Just be yourself

If you’re looking for a job it’s a daunting process because you have to sell yourself to an employer and most people don’t have to do this very often. Parents returning from parenting can find it particularly daunting because they’ve found themselves surrounded by nappies, cleaning, cooking and washing and the thought of presenting themselves to other adults can be scary.

I’ve spoken to some EzyLearn students in the last couple weeks about our Accounting Course Tutor Initiative and have been impressed at how capable many of them (you) are!

Continue reading Just be yourself

A Great Trick for Getting Rid of Nerves on a Job Interview

Who’s interviewing whom?

The truth is that you’re interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. When you look at it this way, the job interview suddenly becomes less daunting.

DO YOU KNOW THERE is no reason to find a job interview nerve wracking, even though so many people do. It’s simple enough to understand why. People put a lot of pressure on themselves to give the best impression and come out as the successful candidate. And look, these things are important, no argument there, but together the pressure to give a good impression AND win the job itself, can conspire to turn you into a “yes man” (or woman).

A job interview is about finding a suitable candidate for a position available at a company. This is not a one way street. As much as you need to give a good impression, so does the company, and if you look at it that way — that you’re interviewing them as much as they are you — it takes the pressure off A LOT.

Ask questions

I don’t just mean at the end when they ask if you have any questions — honestly, you’re probably not likely to have any questions by this point, because if you’ve been paying attention, you should have covered any of questions you had going in.

When you’re asked how you would handle a particular situation or what your approach to something might be, ask for more information if you need or qualify the situation they’re referring. People are often afraid to do this in case they look silly, when actually it makes you look quite smart, and show that you’re not afraid of authority.

Take your time

using audio in powerpointDon’t rush to answer a question. There’s no real way to prepare for an interviewer’s questions, and they know that. However, your answers should also be rooted in some previous experience you’ve had, so while it may take you a while to wrack your brains for a previous example, you shouldn’t be unable to answer either. If you can’t think of an exact experience, discuss a similar one and how you handled that.

Be yourself and relax

This is so important, because as much as the interviewer may be looking for the most skilled candidate, they’re also looking to make sure you’re not a robot. Show your personality, show you’re a human, establish some rapport with your interviewers. Some of the interview process is confirming you are what you say you are, but mostly it’s finding out if you’re someone they want working for them.

In the IT and engineering industry, interviews aren’t even set up to determine skill sets, but rather personality traits, because many companies today are looking for programmers and engineers who can communicate to stakeholders in plain English, rather than tech talk.

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Remember, who you are in the interview should reflect and expand on who you are in your resume and cover letter. You can learn how to use PowerPoint to create a resume in our PowerPoint training courses. For more information, visit our website.

You can also brush up on Word for your resume presentation by enrolling in our Microsoft Word online training courses. You’ll be amazed at the things you can create with a comprehensive understanding of Word.


learn PowerPoint online training course

Gone are the days of excruciatingly dull PowerPoint slide presentations… Nowadays PowerPoint is the hidden gem used to generate animations, videos, movies, advertising and graphics. It’s a great ally to the marketer or social media person in your organisation. This creative program can also be used to conjure up the most beautiful and modern pictorial slides to enhance any presentation or induction.

Find out more about our 2016 version PowerPoint courses.


 

The Do’s and Don’ts of a Compelling Resume and Cover Letter

Is your resume up to speed?

do's and dont's of writing a great resume
If you thought you’d never have to write another resume as a contractor or self-employed business person, then think again.

STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS does not mean you’ll never need to write a resume or cover letter again. We’ve written about this topic before — indeed, when you first start your own business you’ll probably spend a lot of your time applying to work with other businesses directly or through a recruiter.

And the truth about being a freelancer or contractor is that you’ll most likely spend the rest of your working life applying for work. If you don’t like the idea of this, well then maybe being self-employed isn’t for you! Why? Because in order to find the best work; the kind that you’ll love, you need to be always looking for it — or always be closing, if there any fans of Glengarry Glen Ross in the house tonight.

The truth about being a freelancer or contractor is that you’ll most likely spend the rest of your working life applying for work. 

Do pay attention to design

I’m choosing to exclude the “grammar, spelling and punctuation” portion of this list, because if you don’t already know that’s important by now, then oh boy, I can’t help you. But formatting and design are important, whether you’re looking for work in a creative industry or not.

The key is to grab attention in less than half a minute. You can use different fonts, for instance, a larger plain font for headings and a smaller (perhaps serif) font for the body text. You can type your resume up in Word or use PowerPoint or some other design tool. But just don’t get ahead of yourself and use something too fancy that you don’t have a proper grasp of and end up with a resume that is hotchpotch and messy.

These days, some recruiters will even upload your resume into their own “system” which “parses” your content and basically re-formats it all into plain text. If this happens, your gorgeous CV will look very different on the screen of the employer. The simpler the design and layout of the original resume, the easier it will be for them to read if they indeed use this system for getting through the applications of hundreds of job applicants. But don’t feel disheartened, there are others ways to get spotted amongst the crowd.

Don’t use jargon

The next hurdle, once you’ve got the recruiter or hiring manager reading your resume or cover letter, is to urge them to call you. Do not, I repeat, do not use jargon of any kind in either your resume or cover letter. The minute someone reads a sentence that starts with or contains “experienced in”, “team player”, “responsible for”, etc, etc, they switch off.

