ouldJob search tips from a recruiter’s perspective

By Jane Tweedy, Founder, How to Job Search

The reality of job search. I posted a job for a client on Indeed which went live at 9.30am. By 9.30pm it had 103 applicants! So I thought I would share some job search tips from a recruiter or employer’s perspective, utilising this one real life example.

Job search tip 1 – follow the job advert instructions

This was by far the biggest issue. Candidates were specifically instructed in two places to follow instructions. They were to supply a cover letter/email with an explanation why they were a good fit for the role and business, and confirm their availability for the role.

Very few followed instructions. Less than 15% supplied cover letters, and some that did were generic and did not answer the questions. With this many applicants, my client can stick to her guns, and we could automatically reject those that had not followed instructions – a key criteria for the role. Why bother wasting their time and ours, (not to mention clogging our emails) if you can’t follow such a simple instruction? As a job seeker for this role, if you followed instructions, you were automatically in the top 10% of applicants!

Job search tip 2 – think of the employer

Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and think what would help them to hire the right person? Is that you? If not, should you bother applying? If you believe you’re the right person then let the employer know! Communicate clearly in your cover letter and resume why you are the best choice. Give the employer confidence they won’t regret their decision if they hire you.
Employers also need to put themselves in the candidates shoes. Showing empathy is a great trait.

Job search tip 3 – take some time applying for roles

Take some time when applying for roles and tailor your application to the role and business. Too many applicants provided applications that were targeted at their desired industry, and not the role or industry they were applying for a job in. Make sure you establish base resumes for different roles and then tailor them for the job in question. If the ad has the employer’s name, then do some research on them (Google is your friend). If not, then take cues from the advert. Tailor your application to their language and requirements. If they’re upbeat you can be too, whereas if they’re conservative show that side of you. However don’t try to be something you’re not!

Combining with tip 2, the employer spends time and money hiring new people. They don’t want someone who is looking for any role that comes along, and will leave as soon as a better role appears. By using a single resume and no cover letter this can easily be the impression you give to employers.


Job search tip 4 – a few lines is not a resume

Some ‘resumes’ were literally a handful of lines on a page. This is not a resume. There is no way with 103 applicants that you could be taken seriously. It reeks of little effort. If you can’t be bothered putting in effort for an application, the employer will be concerned how you will behave once hired. 

You must be enthusiastic, and include enough about you for the employer to gauge if you’re worth interviewing and ultimately employing. If you don’t know what to do, later we will be helping you with templates and accompanying courses on how to complete. For now at least, look for a template that includes how you work (your achievements for the business), displays your key strengths including soft skills and allows you to show some personality.


Job search tip 5 – watch the formatting

Some of the resumes were poorly formatted. WRITING THE ENTIRE RESUME LIKE THIS IS SO HARD TO READ! Capitals should be used for names and proper nouns, and that is pretty much it! If you’re in Australia, we recommend referring to the Australian Government Style Manual which is now available online.
Some had blocks of personal details, in some cases relegated to the back with no name and contacts at the start. Simply open with [Your name] – Resume and on the line below Phone : [your phone] then Email: [your email]. That’s it. Your address, date of birth and everything else can go. Two exceptions may be a LinkedIn profile link or your citizenship status. If you don’t add Australian/New Zealand Citizen in that line, then include your citizenship/residency status at the end of the resume/CV in an “Other information” section.
Illegible resumes due to poor grammar and spelling was another bug bear. If this is not your strength, or English is a Second Language (ESL), then get someone else to cast their eye over the resume or CV. However don’t pretend your communication is better than it is. Saying you’ve got great communication skills in an error filled resume doesn’t work. It will make the employer question all your other statements. You could say you have great interpersonal or oral communication skills in lieu of the more generic term that includes written communication. If in doubt, leave it out.

Job search tip 6 – showcase yourself – the cull can be quick

When so many apply, you must showcase yourself, as the employer or recruiter will be ruthless in the cull. Return to work mums in particular can seriously short sell themselves. We will eventually have a template and course just for you!
Some applications literally received a 10 – 20 second glance – no cover letter, a resume that is terribly formatted or completely irrelevant to the job. Pre-formatted replies (after creating templates from issues in the first few applications), meant I could open, review and reject prospects in a minute.

Job search tip 7 – don’t include your address

With the exception of applying for a local role, leave out your address. People can and will judge you based on your location. When I worked in the Sydney CBD, some of the Northern Beaches and Eastern Suburb people thought Western Sydney was Balmain. They didn’t venture past there, and in some extreme cases looked down on people from ‘way out west’. Living in the Penrith area now, I’m pretty much an outcast to some of those people. Sad, but unfortunately can be true.
Apart from snobbery (your address is deemed too rich or poor), the bigger issue, especially somewhere like Sydney, is reliability. If you have to travel a long distance, you will be at risk of being judged as unreliable. Let you be the judge of that by removing your address from the resume. However, if you are relocating or recently relocated, explain why you’re motivated to live and work in your new location in your cover letter.

Job search tip 8 – if you get feedback take it on board

I’ve taken the time to provide personalised feedback, I hope the job seekers actually take it on board! Many job seekers complain they don’t receive feedback, but from the other side I would say many don’t deserve feedback. If they read the job ad they’d know why they were rejected. I’ve gone out of my way to give people a few tips. I bet most will take offence and do nothing with it. Without action, they will continue to be rejected.
If you’re seriously looking for work, take it seriously! Many job seekers struggle to get work, some for prolonged periods of time. This affects the morale of the job seeker and can trigger underlying depression and anxiety, or cause negative thinking to jeopardise their job search. Apply for less jobs in a more meaningful way. Less rejections can lessen your anxiety and stress levels.

What to do next? 

I suggest reviewing your own job application process, resumes and cover letters. Are there any of these tips you can take on board?


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