In a competitive job market one mistake can cost you that dream PA position, so here are some pointers from the experts on how to avoid common recruitment no-nos.
Cover letters/email blunders
When addressing the selection criteria in a cover letter or email, it is important not to come across as overly picky about the work you are willing to do. Footprint Recruitment director Kristy-Lee Johnston said it was a good to have a clear idea of what you wanted out of your next role, but not to specify you would only work certain hours, at a particular location, or at a set pay rate. “It gives the employer the impression you are going to be a little bit difficult to manage and you’re not very flexible. All employers want someone who has some level of flexibility in the workplace,” Ms Johnston explained.
Recruiters will be looking for a higher standard of CV from a PA, advises head resume writer Kirsty Stewart from www.KirstyStewart.com.au. “If you have any spelling or grammatical errors this would be more costly for a PA than in almost any other field, because you are expected to have stronger written communication and computer skills than other staff,” Ms Stewart explained.
Stand out from other PAs with the same skills set by including achievements, special projects and how you demonstrated initiative in the workplace, illustrating these with practical examples. “A poor example is writing ‘Filing’, whereas ‘maintained the department record management systems’ is good, and ‘created and implemented new filing system, utilising Excel, which resulted in a 20 per cent increase in workload efficiency is better,” Ms Stewart said.
A PA’s resume should be around 2-3 pages (2 pages for 25 and under) with plenty of white space. If you’re unsure of what to leave out, Ms Stewart has some suggestions: “While being nominated school captain in primary school was a great honour, it’s not of great importance to your resume,” she explained.
Interview slip ups
Being late or not turning up without a phone call is an obvious no-no, as is discussing your previous employer in a negative light. “If there has been a conflict of interest or a personality clash, you can phrase that in a more diplomatic way such as, ‘I left because there was a different vision as to how work should be achieved and I decided it was best for me to move on to something that was more aligned to how I like to work’,” Ms Johnston explained.
Being dishonest in an interview is a fast-track to not getting the job. If an employer asks whether you used a certain computer system and you said you did, when you actually didn’t in that role, they may ask that question in a reference check and then you’d be caught out, Ms Johnston said. “It’s always best to be honest and say, ‘Whilst I didn’t use it in that role I used it another role’, or ‘I haven’t used it but I’m a quick learner, so I’m sure I will pick it up’.”
Being under prepared
If you don’t know anything about the job or the employer, this will show you in a bad light in comparison to the other candidates who have done their research. “You can check the company’s website, ask other people in the industry or Google them so you’re prepared should they ask you questions about what you know,” Ms Johnston explained.
Ensure your social media profiles are clean and appropriate because employers and recruiters do check them. “I know of an employer who did a social media check on someone she was about to hire and she was swearing and bagging out her current employer, so that cost her the job,” Ms Johnston said.
Publication: Executive PA