AUSTRALIAN JOB MARKET IS YOUR RESUME PREVENTING YOU FROM GETTING A NEW JOB?

It seems that when people apply for jobs and don't receive job interview requests, they are quick to blame anyone or anything. I've heard job seekers tell me countless times that they applied for over 100 jobs online without receiving one single interview request. They tell me it's because of the current state of the economy or because the demand for jobs is far greater than the supply. While both of these reasons are true to an extent, companies are still interviewing and hiring. If you're someone who has applied to a large number of jobs but you haven't received a single interview request, it's probably time to start asking yourself those tough questions.

Are you qualified enough?

Are your job expectations realistic that you can actually get the jobs you are applying for? Too many times people waste their own time applying for jobs that they are not suitable for. I recently worked with a young professional with 2 years of work experience and no managerial experience. In terms of salary he was earning the market value for a person with his skills and experience. For an entire month he applied for different managerial roles - all paying salaries of double what he was currently earning - and he couldn't understand why he wasn't able to land an interview. While it is important to aim high, it is equally as important to be realistic about your skills and experience.

If you're qualified for the job, is your resume letting you down?

You may have fantastic skills, experience and achievements. You may even be the best person for the job. If this is the case, why are you not getting interview requests?

When a hiring manager first picks up your resume, what they see and what they read will be the first impression they have about you. I recently worked with a candidate who just finished law school and was running into a similar problem. He was at the top of his class and as a recent graduate, he was now looking at beginning his career in one of the top law firms. Every job this candidate applied for was right for him. A recent law graduate seeking the best and brightest. The candidate sent his resume out to every law firm in the city and didn't receive one interview request. Even the smaller firms were not even giving him a chance.

Here's what I saw when I took a brief look at his resume. The candidate had put his education and university roles on page 3 of the resume and had devoted the first 2 pages of the resume to the part-time jobs he had during high school and university. As such, by the time the hiring manager had read through page one of his high school work experience, the resume was being deleted before the most important part of the resume (his education) was even read. In today's society, reports suggest that a job candidate has 15-20 seconds to catch the reader's attention. By putting the most important information on the back page of the resume, the reader's attention was focused on aspects of the resume that were completely irrelevant for the candidate in getting the job.

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JOB INTERVIEWING QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK IN THE JOB INTERVIEW

As a job candidate what is the best question to ask in an interview? At some point in the interview (typically at the end) the hiring manager will turn to you and ask "Do you have any questions which you would like to ask me?"

There are two main benefits in asking the right questions. Firstly don't forget the number one rule from chapter one. The interview is a two way process and you need to ensure that this organization is the right fit for you. If you are uncertain about certain aspects of the role or need greater clarification, than this is the time to ask those questions. Don't be shy or intimidated. Secondly by asking clever questions will not just help you in deciding if this job is right for you but will impress the interviewer and leave a positive image as someone who comprehensive and professional.

What you need to do

• Prioritize your questions based on the interview situation - Is this the first interview or the second interview?

• The best questions you can ask are open ended questions

• Have 3-5 questions prepared (The more the better)

• Only ask questions that you are interested in knowing the answer!

• Only ask questions that are relevant to the job, department, management and organization

Sample 15 Job Interview Questions to ask

• How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured?

• Do you provide any sort of professional development or training?

• How do you measure performance and how often is it reviewed?

• Who was in this job before and why did they leave?

• Is this a new position? How long has this position existed?

• Could you explain your organizational structure?

• How many people work in this office/department?

• How much travel is expected?

• What's the makeup of the team as far as experience?

• With whom will I be working most closely?

• Why do you enjoy working for this company?

• How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured?

• Can you describe the company's management style?

• What would be the goals of the department in the coming year?

• What are the traits and skills of people who are the most successful within the organization?

Types of Job Interview Questions NOT to ask

• Salary and benefits

• Questions that are clearly stated on the website

• Generic / Obvious questions

• Questions that the interviewer is unable to answer. Do not try to "outsmart the interviewer" Asking questions that appear to be challenging the interviewer or a question that the interviewer is unlikely to know will only create a negative vibe between you and the interviewer. Remember you are trying to build rapport with the interviewer not challenge the interviewer.

• Questions that are irrelevant to the job or organization

Sample 15 Job Interview Questions NOT to ask

• How many sick days and holiday days do I get?

• Do I still get paid for a sick day?

• If I start next week how long until I will get a pay rise?

• How long is the lunch break?

• What is it that your company does?

• Are the working hours flexible?

• Am I able to have my own office?

• Who are the "coolest" people on my team?

• How many warnings do you get before you are fired?

• Are there many coffee shops close by?

• How financially sound is this company?

• What are your strengths and weaknesses?

• Will I be given an employee handbook?

• What is the company policy on internet use?

• Can I use Facebook?

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CAREER MANAGEMENT BEFORE YOU ASK FOR A RAISE

Before you ask for a raise, the most important thing you need to remember is that you need a reason for asking for one. An employer is not just going to hand out extra money to you because they like you - you need to give them a compelling reason to do so.

