by Shamkoe Pilé
To gain employment in the competitive job market, applicants must effectively “sell themselves” even before they meet a potential employer face-to-face.
This is the advice that Labour Officer of the National Employment Bureau, Randy Clarke, gave to participants of the Tek Care of Yourself Workshop organised by the Internal HIV Education Committee of the Barbados Government Information Service for underemployed and unemployed women.
“Your first point of communication when you are applying for a job usually comes through a cover letter, résumé or curriculum vitae. And because the demand for jobs is so fierce, you must remember that those are the things that initially sell you,” Clarke said.
Warning the participants to avoid using personal emails for business, he emphasised that email addresses should be professional and consist of the applicant’s name.
“Do not send in an application with your email address saying something like ‘sexygirl’, ‘ruffman’, ‘brighteyes’, or ‘missthickysweets’. No employer today accepts that kind of thing, and, your application will be immediately disregarded if you do that,” Clarke warned.
He continued: “If your cover letter, r?sum? or curriculum vitae are done poorly or they are hand written, they will be immediately disregarded as well.”
Acknowledging that there were persons who did not have access to a computer, he said that this was no excuse as the NEB provided assistance to persons who needed cover letters, r?sum?s or curriculum vitae prepared.
Clarke stressed that it was important to submit the exact information that the potential employer had requested.
“Knowing the fundamental differences between a r?sum? and a curriculum vitae could either enhance or jeopardise your chances of an interview. So, if you sent in a CV when the company asked for a r?sum?, you already put yourself at a big disadvantage,” he pointed out.
According to the labour officer: “[Simply put], a r?sum? is one page long, short, concise and to the point”. He said it should list in bullet points the applicant’s career objectives, employment history, job description, educational background, references and contact information.
“Unlike the r?sum?, a CV requires more detail,” Clarke said. This document should include employment history, educational background, references, the applicant’s achievements, interests, and volunteer initiatives.
“Your job responsibilities and the qualifications you achieved at your past schools should also be fleshed out,” he said, adding that for both the r?sum? and CV, the last school and workplace attended should be listed first.
Regarding the cover letter, the NEB official stressed that this document should be done in “full block style”. He explained that this meant the date, address and salutation should all be on the left hand side of the page adding: “What most people learnt in school years ago is now outdated.”
He also advised against addressing cover letters with the salutation “To Whom it may concern”.
Instead, he recommended that persons call to find out the name of the human resource manager or the head of the organisation and address the letter to him/her instead.
Further advising that all documents should be clean and consistent in appearance, Clarke said: “If you have been called into an interview, you know that you made it past step one.”
The first Tek Care of Yourself Workshop also included sessions on HIV and AIDS 101, Personal Empowerment and Make Up Artistry for work.