My entire life I’ve always worked extremely hard, and sometimes too much. I’ve always had multiple jobs and once as much as 4 jobs at once plus full time school. I was nuts, but when I saw an opportunity, I wanted to grab it.
I would always look at a new job as more experience to put on my resume. If you name it, I’ve probably done it.
With all these jobs – I’ve been through the application and interview gauntlet SO MANY TIMES I really can’t count. But I assure you, I’ve gained the confidence to tell you I have about a 95% success rate.
My friends have seen me land job after job and eventually, I’ve been able to coach others with their resume, job search, and interview execution. I love to help others and even love more to see others succeed.
So, when I tell you I was able to snag 6 serious job interviews within a few weeks, it’s not out of the ordinary for me, but for others, it’s definitely tough.
If you’ve read my posts and the about me of why I got this blog started, you’ll know I was unexpectedly laid off after a really tough medical emergency I experienced overseas.
Then after a month of limbo, I landed 6 interviews and 5 job offers.
In Canada, you’re able to apply for Employment Income Insurance when you’re laid off – which pays you up to 55% of your salary.
Which obviously isn’t great when you have bills and rent to pay for.
Regardless, I went into panic mode and I applied about an hour after I received that phone call. There’s about a (maximum) 28-day wait to have your claim approved with payment, and that waiting time sucks because well, life still goes on.
Along with my panic into applying for EI, I immediately started looking for jobs online. There were quite a few prospects, but I knew I needed to update my resume and cover letter. So I stopped searching jobs and searched my hard drive for my resume. I found it, along with my cover letter. They were extremely outdated has it’s been about 2 years since I’ve had to use it.
Going over it, I’ve decided to start from scratch. I felt that a brand spankin’ new resume would help me feel like I’m having a fresh start with my life. It got me a bit excited, and less down since I was getting pretty depressed.
Ok, let’s get started on this resume!
Let’s first remember, resumes are pretty much an advertisement of you. You really are ‘selling’ yourself to potential employers.
Second, I’ll tell you about one of my (not-so) secret weapons, Grammarly. It’s a totally free add-on to your browser and Microsoft Office. Don’t have Microsoft Office? You can also upload text to run through on their website. What Grammarly does is saves my butt from not looking and sounding unprofessional when I need to be. I know on my blog I type the way I would talk, which is totally fine, but when I’m typing up important documents for work, my resume, or anything else, I need to make sure my spelling and grammar are on point.
Because let’s be real, I don’t think I’d be able to spell without autocorrect sometimes and let’s not even get started with my grammar.
A little red circle will pop up on the bottom right corner of your document with a number in it (how many errors you have). When you click on that, your document pops up on a different window, and will easily and clearly show you where the spelling or grammar needs to be improved.
Seriously, Grammarly is free and helps a ton.
But Anyways, I browsed through Microsoft Word for different resume templates and found an easy-to-read format that appealed to me and started to put in the basics.
My personal contact info + professional email address. (Just meaning it’s not pinkcupcake85 @ something.com )
This one is tough. It has to reflect a go-getter feel but also needs to be tailored to each company I apply to. I decided on something like:
“To apply my 5+ years of experience in office management, client relationships, and professional development. **CUSTOMIZE HERE”
I would these bold reminders for myself so I would actually remember to change it when sending a new application somewhere. (This actually goes for when I’m drafting my blog posts to remember to insert pictures or links too)
In all that job experience I’ve had the pleasure to handle the HR part of a company, so I’ve been on both sides of the game. You don’t know how many resumes and cover letters I’ve received that were tailored to entirely different companies and job titles.
So I try to avoid embarrassment and add in the reminders.
Next were my skills.
I really had to think; what skills have I developed over the years that are applicable to the types of jobs I’ll be applying to?
I knew I’d be applying to some type of administrative/management positions, so putting my bartending license on my resume wouldn’t matter too much and would probably just take up valuable space on my resume.
