Just Send Us Your Resume

David Ivers is from Sydney, Australia. He is a qualified Primary and Secondary School Teacher. In total, he has served on school leadership teams for 16 years in senior leadership roles.

A typical part of most job advertisements finishes with: “Want to apply, just send us your résumé and a cover letter”. Yet consistently, people submit their résumé, with a cover letter and then sit back and wait for the phone call requesting a job interview. When the phone call never comes, they wonder why. Despite this, the next job advertisement comes along, the process is repeated and the same outcome is achieved.

If this keeps happening, there are only a couple of reasons why.

  1. You do not meet the criteria (essential and desirable).
  2. Your résumé and cover letter is too generic, bland and does not answer the criteria.
  3. There were too many applicants and your résumé just did not stand out.

The common theme here is the résumé and the cover letter. If you are applying for a Graduate Program with a Government agency, you should expect that there will literally be thousands of applications for possibly 10 positions, maybe less. So, what you put in your résumé is critical, so too is your cover letter.

Employers typically employ an array of methods to cull from say 3,000 applicants to 30 to 20 and finally the 10 successful applicants. Cover letters that are not typed, usually create the impression that you are an applicant that is not ‘tech savvy’. Application forms that are not typed also give the same impression. These days, almost every job has some aspect of technology attached to it. The cover letter that does not address the stated criteria usually goes straight to the bin. Letters that are addressed generically, for example, “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Recruitment Manager” usually don’t make the grade. The logic here is simple. If you really want a job, take some interest and find out who specifically you should address the letter to. This tells an employer that you have done your homework. If it is a large Government agency or department, it is common to, at the very least, address the letter to the person in charge of that Government agency or department. Likewise, a cover letter that is overly long, will probably create a level of ‘disinterestedness’ with the reader. More than 2 pages, when you are culling thousands of applications, is too long. If you do get an interview, don’t be surprised if there is more than one.

The logic here is simple. If you really want a job, take some interest and find out who specifically you should address the letter to. This tells an employer that you have done your homework. If it is a large Government agency or department, it is common to, at the very least, address the letter to the person in charge of that Government agency or department. Likewise, a cover letter that is overly long, will probably create a level of ‘disinterestedness’ with the reader. More than 2 pages, when you are culling thousands of applications, is too long. If you do get an interview, don’t be surprised if there is more than one.

Before you sign the letter, make sure you have checked the spelling and punctuation and even asked a friend to proofread for you. If it doesn’t make sense to your friend, how will it make sense to your future employer. Finally, Government agencies are usually accountable to the public, either through a legislature and/or annual reports published on their website. Find them, read them and work information from these reports into your letter, especially where it aligns to the criteria for the job you are applying for. This tells your prospective employer that you really are interested in the work of this Government agency.

This raises the question of the résumé. Too many submit a generic résumé, not realizing that they need to adjust it for the employer they’re sending it to. If you are looking for an administrative position in the Department of Public Works, don’t submit a résumé that would be more at home in the Department of Health. You can get too bland or too clever when it comes to the résumé. Remember, ‘Curriculum Vitae’ is simply a detailed résumé.

Some, will say that the résumé should be 2-3 pages, no more. If you are a graduate, that is probably a good guide. If you have been working a long time, it might be substantially longer. As this article is targeting graduate applicants, aim to keep it to no more than 3 pages.

 

A good résumé gives information about you, a great résumé tells a story, so that you (the employer) feel compelled to ask questions and learn more.

DAVID IVERS

A good résumé gives:

Biographical Details: Typically, name, address for correspondence, contact phone number and possibly a date of birth.

Educational Qualifications Gained: Degrees, Diplomas, Certificates, etc, should be named here and ‘Transcripts of Results’ included in an Appendix. A subset of this section can be significant, recent professional learning. If you are required to hold a license or government registration for your job, include that in this section also.

Employment History: Use a reverse chronological order of roles (starting with the most recent) and move back in time to your first role. Do not include roles that were for a short period (eg. 2 weeks), unless you were paid a higher allowance for it or it exposed you to a period of significant learning (such as becoming an Acting Director for a month). Each role should have a brief description beneath it, usually 2-4 sentences. If for example, you are applying to the Department of Public Works and was a ‘Trainee Manager’ for a large retail company, include it. If a major organization targeted you and included you in a ‘Trainee Manager’ program, it tells a future employer that a previous employer saw Leadership potential in you.

Technical and Non-Technical skills: This, allows the employer to see what skills you have acquired over the years. This could include First Aid training, Computer skills, Telephone skills, Conflict Resolution skills, just to name a few.

Professional Memberships: This can give an indication as to where your interests and skills really are.

Other Achievements: For example, if you represented your State in sport, you should note that. If you are applying for a Teaching position, a Principal may well find your sporting abilities useful in the extra-curricular program.

Referees: One of these should be your current employer, even if it is from the part-time job that you worked, whilst getting your degree. A second may be a previous employer or a lecturer from your studies. A third might be someone who has been working in your desired profession for 5 or more years and can attest to your abilities. A fourth could be someone of good character and standing in the community, who can attest to you also being of good character. Avoid relatives or people just starting in that profession themselves.

Always remember the purpose that the résumé has.

“A great résumé tells a story so that you (the employer) feel compelled to ask questions and learn more.”

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