There are so many things you hear about applying for a job: send a follow-up email! Don’t use “I” too much in your cover letter! Write a new cover letter for each job you apply to! Include hobbies on your resume! It can be hard to discern what really matters when you’re applying for a job, so we went straight to a professional for some tips.
We chatted to Gabrielle Clyburn, Senior Account Manager at Seek.com, who let us in on all the secrets about what hirers are actually looking at. Read below to find out the best advice for applying for jobs, how important your social media profiles really are to a potential employer, and preparing for digital interviews in lockdown!
Tell us a bit about your role at Seek.
I’ve been working at Seek for almost 6 years; I started my career here in the education sector at Seek Learning. In that role, I had a focus on working with candidates wanting to upskill, change careers, or study to progress in their current role. From there, I progressed into my current role, where I have worked with hundreds of recruitment agencies across Australia. I love my job! Seek’s purpose is to help people live more fulfilling and productive working lives and to help organisations succeed. Knowing that everyday this is what we are working towards is very special.
What are the most important things employers look for in applicants’ resumes and cover letters?
- We look to see that you’ve tailored your CV to the position you’re applying for. This is crucial! Look at your existing resume with fresh eyes and strip it back to the basics, including an introduction, your work experience and achievements, your education and study accomplishments, and your referees.
- We want to hear you sell yourself and your achievements! Your CV is your one big shot to sell yourself to an employer, so it’s crucial to make every word count. Now’s not the time to be humble or subtle. Highlight your skills and what you have learned that will help you succeed in the role.
- Think about the length of your resume. Depending on your relevant experience, your resume should range from two to four pages long Focus on quality, not quantity. Keep your word count tight. Less is more when it comes to providing context for the roles you’ve listed! Describing what you’ve achieved in your career in as few words as possible will make your resume stand out.
- Be professional and discreet. You may still be using the same email address that you set up when Hotmail came about in the 90s, but if it’s anything that looks unprofessional, it might be worthwhile setting up a new one for job applications.
- Keep to the employer’s submission requirements. You won’t get noticed if you don’t follow all of the specific requirements that have been instructed in the job description. Often both resumes and cover letters are requested in a certain file format. Sometimes advertisements request applications be sent or addressed in a particular way. Adhere to these and you’ll be one step ahead of any other applicants who didn’t bother to tune into this detail!
What are some common mistakes applicants should avoid making?
- Copy and pasting an objective statement from an example you found on the Internet. If you do choose to include an objective, make it your own!
- Including unnecessary personal details such as your date of birth, marital status, hobbies, or previous salaries.
- Exaggerating achievements or skills. Honesty is the best policy, and your potential employer is sure to quiz your referees to verify your experience.
- Don’t list awards you gained in high school if you’ve been in the workplace for 5+ years.
How important is an applicant’s social media to an employer?
Just over half of potential employers will look at your social media profiles, so I would say it’s quite important. Keep your private profiles private. Connect with colleagues and business associates on professional social media and keep your private profiles under wraps. Use your professional social profiles to create a positive brand image for yourself.
What’s your advice for digital interviews?
- Sort your technology. Once your video interview is scheduled, focus on preparing the technology you need to use while there’s still time to sort any issues that pop up. Find out which program you’ll be using, set up your camera and microphone, and do a trial run with a friend.
- Set up your location. Pick a quiet space where you’re unlikely to be interrupted by people or noise. Make sure there’s enough light for the interviewer to see you clearly, but try to avoid harsh shadows or sun in your eyes. Check your background to make sure there’ll be nothing distracting behind you during the interview.
- If things go wrong, don’t panic—you can get back on track. If you are interrupted by someone or something in your space, apologise, deal with the interruption quickly and quietly, and then continue the interview.
- End the interview by thanking your interviewer, and make sure you’ve closed the program before you breathe a sigh of relief! As with any interview, you can send a follow-up email later that day or the day after.
Remember: it’s totally normal to feel anxious before any job interview, and video interviewing can feel strange if you haven’t done it before. But by practicing, preparing, and getting familiar with the format, you’ll be ready to make a great impression on screen.
What’s your best advice for anyone applying for jobs?
COVID-19 has changed the way we work and the way we find work, from applying, to interviewing, to being hired: the process of getting a new job can look quite different to the way it would have before. Highlight your transferable skills. Hirers are more open to taking on candidates from other industries right now so being able to explain what transferable skills you have and why they would be relevant for the role can help you stand out. Have all of your job history up to date, highlight your achievements and responsibilities, and tailor every application to the specific job description.
Want some more tips for getting ready for a job interview? Check out this article on building an amazing digital portfolio!