Qualifications – what do employers look for?

When applying for jobs, it is important that you read through the job description thoroughly before submitting your application. A lot of what employers are actually looking for in their potential associate is written right in the job description and requirements. In fact, you should review your resume against the requirements listed in order to make sure you have covered everything the employer is looking for. If you can address all the requirements by the information in your resume or in your cover letter, you will be on the right track for getting the job.

However, there is a whole list of skills employers look for that are never spelled out in the job description. These skills are typically referred to as employability skills, which are skills beyond your technical knowledge and qualifications that make you a great professional in your field. Don’t panic, you already have employability skills, you just may not think of them as critical for getting a job.

The employability skills have been grouped in eight categories:

• Communication skills

• Teamwork skills

• Problem-solving skills

• Initiative and enterprise skills

• Planning and organizing skills

• Self-management

• Learning skills

• Technology skills

Now that you have read the categories, you are thinking to yourself, yes, I have those skills. But did you ever think to list them on the resume? Most people focus on their professional achievements and responsibilities, and they often skip these skills in favor of those that are job specific. However, more and more employers look for these skills in resumes. Your potential employer wants to know that you are a team player, that you communicate well, and will show initiative when needed. While you may think this is implied by your interest in the available position, employers like to see these skills called out on your resume or cover letter.

The best way to demonstrate these skills is through your experience and under your qualifications. Point out the initiatives you have participated in that required you to work in a team, under a deadline, or as a self-starter. Demonstrate your loyalty through pointing out your accomplishments at an organization and how they benefited your team as a whole (not just you). You can showcase the employability skills in your cover letter by openly showing your enthusiasm for the available position, stating your commitment to your career objective, indicating your motivation and your integrity, and showing that you are above all un-selfish and credible. These skills are just as critical to your ability to do a great job as your professional experience and education – employers are looking for someone who will be a great fit on their team and in their organization, someone who works well under pressure but also has a sense of humor and has a balance between their personal and professional life.

Review your existing resume. Does it contain any employability skills? If not, make revisions to incorporate those employability skills you feel you excel in. If you are unsure, ask your friends or family for an objective opinion, so that you can get a better idea of how people around you see you as a person as well as a professional. Keep these attributes in mind as you compose your resume and your cover letter, and especially as you are taking part in interviews. These skills can make a difference between knowing how to do a job and being qualified to exceed goals and grow in your career.

Designing your resume to grab employer’s attention

Job hunting can be one of the most exhilarating and yet one of the most agonizing experiences in your life. While you look forward to the new chapter in your professional life, finding a way to stand out from other candidates, who are at least equally qualified for the position you want, is a difficult task.

Your resume is the first contact your potential employer has with you. A well formatted and a well-written resume can make a difference between getting the interview and getting the job, and being passed over. Most employers receive a stack of resumes of qualified candidates and scan them quickly before they decide whether or not hey want to read further. You only have a few seconds to make a lasting impression. Don’t panic. Instead, focus on the design of your resume as it is the first thing your employer, whether on paper or in electronic form.

The most commonly made mistake in resume design include using templates that are already available in Microsoft Word. While these templates provide a quick, easy to follow tools to create your resume, they are outdated, and they will make your resume appear generic and uninviting. Additionally, these templates, while well formatted in Microsoft Word, will not translate well when emailed or uploaded to job search engine web sites.

Second most commonly made mistake in resume design is inclusion of graphics on the page. Your picture and/or any other graphics are not appropriate for a resume. Including anything outside of plain text will make you stand out in a way that makes the employer think you are not taking yourself seriously as a professional, and this is certainly not the first impression you want to make. You can find samples of resumes on the Internet; search for resumes by your industry to find the templates that make most sense for the job you are seeking. Than work on a blank page to replicate the look and feel of the resume you like.

The following are basic formatting rules for your resume:

– Limit the length of the resume to two pages.

– The page should have one-inch margins, top and bottom, right and left.

– Use left justification only – as a rule, do not center the content of your resume.

– The font and font size should be consistent.

– The bullet points should be basic – use circles or squares, but never any symbols that may not translate well when you email your resume to your potential employer.

– Headlines can be in all caps; the remaining text should not have special formatting.

– Do not underline any of the information in your resume. In the world of Internet driven job applications, underlining in a document implies a web link.

– The font size for headlines should not exceed 14 points; the remainder of the text in the resume should not exceed 12 points.

– Use the Tab key instead of the Space bar to create spaces between the text in your resume.

As a last formatting check point, ask your friends or your family for help in reviewing your resume. Send the resume file via email to a few of your friends – ask them to review the resume and make sure nothing seems out of place. Print out the resume on paper and review to make sure that margins are accurately set, and that the content doesn’t appear crowded on the page. Keep in mind – when it comes to your resume, sleek simple appearance, and great writing, will get you the job you are seeking.