Basically, you need to give them something that exemplifies your hard work and that shows you are a positive asset to the company. Think of a few ways for doing so - below are just a few examples:

Arriving on time on a consistent basis

No employer likes workers who show up late - ever. If you consistently come to work early or on time, your boss will definitely take notice of this and will appreciate your punctuality. You've already given yourself a head start.

Taking on an extra work load

Volunteering to do more than what is expected of you helps to build your reputation within the company. You will be recognized as a leader, as someone willing to help out and as someone who can be counted on. You may also gain some valuable experience within other departments, and extra knowledge never hurts. Employers love this type of employee, and will be more likely to go the extra mile to keep them on board.

Keeping track of your performance

There is nothing better than being able to show concrete examples of how you have benefited the company. Have sales dramatically increased since you came on board? Do you consistently meet or exceed your targets?

Of course, some people argue that taking on an extra work load or working overtime is a negative because you allow the company to take advantage of you. Well, like it or not, this is how the world works. If you want to stay in the same position year after year, do the minimum, but if you want to move up, putting in that extra effort will be required of you. Raises are not free handouts for everyone - they are reserved for the ones who put in the extra effort.

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STUDENTS AND GRADS WAYS TO BOOST YOUR RESUME WHILE YOU'RE STILL IN COLLEGE

The job market is tough out there, especially for graduates who are competing against thousands of others for the same jobs. The way you construct your resume and cover letter will definitely give you a leg up on the competition, but there are also other ways to improve the content that you include on your resume.

One problem that graduates are typically faced with is the fact that they have little to no work experience. Employers obviously understand this, so they won't hold this against you, but they also understand that opportunities to gain real-world experiences are available to students all the time. The students who take advantage of these opportunities are usually the ones who will stand out to hiring managers.

Students have access to a variety of resources. They can apply for a number of internships or volunteer positions, most of which are unpaid, and these types of positions are usually easy to find within your school. Internships are designed to not interfere with your school work; they typically occupy only a few hours a week and they do not impact your ability to study or complete your course work. While working for free may not be at the top of your list, you need to realize that it will give you an advantage over your competition and it's in your best interest to jump at the opportunity.

Just think about it from a hiring manager's point of view. He or she is deciding between 2 candidates for a position. Both received excellent marks in school and both have beautifully written resumes and cover letters. One, however, used one of his summers to intern for 12 weeks. Looking at these applications strictly from a qualifications point of view, which one do you think has a slight edge over the other?

Sure there are tons of factors that can influence one candidate's qualifications over another, but your best chance is to always stay ahead of the competition. Experience is never frowned upon.

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RESUME WRITING TOP 5 COVER LETTER MISTAKES

If you're going to take the extra time to write a cover letter that you include along with your resume, you might as well write it properly! We talked to a few recruiters and found out that they frequently find mistakes so annoying that cause them to immediately discard some applications all together. Here's a sample of some of the mistakes they mentioned:

Letter addressed to the wrong person or company: It doesn't annoy hiring managers that you're probably applying for other jobs, but it does annoy them when you don't take the time to check that your cover letter is addressed properly. Sending it to the wrong person or company will get your application deleted immediately.

Spelling and/or grammar mistakes: You're probably tired of being told to check and re-check your work, but it is extremely important! When spelling or grammar errors show up on your cover letter, the person reading it is going to think that you either don't know how to write properly or that you didn't bother to check it over. Either way, it's bad news for you.

It's too long: Cover letters should be short and to the point. They should provide some basic information about how you are specifically qualified for the job in question. That's pretty much it. Anything longer than a few paragraphs starts to look more like an essay, and it's an immediate turn-off.

No contact details: It happens quite frequently - people forget to include their name, let alone a way to contact them. While your details may be on your resume, no one wants to take extra time to fish for information that should have been provided for them right away.

No cover letter: This is the worst mistake of all. You're competing against dozens of other applicants who have instantly shown that they took more time to apply than you.

At the end of the day, you just want to give yourself the best chance possible to be called for an interview. Think about what a potential employer wants to know most about you, and try to convert this into a cover letter.

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Should I have an objective statement on my resume? Are there other ways to make my resume stand out from the crowd?

Replacing the Objective Statement with a Qualifications Profile on your resume

Does your current resume begin with a generic objective statement telling the reader what type of jobs you are looking for? Let me guess that it reads something similar to this:

"I am seeking the opportunity to expand my skills, knowledge and experience in a challenging professional environment. I am honest, reliable, eager to learn and open to tackling a range of tasks. I am a strong and empathetic team player and always complete tasks to a high degree of quality and to deadlines"

If this is how your resume begins, it's time to make changes. In the competitive job environment where hiring managers may receive upwards of 500 applications for a single position, an objective statement is more likely going to lead to your resume being deleted. From a hiring manager's perspective, they are not interested in a non-specific, all-purpose statement that adds no value to the resume and provides them with no reason to want to hire you. You may have the best skills and be the perfect fit for the job however, you may never get this opportunity because your resume has already been deleted.

