It’s a sad reality that the current South African job market is… depressing. The ratio between job seekers and suitable, available jobs is inversely proportional, and alarmingly so. Everyone is looking for that edge to set them apart from the very many other equally-qualified candidates, all vying for the same position.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to guarantee that your resume distinguishes itself from the ream of CVs sent to every recruiter. Here’s what to do.
11 tips to compiling the perfect resume
Tip #1: Pay attention to your contact information
‘Really?’ you ask. Yes, actually. This may seem too obvious to mention, but have you considered a few of the following factors:
- How will you display your name?
- Are you planning to use a nickname, or your full name? This is important because whatever you choose, make sure you consistently represent your name on all your personal branding materials, such as business cards, your LinkedIn profile, online portfolio or blog.
- Select just one email address and one phone number to include on your resume. In fact, set up an email address that’s dedicated to your job-search activities, and use your cell phone number, as this will allow you to control the voicemail message, who answers the phone, and when.
Tip #2: Curate your online profile appropriately
One survey found that, upon receiving your resume, 93% of recruiters will first search for your online profiles before they decide whether to interview you. Save them some time by including the URL to your LinkedIn profile in your resume.
In addition to your LinkedIn account, include any links that are relevant to your work, such as a personal website, portfolio, or blog. If your work involves social media, you may include the links to other social media accounts.
Tip #3: Use sample job descriptions
When you're writing the perfect resume, tailor it to support a specific job goal. One of the best ways to ensure your resume is properly positioned is to identify sample jobs that you’re interested in and qualified to perform. Search online and gather a few job postings that represent the type of position you’re targeting. It doesn’t matter if the location isn’t ideal; for this purpose, you should only be concerned with the job description and its requirements.
Copy and paste the text of the description itself into a Word or Google document and then highlight or bold any requirements or desirable skills from the posting you possess. This will help you identify the qualifications you should showcase in your resume.
Tip #4: Highlight where you’re proficient
In which technical platforms and tools are you proficient? List all the ones that apply to your work. Be specific and as comprehensive as possible. This list can include anything from social media platforms to project management systems and computer languages. If you’ve worked with proprietary platforms, list those as well.
If you need to brush up on some of the skills listed in the job description, research free or online courses to help you.
Tip #5: When it comes to professional experience, start with the most recent
You’ll need to work your way backwards through your different positions. Detail all your professional positions within the past 15 years. If you served in the military or held a board position, list this experience as you would any other role in your work history. If you recently graduated from college, include your internships and any work experience that took place since you entered college.
Don’t forget to include:
- The company name and its website address
- Start and end dates
- A brief description of your role
- Your achievements
Tip #6: Include your early career history, but keep it simple and brief
If you’ve been in the workforce for over 15 years, chances are you have a few positions that got left out of the previous section. But, recruiters are not interested in every single thing you did dating back to your first part-time job as a teenager, especially if it has no relevance to the job for which you’re applying.
Before you get started, make a list of the job titles you held, the names of each employer, the locations where you worked, and your dates of employment for these roles. While the dates will likely not get used in your resume, it’s good to have a clear record of your earlier experiences. Then, whatever you don’t include in the first section can be included in a brief (potentially bulleted) list straight after.
Tip #7: Your volunteer work is important
Have you been actively volunteering with a non-profit organisation? Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is a great way to fill an employment gap or supplement your work history when you’re trying to change careers. List any volunteer work you’ve done that’s relevant to your current job goals in chronological order, beginning with your most recent work. If you’re new to the workforce, include any campus activities or clubs in which you were active.
Details of your volunteer work should include:
- the name of the organisation and its website URL
- the positions you held
- your years of involvement
- your responsibilities and contributions to the non-profit.
Tip #8: Remember your affiliations
List any relevant professional organisations or affiliations you’re a member of that aren’t listed on your resume. If you took an active role in the organisation, describe your responsibilities and any notable achievements.
Tip #9: Bi- or multilingual skills must be included
Language skills can be a great selling point on your resume. If you’re multilingual, be sure to list each language you speak and how proficient you are in each of them.
Tip #10: Be thorough about detailing your education and development
Create a record of all your education, beginning with your most recent degree. List the institution, its location, the name of your degree, your majors, the year you graduated, and any honours associated with the degree, such as summa or magna cum laude. Do the same for any relevant certifications you’ve obtained or additional training opportunities or workshops you’ve attended.
Tip #11: Have you received great feedback? Then include it.
Positive third-party testimonials are a great way to demonstrate your hard and soft skills in the workplace.
What non-negotiables must an HSE professional include on their CV?
As an HSE professional looking to change jobs or preparing to enter the occupational safety industry, remember to include the following when compiling your resume.
- Your areas of expertise, e.g. investigating and reporting; hazard identification; toolbox talks/safety moments, etc.
- Specific courses that relate to the position for which you’re applying, e.g. fire safety, safety audits.
- Development skills, i.e. involved in the development of your company’s policies and procedures, training programmes.
- Industries in which you’ve worked, e.g. Oil and Gas; mining; energy; medical.
- Professional highlights/key accomplishments, e.g. compilation of company-specific guidelines, responsible for revised safety procedures.