Archive for February, 2009

Should You Include Personal Interests In Your Resume?

An article with IXL provides feedback from some of Australia’s top career professionals, and demonstrates that, as with many areas of compiling a résumé, the final result can still be influenced by personal preference.

Quote from executive search firm, Russell Reynolds:

“Be careful of what is put there as it is just as easy to give the wrong impression as to have something that stands out from the crowd. Including a single-figure golf handicap on a CV could show you’re too focused on yourself, whereas participation in endurance sports sends a message about the commitment an individual is capable of.”

Quote from specialist recruitment firm, Ambition:

“Letting recruiters know about general interests is important for finding the right cultural match. CFOs are usually trying to sell themselves just on their track records. I’d also like to know about extra interest because this builds a picture and shows they’re aiming for a work-life balance. Yet I see a ‘major interest’ in only about one out of 10 résumés at the top level.”

Recruitment consultancy, Carmichael Fisher:

“Including hobbies or interests is a conversation-opener for a job interview at any level of seniority. There are no hard and fast rules on what should be included, or what it might imply about a job candidate.”

The representative from Carmichael Fisher points out that examples such as “playing for the Wallabies” suggests a leader with drive but nevertheless a team person, “a golf handicap of two, or a black belt in karate, suggests more of an individual-type person”, “theatre, opera and reading as interests implies a more analytical and contemplative type of person”.

When compiling a résumé, and even in the cover letter, I look carefully at the individual and the industry / role they are targeting. While the representative from Russell Reynolds views reference to golf handicaps as a possible sign of introspection, it can be a key point in compiling a sales résumé where subjects such as golf are frequent ice breakers, and golfing events are used as sales and marketing tools.

Certainly interests such as marathon running show endurance, commitment, motivation and forward planning and are an asset in any position. If you are targeting a steady, at home position, a passion for overseas travel – whether you indulge or not – could be seen as lacking focus and stability, whereas if you are targeting a position with a global organisation where you need to be comfortable relating to many different individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds, international traveller would be seen as a boon.

Here’s to writing powerful resumes

Beverley Neil

February 22, 2009 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

Side-Effects of Unemployment Uncertainty

As uncertainty over unemployment rises it is natural that some people will start to experience increased anxiety and levels of stress. With stress can come shorter fuses and the risk of arguments.

Mark Branbenburg, personal coach committed to helping fathers succeed (though we mums – in fact anyone – can benefit from this kind of support too) offers this great advice on avoiding arguments and keeping your home your haven:

 How to Avoid Arguments

1. Be concerned with being kind more than being right.
If you’re kind to your spouse and treat them well, you’ll experience fewer arguments.

2. Develop the fine art of keeping your mouth closed.
There will be many occasions when you’ll want to respond to a comment your spouse has made, and an argument is waiting to happen. Take a hard swallow, and notice that no argument occurs.

3. Talk with your spouse about making the effort to avoid arguments.
Have a specific plan in place you both agree on when things gets tense. If you know you’re both committed to improving, it’s easier to stay committed.

4. Raise your own standards.
What kind of person do you really want to be? In view of how useless arguing is, wouldn’t you rather hold yourself to a high standard, and spend time doing something else?

5. Just walk away from the argument.
Walking away allows you some time to gather your thoughts and to cool down. When your perspective is better, you can continue the discussion from a more objective place.

6. Date your spouse regularly.
A lot of arguments result from things that haven’t been fully explored. It’s crucial to have a way to stay up to date, and create rituals that have the two of you talking. Make the time sacred.

7. Bend the truth now and again.
If it’s between being honest and being kind with your spouse, be kind every time! You can tell her the dinner is awful when she asks, but you increase the chances of conflict. Smile, and tell her it’s delicious.

8. Compliment your spouse twice a day.
One of the major reasons for arguments between couples is that people don’t feel acknowledged. Acknowledge your spouse regularly, and they’ll feel appreciated. Appreciated people are less likely to argue.

9. Know Your Triggers Around Arguing.
Familiarize yourself with what comments and situations trigger your anger and argumentative behavior. What are these about? When do they occur? Learn how you can avoid getting trapped in the future.

10. Make yourself accountable for your arguments.
Have other family members hold you accountable for your behavior. Tell them your working on improving, and would they please remind you if you’re starting to argue again. This puts some teeth behind your commitment.

Mark Brandenburg

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
Phone (+1) 651-766-9976
“Helping Men Succeed”

 Here’s to writing powerful resumes – and living empowered lives

Beverley Neil

February 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

When It Comes to Resumes – Some Things Never Change

In August 2007 I wrote a blog piece about how job seekers were letting themselves down in what was then a low-unemployment market. They had become casual because the jobs were there seemingly for the asking.

What many didn’t realise was that recruiters were still judging them on the standard and relevance of their resume and cover letter, and many were being dismissed on that basis.

How the figures have turned, and are turning still with the unemployment figures steadily rising. Now, more than ever, it is time to pay close attention to the points I outlined in that blog post over a year ago.

I’ve included here below those comments – direct from recruiters – that I posted back then:

<begin quote>

“Lately I have been finding more and more that I am receiving consistently poor resumes, which I generally put down to:

  • Laziness of applicants
  • Not knowing any better or
  • A perceived lack of importance seen by candidates at this stage of the recruitment process.

It may simply be a Generation Y thing where candidates feel the jobs will or should come to them with little or no effort made on their behalf? Some of the most common issues I find with resumes are:

  • They don’t sell the person well (e.g. are just a description of employment history, etc)
  • They are far too wordy: generally I feel they should be shorter, sharper, punchier and attract interest (sell someone) more quickly
  • They are not specific in content towards the role or industry people are applying for (are obviously generic resumes being sent for any job)”

This recruiter’s complaint was that he simply could not see any value in these applicants. He finds himself constantly having to tell candidates they are less likely to be selected for an interview, or will be totally rejected by either himself or the client, by presenting with documents full of mistakes, irrelevant, too wordy and with unattractive formatting.

Interested, I went on to contact other consultants and here is the feedback I received:

“People flick off CVs here there and everywhere without much thought. Often we don’t even get a cover letter, the formatting is poor, spelling mistakes, too much jargon and buzz words which don’t have much depth.”

And from another source:

“Whilst the media continues to ramp up the candidate short market there is the perception from candidates to up-sell themselves and have above-market expectations of their worth (both financially and technically). There is the misconception that there are fewer applicants for the jobs. When it comes to the top jobs there is no change, there was and will continue to be strong competition amongst candidates.”

If you think it is easy for an applicant to walk into an interview today without taking too much trouble, then think again. Unless you present yourself in the best possible light, you still may not capture that interview.

Strong communications and excellent presentation will never be redundant.

<end quote>

This is sound advice when you’re preparing your resume. Some things really never do change.

Here’s to writing powerful resumes

Beverley Neil

February 10, 2009 at 3:32 am 3 comments


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