The first step is polishing your resume so that your qualifications shine. Take a look at your resume and make sure you have these basics covered.

• You need to strike a balance between giving too much information and not enough
• Career objectives should not be over-achievable
• Don't forget your home and mobile phone numbers
• References may be given or stated ‘Upon Request’. Optional.

Your resume is a profile of your career and working history first and foremost. More than that, it is also a thumbnail profile of you, the individual. Include a brief outline of your attributes and abilities that go towards making you the person you are. It might sound irrelevant, but don’t forget to say something about your personal interests and hobbies. It all paints a picture.

Specify your educational standard, particularly if you have tertiary qualifications. Address qualifications or courses that relate to the job on offer.

If there are gaps in your working career, explain them. It may be you took maternity leave, or were hospitalised for some time. Or it may be that you simply took an extended break. A sabbatical, so to speak. Cover the gaps or you will raise unnecessary questions in the employer’s or consultant’s mind.

Stating your date of birth is entirely optional. If you think the employer is seeking someone young, and you are young, then include it. Conversely, if you feel the employer is looking for someone of a more mature age, and that is you, then state it. Gauge the advertisement carefully. If in doubt….leave it out!

Address the selection criteria! This is vitally important. Sending a resume that bears no resemblance to the role being advertised is a waste of time. Read the advertisement carefully, and even if the selection criteria is not specifically stated as such, you should be able to ascertain what the employer is looking for in a candidate. When you are sure you understand the selection criteria, it is essential that you address it in your covering application letter, and/or revise your resume accordingly. Let the employer or consultant know that you know what is being sought.

More about the covering letter of application. Many people don’t bother, but they are neglecting a perfect opportunity to connect with the employer or recruitment consultant. It is your opportunity to explain why you are applying for the role on offer, and why you believe you are an ideal candidate. A word of caution here. Don’t go “over the top.” Keep it concise, to the point, and above all be truthful! The covering letter is your golden opportunity to sell yourself, and may well be the difference between obtaining an interview and failing.

Pay attention to detail. Proof read your letter and resume and don’t rely solely of “spell check”. Nothing is more off putting than a resume full of errors. And finally, where it is given, be sure to address the employer or consultant by his or her correct name. Sound ridiculous? You have no idea how many times wrong names appear on covering letters! Remember - a resume is a quick snapshot of your strengths and accomplishments. It has to say ‘HIRE ME, I am right for this job’.