These phrases mean literally nothing. Nothing. Telling someone you’re a team player: redundant. Everyone should be a team player, and there is no one, not a single person ever, who has written on their resume that they’re not one. Instead, tell the employer what you like about working in a team. (On a similar note, also avoid the term “able to work autonomously” by explaining the times you’ve had to and how that’s gone.)  

When you go to use the words “experienced in” try to remind yourself that this is something that happens to you — not something you proactively go out and do. Instead refer to your background in terms of achievements. Search “typical jargon to avoid on a resume” for more.

Do show your personality

Remember that employers are people too. Work culture is important to lots of businesses, so they need to know that any potential new hire, freelance or otherwise, will be able to fit in and work with them. And if you can make the person reading your resume laugh, oftentimes you’ll get a call back.

Don’t list silly interests

I should add a qualifier to that, which says that it’s okay to list a really silly interest if you know and make a point of noting that it’s a silly interest. This makes you seem thoughtful, and definitely not as dumb as a person who says they like reading or sports on their resume. Reading what? It implies novels, but it could also mean signposts, Aldi catalogues, Post It Notes. And if you like playing cricket more than once a year on Boxing Day, then for the love of all that is holy (cricket on Boxing Day), say that. Otherwise, put down interests that you actually are interested in — they reveal a lot about the type of person you are, which again, goes to help with the point above.

***

If you’d like to learn how to create a resume in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, or if you’d like to learn more about starting your own business, you can be enrolling in our PowerPoint training courses or our online Word training courses, or our Business Start Up Course.


learn xero online training course videos

At EzyLearn you can choose from a range of XERO online courses, depending on your skill level — or you can access ALL courses for ONE LOW PRICE. All our courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

Is Your Resume Costing You a Bookkeeping Job?

It’s easy to spot bad Microsoft Word skills

203 Microsoft Word Beginners Courses for sales letter, flyers, resumes, cover letters and tender proposalsWe’ve had several hundred bookkeepers Pre-Qualify for our National Bookkeeping, Bookkeeper Directory and most of them upload a resume demonstrating their qualifications, experience and references but I’m baffled at how bad the formatting is in these resumes!

To help our students do the best job presenting themselves on paper we’re including the Microsoft Word Course for free when you enrol into either the MYOB Courses or Microsoft Excel Courses (when you choose the all courses and 12 months access with Certificate option). That’s a saving of $267!

Resume writing tips for bookkeepers

Here are some tips we’ve published in the past:

The problem with making mistakes with your Microsoft Word formatting is that questions could come up in an interview. The Interviewer might throw in a question about software skills, particularly if you’ll be writing some detailed reports or proposals, forecasts etc. in the new job.

Online Training Course special offers for MYOB, Xero, Excel, Word and more
Click the image to see our current special offers!

Here are some extra tips for Bookkeeper resumes

Most of the Microsoft Word skills you need to write a good resume are covered in our Word Intermediate Courses, but we’re including the entire 9 courses so you can become a power Microsoft Word user! Here are a couple other things to think about when writing you resume:

  1. Include an image – it makes you stand out and brings the reader closer (make it a selfie where you’re smiling 🙂
  2. Use tables or “Set tabs” to make columns line up
  3. Headers and Footers demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge of Word
  4. Include your full name and desired role in the filename (we’re all using files these days! use it to your advantage)

The last one about filenames is a big one because if interviewers are like me they’ll put all the resumes for one role into a folder and I find myself renaming most of them!

FREE Microsoft Word Workbook

We spend a lot of time on marketing so I assume that you know we offer free samples of our training material, but I should mention again that the Microsoft Word sample is actually the entire Word Beginners Course 201 Training Workbook, make sure you get it! Get it now.

Quickbooks Course Update

intuit-quickbooks-accounting-software-training-courses-logoIt’s been a while in the making, but we have the final draft of our Quickbooks Course workbook! Unlike some training companies, we write up a detailed course story based on a real business scenario and use that as the basis for recording our screen videos that demonstrate how to use the software. We’ve had a huge number of Course Alert Registrations and they’ll ALL receive a free copy of the workbook, so if you haven’t already registered do it NOW!

EzyLearn Wholesale Partner Update

earn money working from home using and teaching how to use MS Office, MYOB, WordPress, Facebook, Xero and moreI made a brief reference to our new Enrolment Voucher system in a recent post about BAS deadlines and we’ve got an update. The new enrolment voucher system is now in beta testing which means we’ll shortly be inviting EzyLearn students who love our courses to receive a massive wholesale discount on selected courses. Make sure you register your interest.

Free Microsoft Word Beginners Training Workbook

Get Your Free Microsoft Word Training Workbook Now

Microsoft Word Beginners Training Course WorkbookWe’ve been hard at work on our Microsoft Word courses in readiness for the launch of our 2016 Microsoft Word courses and I’m happy to let you know that we are offering the first of our Microsoft Word Course Workbooks to you for free. It’s the 201 Course workbook and it includes exercise files that explain all of the different types of tools available in Microsoft Word.

