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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Reach for the Sky

This time last year I was unemployed. I was unsure if I wanted to continue writing my honours thesis, didn’t know what type of job to apply for or if I wanted to work full time. The financial burden was really hard, but the emotional burden of not knowing what I was doing or if I was going to be able to commit to any job for long was even harder. I suppose I was a bit lost.

This time last year was also the time that I emailed a number of organisations that specialise in marketing and professional writing, hoping that I may be able to tap into freelance writing. It was only via this channel that I was able to begin writing resumes professionally on a freelance basis. I found I really enjoyed finding out the skills and qualities of a job seeker and being able to syphon it into a single vibrant document designed to sell them to a potential employer. I learned that a good resume makes the difference between an employer seeing what a candidate actually has on offer, or reading the first page and tossing it in the bin. I also learned quickly that not having a resume that is effective holds many job seekers back. It is a very big barrier.

It isn’t the only barrier though, and I am soon to discover just how severe and debilitating some of those barriers can be. Writing resumes professionally really tapped into an interest in the employment sector for me, so much so that I have taken steps to further explore it. When I found out recently that I was required to complete a 50 hour placement volunteering in the community as part of a university subject, I decided that I could either treat it as an inconvenience or as an opportunity to learn something about an area of interest, and to learn more about myself. And so it has eventuated that I will spend time in two sister organisations, one which assists job seekers with disabilities, and one which assists job seekers with mental health issues. The DES and Worklink, work hand in hand with one another, and I am very excited and grateful for their willingness to accommodate me and support through a meaningful experience. I hope to keep you all up to date on this placement as I go.

As I’d also like to further pursue professional corporate and resume writing after I finish university – I have a facebook page, Sky High Professional Writing – I want to start offering job seeking advice and resume tips on this blog to support the process of entering in to such a venture. To start, here are my top 8 tips for applying for jobs:

1. Your resume is your personal marketing document. Make sure it reflects who you are. It should be 3 pages at most unless you have 30 years’ experience and everything is relevant. No employer will read it if it is 10 pages long.

2. Start broadly from the top of your resume. Key competencies or qualities first, career objective, education, career history, key skills and achievements, community involvement, and then specifics like computer skills if relevant. Only put in work experience which is relevant for the job you apply for.

3. Tap into qualities and assets that employers love, for example your superior problem solving skills, your ability to relate to internal and external customers on every level, your ability to acquire knowledge rapidly, your commitment to ongoing professional renewal, your passion for social equity or going above and beyond to deliver exceptional service.

4. Adjust your resume for EVERY application. Make sure it speaks to the organisation you are applying to work for.

5. Re-write your cover letter for EVERY application. Employers can tell when you have done a cut and paste job. Address the criteria in the ad. Visit the website and show that you know the organisation by telling them how your skills align with the services they provide and how your qualities and previous experience reflect what is in their mission statement. They want to know why you want to work for their organisation, or your application will end up in the bin.

6. Write letters and send your resume to organisations that aren’t advertising. Most jobs are not advertised and most organisations love it when you take the time to show an interest in their business or service. But again, write specifically to the organisation. Cut and paste is a big waste of time.

7. Apply for full time jobs even if you want to work part time, and part time jobs even if you want to work full time. If you get their attention and present well in an interview, you never know what they may be willing to offer you.

8. Check your spelling and grammar. Your job application is not Facebook. Recruitment officers can and WILL throw your application in the bin if you have careless spelling errors and don’t know how to use an apostrophe. They can and ARE that picky. Your professional literacy matters to them even if it doesn’t to you.

Hopefully this might help some stressed out job seekers out there. Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook and recommend me to your friends. It’s a cut throat world, but a good resume is a secret weapon!


  1. Thanks for this. I'm employed (have been in the same job for four years) and am thinking about looking for something else as I'm generally just unhappy and bored in my position. What's holding me back though is my CV and cover letter! I seem to have lost the self-confidence to write an impressive letter and tailor my CV.

    I'm going to put these tips into practice.

    (as an aside, the captcha is horrid)

  2. Excellent tips!! It motivates the job seekers to prepare an impressive resume, which results in reducing the unemployment rate.

     Sample Resume Template 

  3. Thanks guys! I think it helps to remember that the resume and letter is what gets you the interview. The interview gets you the job - but if your application doesn't stand out, then it is an opportunity missed.

    I am happy to negotiate pricing for either of you if you would like a professional resume or letter and will happily send a PDF sample of what I can offer. Some have indicated to me that they don't see paying for a resume as a worthwhile investment, but if it gets you the job then I think it is. And while many businesses charge in excess of $200 for a resume, I am doing them at the moment for $79. It takes around 4 hours to do them properly, so it is really only my time I want payment for!! If either of you are interested, drop me an email at I am a wizz at cover letters and selection criteria as well!


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