The quickest way to radically boost your wealth is by getting a better paid job. Problem is most people spend more time browsing on Seek than they do working out how to stand out from the pack. So, let’s take a look at the very first stage of landing that dream job — your resume — and let me share with you some tips that will get your barefoot in the door.
In the real world, where time is money, most hiring decisions are made quickly. That explains why dumb people end up in good jobs. And it’s probably the same reason the girl with the PhD asks “do you want fries with that”?
The world is not fair. Get over it. Instead of talking about how smart you are, start proving it. Here’s how:
Resumes are like junk mail. Most are designed to appeal to as many people as possible and most end up in the bin. The culling process operates much like a nightclub dance floor. You have roughly 12 seconds to make an impression or you’ll be cast aside.
Plenty of excellent, wonderful, resumes from highly skilled workers get overlooked because they read like a long-form One Direction lyric.
On the flip side, if you’ve got a good resume you stand a good chance of rising to the top of the employment food chain — sometimes over people with better skills than you.
Ten things to avoid
Here are my top 10 things you should never include on your resume.
1. Telling porkies. Motivational gurus sometimes recommend the strategy of “faking it till you make it”. Employing this tactic to get a job is likely to backfire — especially if you’re going for a gig as a doctor, pilot, or aerobics instructor.
In the book Freakonomics, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt found that 50 per cent of us lie on our resumes.
However, in this era of business back-checking, bitchy co-workers and boozy Christmas parties, your fibs are bound to come back to haunt you (if your inexperience doesn’t blow your cover first).
“I helped facilitate the 1997 Australian Open”, rather than, “I was a ball boy at the 1997 Australian Open” can also be included under this heading.
2. Irrelevant job experience. “Ball Boy 1997 Australian Open” is only relevant if all the experience you’ve amassed in the last 20 years is eating tacos and campaigning for the Greens.
For the rest of us it’s more important to cover in detail the last few positions, drawing out achievements and explaining them.
3. Your criminal record. Unless your employer specifically requires you to undergo a background check (teacher, security guard, The X Factor contestant) don’t include it on a resume. If you think it’s appropriate, bring it up as positively as you can.
For example, “I believe I’m the best person for the position because I have first-hand experience in theft-protection systems”.
4. Health status (usually excellent). The next candidate with this on their resume has to drop and give me 50 push-ups to prove it.
I’m no doctor, and to be truthful, I’m freaked out by disease. So long as none of your limbs fall off in the interview I’ll assume you’re healthy. This is a no-win proposition that invites discrimination.
5. Hobbies. Unless your hobbies directly relate to your job (“I enjoy networking in seedy inner-city bars and file random guys’ mobile numbers away on weekends”) it’s wise to leave it out. What you do after you leave the office is up to you (with the exception of staff drinks, visiting co-workers’ homes and management retreats).
6. Your age. Forty may be the next 30, but some employers may discriminate against your age. Although technically illegal, it happens. Keeping your date of birth off the resume allows you to be judged on your merits rather than the candles on your next cake.
7. Sexual preference. What you do under the covers has nothing to do with your ability to perform a chosen task. Although in the case of one Barefoot team member the innocent question of “what did you get up to on the weekend?” resulted in an uncomfortable silence that lasted till morning tea.
8. Fluff. Commonly found in long, boring paragraphs. Unless you’re applying for the United Nations special rapporteur role in North Korea, the average HR manager is going to skim. If in doubt leave it out. Remember the 12-second rule.
9. Bad grammar. OMG, it seems that many youngsters are embracing the social media method of communication and using it IRL for th3ir job applications! LOL!
So, don’t Snapchat your potential future boss and leave the ROFLs, LMAOs and YOLOs for your friends.
10. Forgetting that your real resume resides online. Slick resume? Check. Profile on Facebook showing that hilarious picture when your mates shaved your eyebrows and plastered you with whipped cream? Check. A blog post where you recount a drunken evening? Um, check.
In the digital age, no one can hide. The best way to keep your worlds from colliding too soon is to make sure your social-networking profile can be accessed only by your friends — never by the general public. While you’re sorting out your digital life, try googling yourself. What comes up?
The secret to a successful resume is to stop doing what everyone else is doing — namely firing up a template and adding your last job to the list. Instead, think of your resume as a living document.
Have a file on your work computer you can add to each time you achieve something.
It doesn’t have to be big — it could be completing a short course, or volunteering for a charity. The important thing is to make sure you get it down, rather than relying on your memory in three years’ time.
The next secret is to email that file of accomplishments to a proven, professional resume writer. After all, we’re talking about a complicated, sophisticated sales letter which, if successful, could be responsible for bringing in six-figure sums a year. Spending a couple of hundred bucks is a worthwhile investment.
Finally, remember that a resume never got anyone a job on its own. Its task is to get you to second base (the interview), which we’ll discuss soon.
Tread your own path!