Interested? Register Now for the Microosft Word Beginners Workbook and Exercise Files

Microsoft Word Exercise Files

The image in this blog is of one of the exercise files we’ve created that has loads of different Word formatting, including:

  • Font formatting (colour, size)
  • Paragraph Formatting (alignment, spacing)
  • Heading Styles
  • Headers and Footers
  • Images and Graphics
  • Tabs
  • Background shading formatting
  • Inserting hyperlinks
  • much more..

Sales Letters, Proposals and more

The “Content Marketing for Real Estate Agents” exercise file included with the free Microsoft Word workbook is one of dozens of files we include in our MS Word Courses and as a Microsoft Word student you’ll also get access to new training content we’re including Sales Letters and Proposals.

The exercises in all of our courses and the object for every course is to use software for practical purposes in every business. The Sales Letters and Proposals exercise files we’re working on combine software skills with marketing strategies we go through in our Small Business Marketing Course. Not only will you learn strategies to grow your business by increase your customer base and enhancing your product service offering, you get to create your own marketing materials using Microsoft Word.

Register for the free workbook

Intermediate skills in Microsoft Word can help you create great sales letters

Microsoft Word Training Course is Being Nurtured With New Content

203 Microsoft Word Beginners Courses for sales letter, flyers, resumes, cover letters and tender proposalsI recently wrote about the content in our Microsoft Word Training Courses and because its a couple years old we’ve been offering the Microsoft Word Courses as a FREE BONUS to anyone who enrolled in our Excel or MYOB courses (with certificate options). If you’re a regular reader (subscribe here) or an EzyLearn student you’d also know that we offer either 12 month or lifetime access to courses and that includes access to brand new content.

[highlight]We’re in the process of create brand new content for Microsoft Word, including training on the creation of great sales letters, resumes and tender proposals.[/highlight]

I’m happy to share with you that we’ve been working on our Word course feverishly for the last 3 months (and there is still a couple months of work to go) to make sure that we have training on the most recent version – Microsoft Word 365 (the clould-based Microsoft Word program that you can purchase on an annual subscription that costs less than the previous versions). The new Word course content is now also aimed at helping you create documents to make sales (for businesses) or find work (for job seekers).

If you’ve always wanted to improve your skills using this popular program and write documents faster, make them look more professional or take advantage of tools like Mail Merge then you’ll get some great value out of this course. We’ll be going through some exercises to help you create

  • A great sales letter to highlight the call-to-action for your direct marketing campaigns as well as
  • A resume for the job you’re looking for (and a focussed cover letter).
  • Proposals and tender documents to win new business for your company

Sales Letters, Resume’s, Cover Letters and Proposals

[highlight]Can you see what they all have in common? They are all marketing focussed.[/highlight]

Each of these documents are used by people EVERY day to show how professional, smart, committed and capable they are. Most companies need to write sales letters and proposals to try to win new business and maintain or increase their annual revenue. Job seekers create resumes and cover letters to convince employers that they are the best person to choose for a job vacancy.

In creating this updated Microsoft Word Course content we’ll also be working on some real life examples of creating marketing materials as part of the Small Business Marketing Courses AND our Career Academy that aims to prepare students to confidently search and apply for job vacancies.

Sales Letters for Bookkeepers and Website Designers

Bookkeepers and website designers need new clients all the time, sometimes because they just don’t have enough work but sometimes because the nature of their work is project driven so it’s [highlight]important to always be spending some time in the sales department[/highlight] (even if you are a one person band). Some people do this with content marketing, or Pay-per-click advertising on Google or Facebook, while others actively seek to meet new people and give them a reason to engage their services.

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e’ll be working on sales letters as part of a direct marketing effort to reach potential clients and give them a [highlight]reason to act on the sales letter using a special offer and a call to action[/highlight].

You can create sales letters for your marketing campaigns using beginners skills in Microsoft Word, but when you develop the Intermediate or advanced skills you’ll find a dramatic difference in the quality of your documents.

Special Prices & BONUS Courses are for a LIMITED TIME ONLY

free online training course in Xero or Microsoft Word with MYOB or Microsoft Excel CourseAre you planning on doing a Microsoft Word Course in the new year? Why not enrol now and save at least $50?

After we’ve completed all the new course content and support exercise files we’ll be bringing the Microsoft Word Course prices inline with our other course prices, so when you enrol now you can get the Word course free if you enrol into Excel or MYOB (Certification option) or you can enrol directly into Microsoft Word and get the current discounted price. Enrol now and you’ll get the benefit of the new Word course material when it’s published but you’ll get it at today’s price.

 

How does $20,000 mortgage repayments equate to $47,598.02?

Microsoft Excel Course now includes a mortgage spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel Training Course can help you halve your mortgageA mortgage for your home is a huge debt, particularly for those living in the swelling capital cities with soaring house prices. The pro and cons of buying your own house and living in it are:

  • You don’t pay capital gains tax on a property you live in, but
  • You can’t claim the interest component of your loan

The big problem with this is the interest charge – you can’t claim the cost of it yet it’s a massive component of each and every payment you make on your mortgage. You’d need your house price to go up at least at the interest rate you are paying to make it a good investment – and right now you’d be doing fine (perhaps except in Perth now).

Bigger payments reduce the interest paid

Our Microsoft Excel Training Course now includes an Excel spreadsheet file that will help you see just how much money you’d save if you paid even a small amount off extra each month!

You can use the mortgage comparison file to compare two mortgages, make extra payments or even shorten the term of the loan to see how much you’d need to pay each month if you want to pay your mortgage off quicker.