What is a Qualifications Profile?

A great way to introduce yourself on your resume is by creating a qualifications summary or career summary. Rather than telling the reader you are seeking an opportunity to expand your skills, rather promote what skills you actually can bring to this specific role. A targeted resume including a targeted profile will encourage the reader to continue reading the resume as opposed to pressing the delete button. For example, if you are applying for an IT job that requires programming skills, list you're programming skills within your introductory profile. That way, the reader will straight away be interested to read on as they know that you have skills that are required for this position.

How long should my Qualifications Profile be?

The last thing you want to do is turn your qualifications profile into an essay! Statistically, a hiring manager will only spend between 15 to 20 seconds when initially reading your resume. If they open your resume and see a half page profile they are more likely to be turned off as they won't be bothered to read all this information. A well written profile should be no longer than 2-4 sentences. It needs to be targeted and present value.

Final thought:

When you begin to write your new resume, don't forget the number one rule. Your resume is a marketing document. The more you can showcase your skills and achievements the greater chance you will have of being selected for the interview stage.

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New articles
How to stand out during the job interview

Making the right impression in your job interview is one of the most important steps in your future career. Many people don't know this, but job interviews require careful planning and research, otherwise you will significantly reduce the chance of getting the job. In the current economic climate it is very hard to land yourself a job, thus planning your interview before is the key to success

The first (and often the most important) thing to prepare for is your attire. Don't wait until the last minute to find something to wear – you should prepare for it days in advance and get it properly cleaned and ironed. Remember that you should always dress to fit the context of a job. If you're applying for a casual gardening company, a suit might not be ideal, but if you're applying for a position as an accountant or a banker, then a full suit would be the required minimum. Despite what people say, first impressions are everything.

Conducting research about the job and company you're applying for is imperative. Consider doing a web search and learn as many facts about the company as you can. You can subtlety include these facts during the interview (when appropriate) to show the interviewer that you have done your homework on the company. Don't overdo it though – you don't want to sound like you're repeating their whole website!

Non-verbal messages are often more important than words, so make sure that you greet your interviewer with a firm handshake. Maintaining correct posture and eye contact are also two very important non-verbal messages as they make you appear more confident and presentable. These are two big qualities that hiring managers will be looking for.

You should also be able to recite your resume off by heart. As a general rule, you should not need to consult your resume. The interviewer will already have a copy of your resume, and they will ask you questions about it, so don't try to make up an answer as there is a big chance that you will get it wrong. Highlight your achievements and the value added skills you can bring to the job and back up your statements with examples.

As preparation is the key to a successful job interview, consider doing a short role-play with a friend or family member. Ask them to question you on your resume and the job to fully prepare you for the interview. The more you are prepared the greater your chances of success. Following the interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time and ask when they expect to make a final decision and don't feel discouraged to follow up with them if you haven't heard back within a few days.

Good luck!

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Making the transition from graduate to job seeker

There is a certain amount of relief when a student finally graduates from college; the years of hard work through all levels of school have finally paid off and they now stand, degree in hand, with their future laid out before them. That relief tends to be short lived when the reality strikes home that student loans now have to be paid and it's time to get a real job! Trying to land that first big job is always a daunting task, but perhaps even more so, at the moment given the tight job market. Companies are now offering fewer graduate positions and with literally hundreds of candidates applying for the same role, the interview process is even more important. With that in mind, here are some tips that can help you when making the transition from school to work.

Research and prepare:

If you have graduated from college with great grades, then that means that you have spent a great deal of time studying, which is a trait that you should carry over to your interview process. Take time to do homework on the company you are interviewing with and find a way to naturally weave that knowledge into your answers. Your pre-planning shouldn't only be limited to the actual interview, but also how to get there. Showing up late will put an immediate strike against your name and potentially eliminate you from the interview process. Plan the route you need to take to get to the location and don't be shy in giving yourself an extra 10 minutes to get there.

Practice makes perfect:

Job Interviewing can be a daunting experience which is why it's a good idea to do a few mock interviews before the big day arrives. You can ask a friend or family member to conduct the “interview”, but make sure that it is someone who is subjective and who isn't afraid to tell you that your answers were not that strong. A great tip is to write down 10 examples of achievements or skills that you would like to portray to the interviewer and integrating these examples into your answers. The worst mistake is going to the interview without preparation and stuttering your way through the interview.

Creating a professional image:

Most people are aware that they have to dress the part when going for an interview, but that extends beyond the clothing. Make sure that your hair is neat and tidy, and that you are well groomed; having a hairstyle that looks like you just stepped out of bed will quickly negate the fantastic suit you are wearing. As a recent graduate, portraying a professional image is vital to your success. Remember that a hiring manager will make an immediate impression about you the second you walk in the door. A positive first impression is vital to your success.

Being prepared, arriving on time, and looking the part is only a small part of the process. You have a limited amount of time to impress the interviewer, so use that to sell yourself as best as you can, without coming across as arrogant or pushy. Confidence is as important as your education, and it may just end up being the deciding factor between you and another candidate.

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