your network to help introduce you to companies that will be receptive to you. Recruiting agencies are not the typical place to get a job outside the lines of your existing experience.
- Is it better to include references in a CV or to write “references will be provided on request”?
Neither! Take your references with you to the interview. If they want them, they will ask for them. (This can be different with government applications. Check the requirements of the job carefully). Writing “Available on Request” is a redundant phrase. You would hardly say “References will be made available if I feel like it” or, “References: I can’t find anyone who wants to speak on my behalf”, or “References, I don’t have any”. Most people simply write Available on Request to signal the end of the resume instead of saying “The End” because they can’t think of anything else to write. You can signal the end of the resume in a lot of different ways that pack more punch. What about a line extract from one of your references, a praiseworthy email from a customer, or a performance appraisal?
So that clears questions from this week’s inbox. Are you struggling with resume issues? Drop me a line on Twitter @GayleHoward