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Resume submission: tips to improve your chances of being the successful applicant

Most of us have probably only been on one end of the resume submission process. You find your dream job, submit your resume, and cross your fingers. So, I thought it would be valuable to provide insight into what it’s like on the other side of the resume submission process.
James Clark
2020-08-27

In over 7 years of recruitment and hiring, I've met and spoken to all types of people for all types of roles. Roles I hire for can range from graduate development positions, administration positions, and digital marketing coordinators, all the way to corporate law positions, engineering managers, and C-level executives. While these roles may vary, a few things remain constant. 

Up until now, I haven't put pen to paper to examine the distinct traits, practises, and behavioural patterns both myself and other key recruitment leaders across Australia have found in successful candidates. So, the goal of this article is to provide you with a few valuable techniques that you might not have considered when applying for a job or interviewing for your dream role.

I'm going to break these tips down into a series of articles covering the entire hiring and recruitment process. In today’s article, I’ll take a closer look at resume submission, while future articles will cover the initial phone call, first round interview, second round interview, and finally, the offer. In these articles, I'll also provide additional insights into the routines I follow as a prospective hiring manager during each phase, to give you more context on the process. 

Let’s get started with step one of the hiring process: 

Resume submission 

Most of us have probably only been on one end of the resume submission process. You find your dream job listing on Seek, click through to submit your resume, and cross your fingers for good news. I thought it would be valuable to provide some insight into what it’s like on the other side of the resume submission process. 

What is the hiring manager doing? 

Depending on the role, I could be receiving hundreds of resumes per day. Keep in mind I'll likely have multiple active positions at one time. Hundreds of resumes for multiple job listings is a lot to keep on top of. As such, there simply isn’t enough time to devote 5 to 10 minutes to read each applicant’s resume in depth. Instead, I'll read most resumes within the first week of a roles' creation. Then, out of potentially hundreds of applicants, I will have a shortlist of around 10 preferred candidates.  

To improve your likelihood of making it into the top 10%, here are some things that will instantly hurt your chances of reaching the 'initial phone call' stage. To me, these things can make all the difference between standing out and being overlooked:  

Make a good first impression with your resume 

Resumes are a glance into your life and career. Just like your home, a messy resume indicates that you are potentially unorganised and lack attention to detail. To stand out, spend quality time making an eye-catching resume. You don’t need to be a graphic design whiz; as long as it's easy to read and well laid out, you'll start things off on the right foot. 

Do your research 

It’s better to apply for 10 jobs where you know at least 4 to 5 relevant facts about the business, rather than 20 jobs where you know nothing about them at all. This point applies to the ‘initial phone call’ stage as well, but it’s something you should do prior to submitting your resume -  or at least very soon after resume submission.  

When you take the time to learn about a business and retain that information for a prospective call, you demonstrate a level of proactivity which sets you apart from applicants who are too lazy to do some basic Googling. The more you know and retain, the more impressed a hiring manager will be in an interview. 

Other important notes 

  • Triple-check your grammar: Grammar errors in your resume show me you lack attention to detail.  
  • Don't include a photo in your resume: This is a question I get a lot: "should I put a professional photo in my resume?" As a rule of thumb, I would say no. In my opinion, they are non-essential page fillers. A photo of you detracts from what's really important to a hiring manager, which is your professional experience, goals, education, and professional/extra-curricular achievements.  
  • Don't include your referees’ contact information: While this is certainly not common practise and something I rarely see in resumes, it’s still worth pointing out. I would advise against including your referees’ contact details in your resume. This is because your referees may receive unsolicited calls from internal hiring managers and external agents willing to break Australian resume confidentiality laws and approach them directly regarding the same vacancy or other vacancies. 
  • I hope this has given you a few helpful pointers to consider next time you submit your resume. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the next article in this series, where I’ll take a closer look at the ‘initial phone call’ stage of the recruitment process! 

Until then, be sure to check out our articles on Tips you need to read before your next interview and How you can improve your job prospects with online learning for more helpful insights on becoming the successful applicant. 

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