If you are an existing Excel Course student you’ll find the new file at the end of our Microsoft Excel Advanced Course 309.

Take 10 years off your mortgage while its easy to

I don’t want to turn this into a financial education blog, but there are several reasons to open this spreadsheet and start seeing the resulting figures to workout the best way to allocate the money you earn. Interest rates are at record lows, house prices ‘may’ be peaking, some people say that Australian banks are so highly leveraged to the residential property market that they’ll need to hold more capital reserves.

Either way you look at it, why not use your Microsoft Excel skills and play with some calculations to see how much better off you could be if you are financially prudent now. You can also use this Microsoft Excel file to do a stress test and see how much your mortgage would be if interest rates do go up as many people expect they will.

free online training course in Xero or Microsoft Word with MYOB or Microsoft Excel CourseFree Microsoft Word Course (or Xero Accounting) when you enrol in Excel Certificate Course

Note that if you enrol into Microsoft Excel Courses and choose the certificate option you’ll receive a BONUS course in either Microsoft Word (to create a professional resume) or Xero Accounting! Read our BONUS course offer announcement.

Don’t pay for Microsoft Word when you enrol into Excel or MYOB Training Courses

It’s not a freebie we’re proud of

Microsoft Word Training Course Workbook 204I recently asked our course development team to review the contents of our online Microsoft Word course and got some feedback about the versions we’re currently using in that course. Let’s just say that although the structure of the course is excellent and it takes students from the basics to intermediate and advanced tools using Microsoft Word, we use an earlier version of Word in most of the Workbooks and Training videos. The RESULT – we are offering the Microsoft Word Courses for free for any student who enrols into our Microsoft Excel or MYOB Accounting Training Courses from the www.ezyLearnonline.com.au website!

This offer is available for a limited time only and may be withdrawn at any time.

[quote]Microsoft Word Training Course is currently free when you enrol into Microsoft Excel Course or MYOB Training Courses.[/quote]

Commitment to Improve

The excuses are that we were focussing on MYOB, Xero, Excel, WordPress and the Small Business Management and Marketing courses AND our new National Bookkeeping service, but the truth is that we didn’t give the Word course enough attention and that makes me sad. So, we are currently creating updated workbooks and videos so our students will once again have not only beginners to advanced Word courses for the one price, but also several different versions included for the one price – just like we do for our Microsoft Excel and MYOB Training Courses.

The great news for students who enrol into this Microsoft Word Course is that they’ll also have access to all of the updates and new course content we’re currently creating!

You’ll still learn a lot

Microsoft Word Training CoursesAs I was writing this blog post I realised how fantastic the Internet is. How it enables me (and all other small businesses) to speak to their students and prospective students and make offers like this one. Although I am not proud of the fact that we haven’t updated our Word course the same way we have with our  Microsoft Excel Training Courses it is still a fantastic course that covers LOTS of topics that are relevant regardless of which version you use.

Knowledge covered in the course includes tools that will help you make a professional looking proposal, letterhead, flier, brochure, pricelist and many other important documents for small businesses. These skills are relevant regardless of how the navigation changes between the versions and they include:

  • tabs and tables,
  • styles and tables of contents,
  • ruler and margin settings,
  • how to manage data in a mail merge etc
  • text, paragraph and page formatting
  • headers and footers
  • inserting and aligning with images
  • working with text boxes and text wrapping

Take a look at what is included in the Microsoft Word Courses

Have a look to see what’s included in the course and I’m sure you’ll agree this is fantastic value. The most popular documents that students want to create are:

  1. Invitations
  2. Letterheads
  3. Flyers and brochures
  4. Proposals
  5. Training / Education Guides
  6. Menus
  7. Resume

[button link=”http://ezylearnonline.com.au/courses/microsoft-word/”]Microsoft Word Course Contents[/button]

 

Why the File Name of Your Resume is So Important

There are some very real practical reasons for not naming your resume file, "resume".
There are some very real practical reasons for not naming your resume file, “resume”.

When applying for a job, there are perhaps only two things most job seekers pay any attention to – the impressiveness of their CV and whether their cover letter is equally impressive, which is fine; CVs do have to be impressive, after all. In fact, if you’re looking for tips on crafting a good CV or cover letter, try reading our posts on both topics – one from the horse’s mouth, well actually that of a recruiter, who shares tips on what will get your CV noticed and another outlines the vital importance of covering letters. But the truth is, many people are still sloppy when it comes to their CVs.

Making a Good, Nay, Great First Impression

When you’re applying for a job, you’ve got to put your best foot forward. Most people know this, which is why they spend hours toiling over their resumes and then spend more hours laboriously constructing sentences that are neither ambiguous, nor too forthright, either; lest it leave the recruiter or hiring manager without any questions that could be answered in an interview.

Once we’re asked to come in for an interview, we make sure to wear our fancy interview threads and our best attitude – in short, we turn on the best version of ourselves. It’s about first impressions, after all, and everyone knows this. It’s so basic that all these things serve to do is weed out the tyre-kickers from the real contenders.

A Tougher Market

But in today’s job market the number of real contenders have increased markedly, while opportunities have remained the same, if not decreased in the years since the GFC. Standing out from your competition requires something extra – it could be something like showing a commitment to continuing professional development by taking a short course like many students of our MYOB training courses have done.

