We know how hard it can be applying for jobs – we have all been there! Does anyone actually enjoy it?! Whatever stage of your career you’re in, it can be overwhelming, but it is especially daunting when you’re just starting out. This three-part blog series will include tips and tricks to put your best foot forward in the job hunting journey. First, let’s talk resumes!
I’ve conducted many interviews and seen a lot of resumes over my past 10 years in PR. As head of the trainee program at FAULHABER, I review a lot of student resumes – and it’s the simplest things that always surprise me. Here are my biggest reminders when it comes to putting your resume together.
PDF PDF PDF!
Whenever we have a lot of applicants, we don’t review any Microsoft Word resumes. I’m also surprised how many Pages resumes are submitted – most companies are PC users, so we can’t even open them! A PDF is not only more professional, but it ensures that your formatting doesn’t go wonky. It also means no one can edit and re-save your resume.
I can’t believe I have to say this, but please, utilize the easy spell check button before you submit your resume! It’s such a shame when I read a resume that overall reads well, but has easy to catch mistakes. A little spelling or grammar error can make the difference in you getting the job or not! If you don’t pay attention to detail on your own resume when you’re meant to be showcasing your best work, how can we expect a weekly report we need you to do to be well done?
Always, always submit a cover letter, and always tailor it to the job you’re applying for. Many applicants do not spend enough time on this. This is your chance to tell us WHY we should hire you! Tell us why you love PR, where your personal interests lie and most importantly why you want to work for us. This tailored approach will more often than not at least get you an interview. I cringe reading generic cover letters that are addressed to the wrong company or describe a totally different industry. Those applicants will never make it to the next round, so put in the effort for a well-written, relevant cover letter.
Formatting your resume can be frustrating, but it is so worth it! With templates at our fingertips these days, we definitely expect to see a polished and well-designed resume. Absolutely take the time to find a template to use – most of them are free! A plain typed resume isn’t going to cut it. Pay close attention to ensure bullet points are aligned, fonts and sizing are consistent and the most common mistake – consistent periods after bullet points! Also, don’t limit your resume to one page! That’s an old wives tale. If you have the job history to fill two pages and your formatting still looks well-designed, go for it.
DETAILED JOB HISTORY
Probably the best feedback I can give is do NOT discount your work history, especially in the service industry! If you’re applying for a trainee position, we don’t expect you to have significant (if any) experience in the industry, but we DO look for job experience. Have you had a job longer than a few months? How many professional environments have you been in? These are things that prepare you for the working world. Customer service experience in particular – retail and hospitality – are GREAT assets to have on your resume. If you worked at McDonald’s for four years, I am automatically impressed! You’ve shown commitment to a job that is HARD, so I know you can handle an agency environment. So don’t leave off experience because you don’t think it’s valuable – IT IS!
When you’re applying for your first “career” job, you don’t need to include your highschool under your education. If you’re in a post-secondary program, we assume you have graduated highschool, so don’t waste valuable resume real estate! Also, be sure to include timelines and location for your education and job history. So often I see university or college programs without timelines listed. Was it 10 years ago? Last year? That’s such an important element to include as it instantly gives the hiring manager an idea of how many years working experience you have. Location is also important, as we see more and more international applicants, to have a better understanding of what markets you’re experienced in.
Were these tips helpful? Need more advice? Connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a DM!