Are you wondering why you may not be getting a callback when it comes to your job application? Are you looking for a few tips on how to write a killer resume and cover letter that is going to get you noticed?
This article isn’t just for those who are looking for a job. Even if you’re perfectly happy, we STILL recommend you update your resume. Why? So, if it ever comes to the point where you eventually move jobs (even if it’s in 5 years time), you aren’t going to be forgetting all the important skills you have, and the work will already be 90% done!
Both of us have a fair amount of experience in knowing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to writing your resume and cover letter. Yes, it’s a process (and a time consuming one at that), but put the effort in now, and you’ll find you’ll be getting callbacks left, right and centre. We’ve done a bit of trial and error with our templates and we know what works. At times we weren’t getting ANY callbacks on our applications. So, we tweaked our resume and cover letter… and found a few winning hacks.
Make sure you read to the end to find out what SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT we have for you guys!
We’ve been on the other side of the hiring end and have had to sift through resumes in order to find that perfect candidate. Believe us when we say, you only have about 10 seconds of our attention before we make a judgement on you. Hiring managers have sh*t loads of resumes to go through, so you want to make it easy peasy for them to want to continue reading YOUR resume. Some larger companies will use a software called the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that sifts through your resume and decides to either bin it, or pass it onto HR for human eyes to see. You can read more about that here.
Managers want to know your skills, prior work experience, and education most importantly. This is where KEYWORDS are going to be your best friend. Yes, you may have to alter each resume to match the job you are applying for, but it’s going to be worth the effort.
Make sure you’re constantly referring back to the job description and analyse the key criteria. Yes, you’ll be covering this in your cover letter anyway, but ensure you are meeting their standards in your Skills section. For example, if they are looking for a candidate with experience in a specific software; someone who can manage people; experience in accounts and dealing with stock, you might write the following:
- Proficient in Microsoft Suite (Excel, Word, Outlook, Powerpoint)
- Strong experience in accounts receivable and payable using Xero Accounting Software
- Strong team leadership skills
- Inventory management
- Excellent time management and organization skills
Your skills should read like your hiring manager is ticking off a box saying ‘qualified’ for each point.
Now, you can present this section in 2 ways. You can keep it short and sweet, or you can elaborate in this section on HOW you developed these skills. For example:
- Strong team leadership skills developed through managing 15 people and delegating tasks to meet KPI’s.
Or, you can elaborate on these in your Work Experience section. Personally? We like to go for the short and sweet as it’s easy for the hiring manager to read.
Structure Your Resume Strategically
Not sure how to structure your resume? There are plenty of differing opinions on how you should do this, and we’re not going to say which way is the ‘right’ way – there probably isn’t a right way. However, it will depend on the role, where you are at in your career, and what is important.
We are both recent graduates (1 year out of uni), so we like to put our education as the first section on our resume. But perhaps if you’ve been in the workforce for 20 years already, you may want to start with your Skills Section and then Work Experience, as this will matter more to an employer than the degree you received back when you were 21 years old.
So our resume may read a little something like this in terms of structure:
- Work Experience
Some of you may have been told in the past to put an ‘Objective’ at the beginning. These days, they’re saying not to! And we couldn’t be happier! They’re a pain in the butt to write, and they’re just an obstacle to get to the actual body of your resume (a.k.a what your hiring manager REALLY wants to know). So, feel free to skip it!
The other section you can skip now as well (UNLESS the application states otherwise), is putting down your references. You want to try and keep your resume to 2 pages, and they’re not going to call your references before calling you! If they are seriously considering you for the role, they will ask you about your references later on.
Pimp Your Resume And Cover Letter
We’ll get to the cover letter in a second, but you’ll want to add your own little touch of personal branding to your application.
Amanda: After submitting my resume a few times, I wasn’t getting any callbacks. So, I pimped it. I made this small little logo showing my initials, branded it with a navy blue colour, and put it on both my resume and cover letter, so they matched.
I also played with the layout of my resume. I compacted all my information and divided the word document into 3 columns. If you want to grab it as a template for FREE, just click the button below!
Now, I have changed it back to just a simple layout (no more columns) as it made it easier to format and some people wanted my resume as a Word doc and columns can get messed up if the hiring manager is using a different computer software (i.e Mac v.s Windows). However, as soon as I did that, I was getting more callbacks than before. You can ALSO grab this template for FREE in our library. Just click that button above!
Julia: I’ve tried a number of different layouts for resumes and have discovered what works and what doesn’t. I took initiative and called the companies I was applying for an asked if their HR department used an ATS… a handful said yes. This means my fancy resume with tables and images was automatically being chucked out because the software couldn’t read it. You need to know the industry you’re applying to… some like fancy, some don’t. So, if you want to pick up a template or two that works wonders with the ATS just click that button below.
The ATS likes boring, simple resumes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own still!
You’ll want to also pimp your resume to match the job your applying for. If you’re applying for a graphic design job, get creative! This is YOUR chance to show your graphic design skills in resume format. We know someone who applied for a job in SEO and she made her resume in the layout of a Google search page. It was EPIC! These little tricks are guaranteed to get your application remembered.
How To Write A Killer Cover Letter
Your resume and cover letter should go hand in hand, so it’s important to remain consistent across these two documents. Let’s get down to it!
Firstly, if you know the hiring manager’s name (or if you’re going through a recruitment agency and you have the name of the person assessing your application), address it to them personally (e.g Dear John,).
Tell them which job you are applying for and where you saw it advertised. Then write a little sentence about how your experience in ‘office administration’ would make you the perfect match. Literally… just write that as your opening.
Body Of The Cover Letter
Ok, start addressing the key criteria! An easy way to start is to copy and paste the selection criteria (and any other points you need to address that shows your experience will match the role) to the document you’re writing your cover letter in. It makes it so much easier to write and you can tick off the criteria as you go to ensure you’ve covered everything they’re looking for! (just make sure you delete it though once you’re done)
Tell them how you developed your skills. For example, if someone is looking for an office administrator with experience in purchase management, you might write something like this:
“A core responsibility of my previous/current role, is to manage purchasing for the projects department (or whatever department you work in). This involves raising purchase orders, managing invoices, and negotiating prices on supplies.”
Usually in the job description, they will explain your daily activities. Use the words they use in their description in your cover letter. Make it easy for them to realize you’ve done EXACTLY what the role entails. Write until you’ve covered all the selection criteria.
ALWAYS have a sign off. Tell them you’re looking forward to hearing back and chatting more about the role. If you’re available immediately to start, mention it! Especially if the add is looking for someone ASAP! You could write something like the following:
“I would love to know more about the position and am free to come in any time for a chat, and am able to start in the role immediately. I very much look forward to speaking with you soon.
Simple and straight to the point.
If you need an extra hand, we’ve got some templates you can use FOR FREE, to help you nail your next job application. These templates have helped us land phone interviews and face-to-face interviews. To grab your freebies, click that button below and get started!
If you need a hand with writing your resume and cover letter, we are excited to announce we are now offering resume and cover letter writing services to help you optimize your application and get you callbacks! This part of the job application process is the most important stage and we want to make sure you’ve got the best chance possible! Just head over to our Tribe Shop to take a look at our packages and we can’t wait to work with you!
Do you guys have any other tricks or tips you use when writing your resume and cover letter? We’d love to hear from you, so leave your comment below!
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Amanda & Julia