It could also be something as simple as demonstrating attention to detail – an important attribute to have if you’re applying for a job as a bookkeeper or an administration assistant, one would assume. Certainly, if I’m looking to hire a new staff member and I’ve had piles of CVs delivered to my inbox from Seek or Gumtree, finicky things like the filename of a person’s CV are things I look at.

If I receive a resume from someone simply saved as “resume” it’s generally safe to say that this person shows little attention to detail. More often than not, I open the file to find something off – poor formatting, spelling mistakes, terrible grammar, and the like. Sometimes this isn’t the case, and I certainly wouldn’t disregard a perfectly good candidate over something like this, but I’ve still made a note of it.

Think of the Interviewer

But there are practical considerations to this, too. Often, I’ll want to forward a couple of CVs onto another staff member to get their input, usually mentioning which candidate I think seems promising in my email. But emailing several CVs all saved as “resume” means the recipient will have to open each file to see if it corresponds to the applicant I was referring to – kind of annoying, particularly for the time-strapped recruiter.

It also makes saving the files on my computer difficult; plus there’s the chance that I could accidentally overwrite your CV with another candidate’s because they each have the same filename. Consequently, you’re not getting a phone call about an interview. All that time you spent on your CV was just negated in less than two seconds when I accidentally clicked ‘yes’ in response to the “‘resume.doc’ already exists. Do you want to replace it?” warning.

Saving your CV with your name and the job title you’re applying for doesn’t just show your attention to detail, it also makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers – who are often advertising for more than one position – to identify who you are and the job you’re applying for, giving you a much great shot at being called in for an interview.

***

Don’t risk your CV getting lost over something as simple as a filename – and if you’re not that attentive to detail, then start! It’s an important attribute to possess, because it means employers can trust that you’ll do your job right, which is why we’re hiring you in the first place. You might also consider getting some help writing your resume and learning how to use Microsoft Word to edit your resume if you need to. If you want to look at starting your own independent contracting business try the Small Business Management and StartUp Course.

Redundancy is Not a Dirty Word: The Positives

Waving a job goodbye through a redundancy can often be a positive step for your career.
Waving a job goodbye through a redundancy can often be a positive step for your career.

There was once a time when saying the word “redundancy” in a workplace stirred much the same feelings as saying “Bomb!” in an airport. But today, as workplaces adapt and change to suit an ever-evolving marketplace, redundancies have become much more commonplace.

Adapt or Die.

Adapt or die. It’s true for businesses, and it’s certainly true for workers. That’s why we find many of our students come to EzyLearn to following a redundancy, taking our MYOB courses and Small Business Management courses to add to their knowledge base — and indeed, add an extra accomplishment under the “education” section of their CVs.

For more on CVs, see our post where we interview a recruiter to find out what makes a fabulous CV. Indeed, when we spoke to Fiona Neumann, recruitment specialist and director of Sydney-based recruitment agency, Skills Savvy, she told us that employees today could expect to be made redundant at least once in their career, if not twice. One young job seeker she interviewed for a position had been made redundant three times in almost as many years.

There was a time when to be made redundant reflected poorly on your skills, capabilities and desirability as an employee. Today, however, that’s no longer the case. In fact, there are many positive sides to being made redundant; we’re going to take a look at just some of them here:

1. Firstly, no one makes you redundant: this is an important thing to remember: you weren’t made redundant; your position was. It’s not personal, it’s just business. Accept that and go forth into the world of employment.

2. Why did you leave?: now when you’re asked that question during an interview with a prospective employer, you don’t have to try and romanticize or find the silver lining in the fact that you couldn’t stand working for your former employer a minute longer. Your position was made redundant. The business was restructuring, and there was cutback in your department. It happens. Employers get that.

3. It gives you the opportunity to do something new: it could be a new job, a new experience, or a new business startup, but with a redundancy payout comes the financial opportunity to do something new. In fact, it’s often after a redundancy that many people decide to go into business for themselves, as an article on the Sydney Morning Herald website last year found.

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So if you’ve been made redundant, it’s time to polish up your skill set — and your CV — by taking course with us. You may also be interested in starting a home-based business as an independent contractor so you can work your own hours close to home. And remember: there’s nothing dirty about a redundancy.

Get THAT Job this Year: The Importance of the Cover Letter

Your covering letter is as important as your CV.
Getting your covering letter right is as important as your CV.

January is when we’re busiest processing enrolments in our MYOB courses, our Small Business Management courses and so on, and we’ve always been happy to be able to provide people with the training they need to make the career change they’ve been dreaming of. This January we also wanted to give you some advice on the two most dreaded aspects of applying for a new job: CVs and cover letters.

In a recent post we spoke to Fiona Neumann, a recruitment specialist and the director of Skills Savvy, a Sydney-based recruitment firm that specialises in helping people to re-enter the workforce following redundancies, raising the kids, or simply because they want to make a career change.

Fiona helped demystify the CV-writing process, which at one time or another has puzzled even the best of us. But in a job market where redundancies are almost commonplace, writing a CV is not just puzzling, it’s very often daunting, particularly for those people starting their career afresh.

Writing a Cover Letter Doesn’t Need to be Daunting!

But here’s the good news: it doesn’t need to be. Getting the job of your dreams has a lot to do with your ability to articulate yourself, which is where the cover letter comes into play.