When I was managing a medical office, I would receive a new resume every few days. In the skills section, everyone’s just looked and sounded the same. I couldn’t tell applicants apart anymore. I took this experience and wanted to learn from everyone else’s mistakes. (sorry guys)
I thought further. What resume would catch MY eye? What would I want to see on a resume to consider?
I did some brainstorming.
How do I stand out? How do I showcase what I’m good at?
This is the most important part to remember. You have a lot of skills.
Even if your only experience was being a cashier working at McDonald’s – you have achieved amazing skills from there.
So for my resume, I’ve listed things like:
- Efficient productivity and data entry skills with the ability to type 85+ wpm
- Maximized resources for individual and teamwork, increasing efficiency by 60%
- Accomplished writer featured on The Mighty and Thought Catalog
Ok, that last one wasn’t on my resume (just yet) but you get the point. Describe yourself, but provide some backup, and make it sound amazing
In the McDonald’s example you could list something like:
- Able to work efficiently and effectively with cash under pressure of many customers
- Increased productivity to serving X-amount of customers per hour by *solving whatever the problems are at McDonald’s
Next was my education.
Honestly, this section is pretty standard, but make sure you mention those awards you got, if you were top in the class with an impressive GPA, if you were head of the Key Club, etc.
Now, most likely the biggest part, work experience.
When I was in the process of hiring a new assistant at a medical office, I would see 3 types of resume:
- Great detail, skills match what I needed, very professional. Will call for an interview.
- Kind of descriptive and fit some criteria. Going in the maybe pile.
- Not impressive, no descriptions. Immediately a no.
I saw some resumes that would just list their past jobs and position title like this:
That’s it. It was confusing. In my head, I would ask “What exactly did you do there as a cashier? How is that relevant to the position you’re applying to?” And honestly, resumes like that would most likely immediately go into the “no thanks” pile unless something else REALLY caught my eye. I was extremely busy and definitely couldn’t waste my time on a resume that wasn’t telling me anything I needed, while I had other resumes that gave me impressive detail. There’s a difference between the two.
So, don’t be #2 or #3. Aim to be #1 – (both figuratively and literally) someone that the hiring manager would want to call immediately.
The rest of my resume was following the above rule. Describe me, but provide amazing backup.
I’ve listed my work experience in bullet form (easier to scan/read), but each bullet point described my position in how it would show each of my duties at the job with great detail and how it would showcase more of my skills gained from that experience.
There was a short volunteer section.
And a “References upon request“. I do this because I change the references depending on the job I’m applying to. You might not have as many references for yourself
Awesome, so I have a completed resume. What’s next?
I need to put together a cover letter.
Cover letters are tough.
Not many people do them unfortunately because they seem tedious and long, but there’s a reason for this.
A cover letter is my chance to “talk” to the hiring manager. I can show off my skills in a more personal way, while my resume had all the straight forward facts.
I had to do more soul searching, a cover letter is the first thing about me that they’ll read. There’s a possibility that they won’t even read my resume.
So on my cover letter, I went into more detail of how many staff I’ve supervised, what kind of environment I’ve worked in, and re-iterated how I could fit the skills they are looking for in their ad. I had another **CUSTOMIZE HERE kind of thing so I could make sure I read over their requirements and tell them how I match them the best I could.
At this point, my job hunt began on my regular sites that I use. (you’ll see my list on this post 6 Reason’s indeed.com is my Favorite Job Search Tool)
I remember before applying to customize my objective, skills, and cover letter. Then apply to the places I wanted.
If I didn’t hear back after 3 days, I would call to follow up. 8 times out of 10, they would tell me they were waiting to call me to schedule an interview.
And that’s it!
You really need to figure out what you’re worth and what your best assets are, and how to show them off on paper.
The interview process is a whole different ballpark.
Do you have any other resume and cover letter tips? Let me know below in the comments!
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