It’s fair to say that many people see a cover letter as an afterthought; the way people see wrapping paper as the afterthought to a great gift. They spend all their time laboriously writing and fine-tuning their CV, to then put together a slap-dash covering letter just so that Seek will accept their job application.

Mistake. Big one.

Linking Back and Clarifying Your CV

Your cover letter is just as important as your CV. Aside from reinforcing all the information you’ve put into your CV, it shows that you didn’t mean to apply to some other job listed on Gumtree, and importantly, it allows you to show a recruiter or hiring manager why you’re suddenly looking to re-enter the workforce after several years of being out of it.

The key here is to be clear and concise. If you’ve been raising the kids for the last six years, write that. Don’t be vague and allude to something that could be interpreted as raising children or… being in prison.

But also don’t write a flowery vignette of your life. You need to show why you’re applying for the job you are; if it involves are change of field or industry, then explain why; why you’re qualified for the job, but not overqualified—this is important, because people that are overqualified are, to an employer, risky: you could get bored and leave, want more money than they can offer, or have difficulty with authority being that you’ve always been The Authority.

But remember: be clear and concise. And above all: don’t be bland. Recruiters read through hundreds of cover letters; they’re looking for the most qualified, most desirable person for the job. Don’t leave them wondering why you applied for the position you did. For some CV-writing help see this post; for help up-skilling, see the training courses we have on offer here.

Recruiter Tells: What Will Make Your CV Get Noticed

Find out what a recruiter has to say about how to make your CV stand out from the crowd.
Find out what a recruiter has to say about how to make your CV stand out from the crowd.

If one of your resolutions was to find a new job this year, you’re probably not alone. Job seekers are most active during the early part of a new year, so if you’re planning on taking the next step in your career, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd.

Our Small Business Management and MYOB Training courses are most popular this time of year because training courses up your skill-sets and are a key way of ensuring you’re a cut above the competition. However, that’s only as long as you’ve got your CV in front of the right people.

This makes the role of your CV an extremely important one; a lack lustre CV can often be a deal-breaker for a recruiter at the other end of an email address filling up with enough CVs to blanket Siberia — twice.

What Makes Your CV Stand Out?

So what’s going to make your CV the one recruiters and employers shortlist for an interview? We spoke to recruitment specialist and director of Skills Savvy, Fiona Neumann, to get some insight on design, whether or not everyone embellishes on their CV, and what you should put in the dreaded “special interests” section.

Q: What are some dos and don’ts when it comes to formatting, layout, design, etc? Some people think the more creative the CV, the better chance you’ll have of standing out from the pack – is this necessarily true?

Fiona: There is no rule of thumb on what you should or shouldn’t do. It really depends on the job you’re applying for. For example: If you are applying for a graphic designer role or another artistic role, then the recruiter will definitely be looking for a CV that stands out in a creative way. If it is a sales or service role then some candidates can be a little creative by adding their profile picture to the top of the CV. I personally like this, as long as it is a professional photo. This is a great way to stand out.

Q: Should your CV (and cover letter) show a bit of your personality, or is it safer to save that for the interview?

Fiona: I believe your personality comes through via your cover letter and your CV in subtle ways. When candidates place their photo at the top of their CV, this demonstrates that they are willing to put themselves out there and it shows confidence. The language a person uses also shows their personality. These are subtle ways. If your CV and cover letter is written in a way that articulates why you are the best person for the role then a recruiter will call you. A phone interview and a face-to-face interview is where the recruiter/hiring manager will see your personality.

Q: Embellishing your CV – does everyone really do it? And if so, where does that leave the honest jobseekers?

Fiona: Great question. No I don’t believe that everyone embellishes on their CV. Besides, a great recruiter is able to read between the lines and ask the candidate the right questions. The recruiter can then work out what is fact and what is fiction. A CV is important, but it is only one part of the recruitment process. If a person has written something on their CV then they will need to be able to answer questions during a phone interview or a face-to-face interview to back up their CV — and if they’ve embellished or lied in their CV, they probably won’t be able to answer the recruiter’s questions.

Q: Lastly, does any recruiter/employer really care that your interests include collecting antique teacups and reading crime novels?

Fiona: I personally like it [the special interests section], because you never know what the hiring manager may be looking for. Plus, including your interests does, in a subtle way, demonstrate personality, which helps recruiters and hiring managers determine whether you’d fit with the culture of an organisation. Take these two different examples of special interests: “I enjoy spending weekends with my family, going out for dinner and reading books,” and “I love to party, going to see live bands and watching Formula 1 racing.” There is no right or wrong answer, but you can see you are probably dealing with two completely different personalities, and while I would never discount someone based only on their special interests, it does tell me a little more about the person behind the CV.

Need a resume or want to start a home based business?

The lovely people from Workface have combined their resume writing service with our online Microsoft Word training courses so you can have a professional resume AND the ability to add and edit it as you need. If you are interested in starting your own business as an independent contractor and work your own hours, close to home and doing something you love you might consider one of these business opportunities..

LinkedIn Profiles: What Not To Do

620_300_cropIf you are like me, or pretty much any other living, breathing person on the planet with access to the Internet, then you’ve probably Googled someone in the last 24 hours.

Actually, I Googled someone while writing this post; had a gander at their LinkedIn profile and then went about the rest of my business.

I’ve mentioned previously how a LinkedIn profile works in shaping a person’s opinion of you, but how do you ensure it’s shaping a person’s opinion of you in the right way?

Getting Mileage Out of Your LinkedIn Profile

If you’re a jobseeker and you need to overhaul your LinkedIn profile, then some things to avoid:

Lying: Lie on your resume à la ex-Yahoo CEO, Scott Thomson, and you’re running the gamut of being found out at some point; lie on your LinkedIn profile and you will definitely get found out (either by a colleague or former employer), but lie on your CV and not your LinkedIn profile: now you’re not only a liar, you’re also a stupid one!

It’s simple: don’t lie. Ever.

Too many recommendations: if a prospective employer is scoping you out — perhaps to verify some of the claims in your CV or interview — and you don’t have any recommendations it’s likely they’ll consider you a dud networker, or worse: a dud employee.

To remedy this, send out a few recommendation requests. But don’t overdo it (when you’re job hunting, for example) — a slew of recommendations all at once makes it obvious you’re job hunting, which your current employer may not think too highly of.

Your job description is vague: maybe you think it’s mysterious, but vague or ambiguous statements in your job description is just plain elusive, and it makes you seem as though you’ve something to hide. Like maybe you’re not as fabulous as you let on you are.

The statement “assisted with the grand opening of a new store” could mean anything. For all we know, you could have put out the plastic cups people were drinking their complementary bubbles from. Instead, write what you actually did. No matter how small the task was.

No photo: this isn’t a beauty contest, nor is it the correct medium to post a picture of yourself drinking from a seven-foot beer bong. But the option to upload a picture is there for a reason.

A picture tells a thousand words and like it or not, visuals are important. If they weren’t, we’d never have to go for an actual job interview.

Ambiguous keywords: choose your keywords wisely; avoid overused buzzwords like “proven track record” or “team-player”. They may sound impressive (to you) but they really aren’t.

Instead of saying you have a proven track record in sales, show people what that proven track record was — if you pitched and won a multi-million dollar account for your company, say that. This turns an empty statement into a quantifiable accomplishment.

We work with professional partners that help combine our online training courses with services that help you to improve your chances of employability, or hone their talents and skills for running a small business. If you’re new to LinkedIn, we’ve discussed in a previous post how you can use your LinkedIn profile as your resume to find work. If you are looking for opportunities to become an independent contractor and operate your own business from home see the business opportunities at Workface.

4 Common Resume Mistakes to AVOID

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 3.00.16 PMThe average employer or HR department spends approximately 35 seconds on each resume or CV before deciding to toss it in the “NO” pile or read on. Some employers are not even doing this, opting for technology to search your CV for them.

Resume Mistake #1: No Goal

The most important part of your CV or resume is your goal or objective. People often dwell on spelling and punctuation errors being the most important thing, and while it’s an important consideration, if you’re really serious about a position, then checking for these should be instinctive.

Most people leave writing their objective until the rest of their CV or resume is done. Then they often write a one-size-fits-all, generic summary of the kind of position they’re looking for that’s then regurgitated for each job they apply for. Big mistake! This is the only part of your CV that tells a prospective employer what you’re looking for — use this space wisely.

Resume Mistake #2: Leaving the Reader To Guess What You’ve Done

Don’t wax lyrical about “challenging work environments” and “putting your creativity to good use” — these aren’t quantifiable objectives; save them for your interview.

For example, if you’re applying for a position as a computer engineer, tell them why you want that position and why you’re suited to it, referring to your previous work history. This will get the reader far more interested in your CV.

Also people are often too ambiguous with the actual wording they use. Don’t use vague statements like “assisted with” or “handled” — these leave the reader wondering what you actually did.

Your CV should tell employers exactly what your role was — if you wrote and distributed press releases to national media outlets, tell employers that.

But don’t fall into the “my responsibilities involved” or “my duties included” trap — these outline your job description, not how capable you were at your job.

The sentence:

My duties included writing and distributing press releases to national media outlets to publicise the national launch of Revlon’s midnight red lipstick.

would have more impact if it was written as:

To publicise the national launch of Midnight Red lipstick, I wrote and distributed press releases to various media outlets, resulting in national coverage in The Weekend Australian and the Nine National News.

Here, people can see that you’re actually (very) competent at your job.

Resume Mistake #3: Not Using Bullet Points

If you’ve worked somewhere for several years, chances are you did a lot more than write one press release.

This is where writing a three-sentence description for each of your accomplishments becomes impractical —  and if you do, your resume is more likely to resemble War and Peace than a CV — a massive turn-off for recruiters.

Bullet points are not only easier to read, they’re also space savers, great for breaking up dense blocks of text.

  • Wrote and distributed press releases, resulting in national coverage for Midnight Red Lipstick in The Weekend Australian, Nine National News.

Resume Mistake #4: Getting the Length All Wrong

Then there’s the subject of much conjecture: resume length. Some people believe a resume shouldn’t be longer than one page. And in adhering to this rule, there are many resumes out here with an overwhelming amount of 9-point text crammed into one page.

As a general rule of thumb, if you have to choose between crammed-in text and another resume page, go with the latter.

White space is your friend! Use it liberally. There’s nothing more daunting than having to sit and read a page-full of dense text that leaves no safe place to rest the eye.

See more resume writing tips here, or perhaps you need to brush up your Microsoft Word skills for resume writing? Or if you need broader assistance generally with writing a CV or resume, see the services offered by our professional partners for resume writing services.

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The Skinny on Resume Writing

Basic do’s and don’t on resume writing

Resume writing to perfection
There’s an art to resume writing but it’s not rocket science.

The job market is tough; that much is true. But if you’ve been sending out your CV with very little response, the job market is only one part of the problem. It’s more than likely that your resume isn’t doing you any favours.

Keeping resume writing simple

Resume writing is about showing prospective employers why you are the best fit for a position and their organisation. It’s not about listing all the jobs you’ve ever had in the past — a café owner looking for a new barista is probably not interested in the three years you spent working in a corporate law firm.

When it comes to pointing out your experience, there are some basic do’s and don’t’s to resume writing. A resume shouldn’t be like a laboured novel; nor should it be so subtle in pointing out your experience that the reader is left to work out exactly how your experience applies to the position they need to fill — recruiters don’t have time for that.

And remember, the majority of companies today outsource the recruitment process to recruitment agencies that receive thousands of CVs and resumes on a daily basis for their large portfolio of clients. Even those companies that still  handle recruitment themselves will have extremely busy HR departments; even in large companies, often there’s only one person reviewing the abundant CVs they receive.

35 seconds to make your mark

When it comes to resume writing, you have to get them in quick! Being time poor and exceedingly busy, most recruiters only spend about 35 seconds on each CV or resume.

This means you have 35 seconds to convince a recruiter that it’s worth reading your CV further or, better still, getting you in for an interview.

You’ll achieve this if you:

  • Get to the point, but don’t be arrogant — this is a massive turn-off.
  • Don’t over-embellish: if you didn’t actually do something, don’t say you did — you will get found out.
  • Are concise: don’t cram your resume or CV full of interesting (to you) but ultimately irrelevant previous positions (like dog walker in 1982), achievements or interests (ferret racing is better kept to yourself).

But don’t see the minimalist approach as an opportunity to get fancy with the design of your CV.

Unless you actually are a designer of some sort, just use a clean template that clearly highlights why you’re the right person for the job. I once received a CV formatted like a crossword puzzle to list the person’s experience and education; clever perhaps, but the CV after that was easy to read and it was that person I called in for the interview.

To avoid the daunting task of resume writing from scratch each time you decide to change employment, you should get into the habit of updating your CV on a regular basis.

Need more help?

EzyLearn is in a great position to help you with your resume writing because we understand the employment market and the needs of employers. We also have team members with top quality resume writing skills and experience in creating quality resumes for administration and bookkeeping positions in particular. Other related blog posts: Finding a Job Using LinkedIn

If you’d like to share your job hunting experiences with us and others, please visit us our Facebook page — you can also let us know here if you need help with resume writing. We can also help you brush up your Microsoft Word skills for resume writing


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

LinkedIn Profiles: How Useful Are They, Really?

What is the power of a LinkedIn profile?

how useful is a linkedin profile online learning social media training
We scrutinise the power of a LinkedIn online social media profile.

THERE MAY BE SOME debate over whether having a LinkedIn profile actually helps professionals make valuable connections with other professionals, but the same could also be said of traditional networking.

As a writer, I probably should network more, but personally, I don’t find much value in it. In the past I have either fallen prey to someone wanting publicity for their pyramid-scheme-type business or I’ve turned into a borderline stalker myself; harassing someone who perhaps only gave me their business card out of a feeling of social obligation.

Besides, a business card tells you nothing about how competent or capable that person is at their job. For writers and journalists, I’ve always found it pretty easy to validate their claims on Google; for other professionals: not so much. Until LinkedIn, that is.

The Professionalism of LinkedIn

LinkedIn may not connect you with the recruiter of your dream job, but Twitter doesn’t guarantee you’ll become BFFs with Mariah Carey, either. What LinkedIn does, however, is give you an online professional profile.

And it’s the rather perverse nature of today’s digital society that makes an online professional presence invaluable; LinkedIn itself can act as your calling card, demonstrating how others endorse you and your work; it can act as your resume; and it can help you to actively find the right job.

The Power of a LinkedIn Profile

Any time you meet someone, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll Google you. Whether they’re prospective employers you’ve interviewed with, people you’ve met in a professional setting (clients, industry alums) or even colleagues, you can bet at some point or another they have Googled you.

What that Google search turns up can totally change the way they interact with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve LinkedIn-stalked a fellow writer only to discover their LinkedIn profile is not so impressive, after all. From this point on the entire dynamic of our relationship has changed immediately; suddenly I feel I’ve got the power.

On the other end of the scale, discovering the meek-mannered, unassuming but otherwise seemingly-unimpressive editor I chatted to with extreme ease is actually a former Vanity Fair staffer or contributor to The New Yorker adds another dimension to our relationship — usually, I’m putty in their hands.

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And it’s in this context that, yes, a LinkedIn profile does work. Whether you’re using LinkedIn as a job-hunter or a networker, your LinkedIn profile tells people everything they think they need to know about you.

The old phrase — first impressions are lasting impressions — is out. It’s online impressions that are the lasting impressions.

If you haven’t already, we welcome you to connect with EzyLearn at LinkedIn.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses.