Resume and cover letter fails

Application Fails: What NOT to Put in Your Resume and Cover Letter

Do yourself a favour: leave the weird, the wacky and the not so wonderful out of your resume.

Application fails. Every recruiter has one. The resume that contains content so weird, so wacky and so out there that you can only sit there in shock that someone bothered to send it in.  So today I am going to give you some advice on what NOT to put in your resume.

Firstly, let’s start with interests.  Do you put them in or not?  The answer, in principle, is yes.  But please think about what you are going to include.  We all like going to the movies, socialising with friends and reading.  Those interests are so generic that they are like white noise on your resume.  They add absolutely no value.  But then even those are better than the bizarre and the weird – like the resume I saw once that included the following interest “playing with my hair.” You know, if the person had been going for a job as a trainee hairdresser, that might have been just fine – but when the job you have applied for is an EA to a general manager, maybe not so much.  And here is another fabulous example: “Interests: eating.” I wonder if they were tempted to include “breathing” too?

So please DO include interests in your resume IF you think they will add real value.  Leave out the watching movies bit and include your passion for sky diving or snorkelling or playing touch football.  If you don’t have anything particularly interesting to include, leave the interests out of your resume altogether.  Better that than having a potential employer scratching their head in bemusement at your passion for playing with your hair.

Now, moving on – let’s talk about your email address.  We all have them.  And once we set them up, we probably never think about them again.  But a stupid email address completely ruins the beautifully presented resume filled with lots of lovely positive things. I mean if your email address is pornstar69@… well that’s going to raise a few eyebrows.  So take a moment to think about that, if your email address sounded funny and a bit risqué when you set it up at high school, there is a good chance you don’t want to be using it for applying for new jobs.  So do yourself a favour, and set up a good professional looking email address that you specifically use during your job hunt.  Keep the washyourbits@ or the dropdeadsexy@ email addresses for home.

Grammar.  It turns out that “grammar” is not a reference to your grandmother.  I know! Go figure.   I am talking about the people who can’t be bothered with capital letters, full stops or spell check.  You don’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to put together a document with those basics. And, whilst this makes me laugh until I cry, please do NOT use words or phrases you seriously don’t understand.  Just recently we had someone use the phrase “failed to use enough pseudo-reality…” and OK, that was in an interview, not a resume, but you get my point, right?  If you DON’T know what the word pseudo means, leave it out of your vocabulary.  You are only going to confuse and amuse.

Application grammar

And don’t use weird words that you have clearly found in some obscure reference book covered in dust and mould.  If the person reading your cover letter will have NO idea what it means, then they are going to ignore what you are saying.  Using big, convoluted words does not equal smart or appealing – unless they relate specifically to a technical role you are applying for.

Lastly, we know that many applicants have negative experiences when they are applying for jobs: the times you never hear back, get rejected instantly and are fobbed off by employers and recruiters alike.  And we know that this is frustrating and hurtful.  Believe me, we DO actually know it.  But if you use your application/cover letter as an opportunity to say how much you hate recruiters and how you have applied for 200 jobs but only heard back from 13 and how recruiters are all “indecent b**t**s,” you are going to continue to get that “Thank you for applying…” reject email.  You might think you are going to make someone feel guilty enough to see you and give you a job, but that employer/recruiter is just going to have a voice in their head that says, “Clearly there is a reason you are still unemployed.”  So don’t do it.  You won’t get anywhere if you do.

Some of you are going to think I have been harsh here, but the fact is people who review resumes look for reasons to exclude your application as much as include it.  If you include the stupid, the bizarre, the offensive and the weird in your cover letter/resume, you have just handed them a reason to reject you and focus on someone else.

And good luck out there!  Here’s hoping you get the perfect job with a well-worded resume (and sane email address).

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Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson

Shared Services Manager at people2people
Lisa has been working in the recruitment industry since 1996, working in administration and payroll processing, temporary and permanent recruitment for accounting and finance professionals. In February 2007, Lisa joined onsiite, the RPO subsidiary of people2people, having worked with and known the Directors since 2000. Lisa now manages the shared services and administration division for people2people and onsiite.


  1. Carolyn O'Brien says:

    Thank you for all your clear and concise helpful tips. Carolyn

  2. Elizabeta Fermanov says:

    Dear Mrs Johnson,

    While I was reading your article I truly and honestly felt hurt and dumbfounded. I remember applying for an entry level accounts position through and their reply was I did not meet the employer’s criteria.

    I finished my advanced diploma in accounting at TAFE NSW last year in December, and ever since I have not been able to secure myself a job. In spite of having a varied work experience overseas and holding a BA degree in Arts in English, with great computer and communication skills, I always get rejected on the grounds of no prior experience.

    Now prove me wrong, but isn’t one experienced unless they have held a job for some time, and to get such experience one MUST be given a job based on their comprehensive knowledge gained school and everyday communication with the community and use of latest technology?

    I have never included any ”silly” and ”polished” words and phrases in my resume and have always endeavored to appropriately and truthfully address selection criteria. I admit I have not had experience in accounting, but unless someone gives me that opportunity to work for them, I see no way in getting actual experience.

    It would be an honour to hear from you with your expertise what could be done about a highly educated individual who is looking to change career to get them back into the workforce and out of he fangs of the doe system?

    I am looking forward to your expert advice and I hope that would get me a Jo.


    Mrs Elizabeta FERMANOV

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


      Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. Without having seen your resume or talked to you in more detail about your previous experience and the kind of work you are looking for, I am afraid my advice is probably going to be a bit generalised, but hopefully still useful. Firstly, I am going to start off by saying that not everyone who gets ‘rejected’ for a role is rejected because they make silly mistakes in their resumes.

      For most roles, our clients demand a certain level of experience from the candidates. That is why they come to a recruitment consultancy – so that we can source the most appropriate candidate in terms of experience and culture fit. When you apply for a job where there are ‘accounts’ duties involved you have to remember that you are competing directly against other applicants who have more practical experience than you do.

      So the best thing is to work around the issue of your lack of practical experience. For example, let’s assume that you have very good administration or reception experience. You can use this experience to gain a role in a company that can offer you the opportunity to develop those accounts skills. There are a lot of small to medium sized businesses who want someone who has the capacity to do more than their current job. The key is to capitalise on the experience you do have in order to generate the opportunities that you want in the future.

      I hope this helps a little, and if you would like more specific advice from one of our consultants, let me know.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Lisa, I am the same as Elizabeta in the fact I am dumbfounded. Since March this year I have been seeking a permanent legal secretarial role to no avail. I have many years legal experience, a sensible email address, a typing speed of 90-100 wpm, excellent MS Word skills, perfect spelling and grammar, professional presentation yet now mid-November I still do not have a permanent job. Temporary wirk has been spasmodic at best.

        What is utterly frustrating and hurtful is the fact I so frequently see good roles that I would be suited for advertised through P2P and other agencies, yet the consultants never contact me.

        Can you or anyone else shed some lght on this as it baffles me.


        • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

          Hi Karen,

          I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment on this blog. Firstly, I have asked one of our Legal Support Specialists to give you a call and to follow up.

          I always like to tell candidates that its a great idea if they are the ones who drive their job search. If you have not heard from the recruiter, please pick up the phone and call them. So often recruiters talk about how great their systems are, how wonderful their processes are and so on, but in the end our business is about people. It’s that connection that is going to make the difference between you, us and the client having a good experience. To get that connection, we have to talk. No letter, email, tweet, post or picture can replace a real person to person conversation.

          When dealing with any recruitment business, you should call regularly. Remind them that you are looking, let them know if your circumstances have changed, or if you would like to consider something different. These conversations, even if they are two minutes long WILL make a difference. And listen to your recruiter too – ask them about the market, ask them for an honest appraisal of your suitability for a role and understand that not one of us is perfect for every job.

          Good luck Karen, and let me know if you don’t hear from one of our consultants very shortly.

  3. Mark Ziegler says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Appreciate the information.

    Also, I find as a tip to readers is only include what is relevant to the position. I have performed over 20 roles and have had 5 positions at once. Now I have only 2 roles with my main role being Monday to Friday with the occasional Saturday, and the other is a hobby that lets me travel which I only do approx 6 weeks a year.

    Facebook postings is another way to let people know you are looking for work. I have recruited 2 roles in my own company that I work for by letting them know of available positions. Social media is a great way to get out there and people cannot survive without it.

    As you get older you also need to remember that roles become harder to obtain I find. My wife who works part time for a photography company is finding it hard to get more work. Her old boss use to threaten her that she can always get a junior to do the work as she has question her pay.

    I also find you have to be flexible in finding work. In the US quite often people travel interstate to get work they want.

    If you have any roles for mature age in customer service or admin who I find are very loyal, please let myself know by email.



    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comments.

      I agree with you, social media is becoming more and more useful in the recruitment process, both from the candidate, the employer AND the recruiters’ point of view. Interestingly though, I think it can be a double edged sword. On one hand, asking your connections on Facebook if they can recommend someone for a role is a great idea – they will only recommend people that they like and whom they believe will do a good job. The old adage ‘good people know good people’ works! The flip side is where individuals have public Facebook accounts and where potential employers are making judgements on that persons ability to do a job based on the content of the person’s Facebook page.

      In relation to your comments about roles becoming harder to find the older you are, I have to say that it is not as bad as it used to be. I remember when I started in recruitment (a million years ago) it was like Logan’s Run: a candidate hits a certain age and it’s the end of the line! But now it is more about the skills and confidence using systems. And there are employers who do recognise the benefit of life experience too.

      Flexibility is the key to everything! Candidates need to be flexible in terms of considering opportunities that they may not have previously considered, whether that is a different location, a different job title or working for a new industry. Clients need to be flexible in terms of understanding that we ARE experiencing skills shortages in Australia and whilst its a great idea to have your ‘ideal’ candidate in mind, it can be almost impossible to get that person if you are not paying enough, if your location is wrong and if the industry is challenging. Those clients need to consider ‘flexing the job spec’ and consider the younger person hungry for an opportunity to step up or the mature worker looking to step back into a less stressful job. Both options offer huge benefits to the organisation.

      I have emailed you re your last comment. We are always happy to talk to loyal, experienced, hard working individuals with customer service and administration experience! Even if there is not a role available today, I am sure that either myself or one of our consultants can let you know what the market is doing and talk through your specific requirements.

      Thanks again for your comments,

  4. […] we received an email in response to one of our blog posts, Application Fails: What NOT to Put in Your Resume and Cover Letter, where an active jobseeker was concerned about the response he was getting to his applications. He […]

  5. Deepak says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Have been facing the same issue as Elizabeta I finished my PG in 2010 am 28 now have tried in the past 3 years for a position, most recruiters are not even courteous enough to reply, but the once which did always say I was overqualified or didn’t had prior experience, moreover I have been working as a part-time bookkeeper for almost 4 years on and off. They say that bookkeeping is not relevant to accounting.I believe that bookkeeping is the very basis of accounting in most of the accounting firms. Well I don’t know what other way to approach for a job, I am interested in Project management accounting or management accounting. Is there any way that you could help me?
    Any approach that I must follow to achieve my dream job ?

    Thanks & Regards

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


      Thank you for your comments. Without having seen your resume or examined the roles that you are applying for, I think the issue could be that you are applying for the kind of jobs that you WANT to do, not necessarily what you have done.

      Most employers are going to look for a certain level of experience – especially if they are paying a recruitment consultancy to source that candidate. If you are applying for project or management accounting roles and your practical experience to date is part time bookkeeping roles, you will find it very challenging.

      As I said to Elizabeta, the key is to use the strengths and experience you DO have to find a company where you can develop the skills to do the work that you want to do. Small to Medium sized businesses will often need a ‘jack of all trades’ where you can develop a broader exposure to the accounting function. Or you could choose to target a particular company that attracts you and consider starting at a clerical / assistant financial accountant level to gain experience working in a larger company.

      Overall, you should remember that it can take time to find the right role with the right company. Make sure your resume details your experience and make sure you apply for appropriate roles where you are more likely to get interest from recruiters and/or employers alike. Check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors, and if you use a cover letter make sure you target it specifically to the job you are applying for and detail exactly why you have the skills and experience to fill the vacancy.

      And think outside the square – make sure you have a LinkedIn profile and that it is up to date. Search job vacancies on LinkedIn as well as the online job boards like SEEK.


  6. Naomi Boyd says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write your post, Lisa. I thought your point that ‘people who review resumes look for reasons to exclude your application as much as include it’ was especially salient & helpful to keep in mind.

  7. Stuart says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I’ve been an Accountant for 10 years plus.
    How do you overcome the perception problems of being unemployed around the 12 month mark. I’ve had several knock backs in the past 3 months (down to the last 3 or 4) and the feedback has been the client and organisation have felt more comfortable with a person who is working or recently working.
    I am also noticing and it’s beginning to creep into advertised positions ; ‘actively operating in a similar role’.
    Any advice?

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Hi Stuart,

      This is a challenging problem, but not impossible to overcome. Firstly, when someone looks at your resume they will look for gaps in your employment history. If you have a resume that says you have stopped working 12 months ago and there is nothing to indicate what you have been doing since finishing, there may be the perception that you are in some way unemployable. You should overcome this by making it clear that you have been busy – whether you were travelling, doing renovations to property or so on.

      Then, in terms of competing with applicants who are already working – you ARE in some ways on the back foot because the recruiter or potential employer KNOWS that the other person is employable because they have a job. But there are two sides to every coin – your advantage is that you are immediately available. That can be a very attractive prospect to an employer swamped with work. I have to say I don’t think I have ever seen the term “actively operating in a similar role” in an advertisement, but I believe you when you say it happens. Often the demand for current employment will be as a result of systems (ie experience using the latest version of the FMIS) but can also be relevant if the role requires someone who is experienced with recent legislation changes. But mostly, the employer just needs to be confident that you can actually do the job.

      For someone in your situation, I would highly recommend you consider temporary roles. Employers are often considerably more flexible for short term temporary vacancies and recruiters are also more likely to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you haven’t done. And temping is a great way of gaining experience in different industries and potentially updating your systems skills – which in the end, makes you resume more attractive to other employers.

      Review your resume- make sure you detail your skills and experience so potential employers know you have practical experience. Make sure you add in some information on what you have been doing for the last year so that nobody thinks you have spent the last year on the run from the authorities, and talk to the agencies you are dealing with about temporary work.

      Good luck Stuart :-)


  8. Bilal says:

    This is very helpful article. You have picked the most repeated mistakes made in resume. I also think that interest field in a resume is quite generic. It shouldn’t be included. Email must include the original name of the applicant. All in all, these were useful guidelines.

  9. Giordano says:

    Hello Lisa,

    I put to you, for your consideration, that the underlying problem with job seeking today is the invention and widespread proliferation of professional recruitment agencies.

    Kind Regards,


    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


      I know it must seem that way at times. But the recruitment industry is not new; professional services firms started offering recruitment services way back in the 30’s. And whilst there are certainly a lot of consultancies around now, I would like to think that we are not here to stop you getting a job, but we here to help you get the right one.

      Recruitment agencies provide a service. If there weren’t a demand, we wouldn’t be in business. And despite the fact that it may seem biased towards the employer (they are the ones that pay for our service after all), the reality is that the candidate is as important to our business as the client. If we cannot attract and identify great candidates, we are not going to fill our client vacancies.

      Try not to think of us as a road-block to your success. If you think your background matches the job advertisement, pick up the phone and call the consultant. A good recruiter is going to take the time to talk to you about your background and what you are looking for. At the end of that conversation both of you are going to have a better idea of your suitability for the role and the company.

      They key for you is to find a recruitment consultant you can work with. We are not all created equal, and if you feel you are being treated unprofessionally, you should move on and find another consultancy or recruiter to deal with. I remember many years ago there was a consultancy that had a huge monopoly of the market (in the area I specialised in) and I would always ask clients and candidates why they chose to deal with that consultancy and the answer was almost always, “They have all the candidates,” or, “They have all the jobs.” That was never true then and it is certainly not true now — you should not feel forced to deal with a recruitment consultancy that treats you badly.


  10. Marie Porquez says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I really fnd your advices very helpful. May I know you email address?



  11. Surendra says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Its good to hear & listen to various views expressed by different people in this article. As u said that employers looks for gaps & various things before selecting/rejecting the candidate for the job.

    I am too going through same circumstance with many years of gap but with genuine reasons which doesn’t make any difference to the employers as there is always some one down there to take up the Job with better qualification, skills & experience.

    After resigning from my last overseas gulf job of Accounts & Audit, i never applied for any job. I was going through personal crises which affected me a lot & at this point of time all i need to do is start from scratch & work hard to regain. What really matters is the quality work & output i provide at the end of the day. Things move on & you have update yourself with latest trends, knowledge and requirement of the industry. I am a graduate & had experience in the field of Sales, Stores & Logistic, Accounting, Auditing but have a gap of many year.

    Appreciate your advice in this matter.



    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


      Your situation is not unique, but is challenging. Firstly, make sure your resume details your experience and systems skills. In a situation like yours it is a good idea to provide MORE detail than less. Do not, however, ignore the gap in your employment history. To overcome employer and recruiter reluctance, you are going to have to provide an explanation for why you have been out of work for so long. You should provide a logical explanation for why you have not looked for or worked during that period, but this explanation needs to be worded in a positive way.

      In terms of career advice – I will be honest and say you are going to find it harder than some others to find work. That gap will put off recruiters and employers alike. As I suggested to Stuart, I would recommend that you start off with temporary work, and for you, realistically at a much lower level than what you are probably capable of – think telephone customer service, think sales support or fairly straight forward accounts clerical work. If need be, tailor you resume to different roles ie focus on your customer service skills and experience if applying for those roles rather than using one generic resume. Be flexible in terms of what you look at, and be positive. Remember the goal for you is to re establish a consistent work history. And like the advertisement says “it wont happen overnight but it will happen.” Well I hope it does!

      Good luck.

  12. Rashmi says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Can I please have your email address, it is very interesting article
    Thank you

  13. Vijay says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Thank you very much for your time and tips.
    I am changing my career path after several years in middle management.
    Can I please send my resume to you for a critical review, if your time permits.
    Thank you.

  14. Giordano says:

    Hi Lisa,

    …In the true HR/RA tradition you have missed my point. In this day and age of the internet and virtually instant communications/gratification employers have become too lazy to process candidates themselves whether there are 3 or 300 . The size or capitalization of the company is immaterial too. Small companies are just as eager to secure the services of an external recruiting agent.

    The mindset of many executives seems to be that it’s a lot easier to pay a ‘middleman’ to manage the potential discomfort of the interview, preferring to spend other peoples money to insulate themselves from such a ‘demeaning confrontation’. One would have to embark on a careful economic analysis of whether, or not, there is any substantial, long-term economic and human factors benefit to corporations persisting in their current practices.

    I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones who’ve never had problems dealing with ‘third parties’. But that doesn’t insulate me from the less-than complimentary (to the RA profession) anecdotes of both colleagues and friends, past and present.

    But I’m confident that the current trend will start to reverse as companies will eventually see ‘the light’ and will begin to realize the benefit (from a human and commercial perspective) in relying, more and more, on providing in-house recruitment, with all the benefits that a personal touch affords employees in terms of workplace suitability and satisfaction.

    To draw on an analogy, we are already witnessing a trend occurring, in the computing and in the IT sector, with a move away from third party software vendors/consultants model to the availability of applications software-as-a-service directly from the developers, in the ‘cloud’.

    Kind Regards


    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


      There has certainly been a rise in large companies moving towards either an internal recruiting team function or outsourcing to RPO specialists and like you, I can see this trend continuing in the near future. From an internal recruitment perspective, the business is aiming for exactly what you suggest – a more cohesive experience for line managers and candidates and ideally significant cost savings. But it is naive to think that internal recruitment teams will replace the need for third party recruitment support altogether. And here is why:

      Many companies do not invest in the right systems to support the internal recruitment team. Often the systems they are using are good at capturing applications, but lack the capacity to manage the candidate past that one application (ie implement ongoing communication strategies, have good search engines etc). This means that many internal recruitment teams are faced with systems that only allow them to manage the candidates who apply for a specific role at a specific time. Recruitment consultancies, on the other hand, invest serious money in systems that allow them to not only capture candidate details, but to search them, develop ongoing communication strategies and to (ideally) work with that candidate over the long term, and across multiple roles and employers.

      Few companies develop a team that allows their internal recruitment staff to specialise. Many internal recruitment consultants are required to adequately recruit sales, senior management, operational, support and finance staff all at the same time. This is very challenging – you might be an expert in recruiting accounting staff for example and then someone wants you to recruit a Warehouse Manager. Different skill set, different competencies and different personalities required. This is hard to do and hard to do well.

      So I firmly believe that there will always be a demand for specialist recruitment skills. Where you have developed subject knowledge, have a network of experienced candidates and where you can add value to the client / hiring manager through your ability to truly understand the requirements for the role, then you have a place in the recruitment industry.

      As the saying goes ‘we live in interesting times’ and whilst I agree with you that there are challenging times ahead for the recruitment industry, I also believe that there is always going to be room for ethical, empathetic, experienced professionals who can truly add value to the recruitment experience for both employer and future employee.


  15. Zumra says:

    Hi Lisa,

    As with many of the others in this blog I have been faced with many of the challenges mentioned. I have completed many temporary contract roles in the past, some which have extended to two years long. So showing commitment isn’t a problem but I am still unable to break out of the contract mould and into a permanent role. It has been a good way to keep current and offered the flexibility I needed whilst studying and raising a family.

    I am now ready to take on a challenging role wether temporary or permanent, where I can use my 20 years experience in accounting/finance and administration as well as a degree in Business (Financial Management) and many achievements under my belt. Not to mention experience across various industries in both private and public. I have also revamped my resume and yet after a year of looking I am still looking. I have previously proven myself in senior roles such as Assistant Accountant, Senior Finance Officer and Office Manager but am only being offered junior processing, unchallenging contract roles.

    I must admit though moving to the country did not help my career as I had to take what I could even though it didn’t fit in with my career goals and it was junior. I have now moved to Canberra hoping it will provide better career opportunities. I have also being receiving career counseling but to no avail and have now run out of funds.

    Any advice would help as my career has hit a wall/ceiling as has my finances? I would be happy to send my resume across should this help.

    Much appreciated

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


      It sounds like you have a varied and busy employment history. I agree wholeheartedly that temporary and contract work is a great way to keep your skills and experience up to date whilst also giving you flexibility when raising a family, and having roles extended for up to two years is a very good sign of your ability to not only do the job at hand, but to fit into the team culture of a number of different companies.

      However, there is a fine line between taking temporary roles so you can work / keep your skills up and being typecast as a temp/contract specialist. There comes a point when some potential employers can be put off by the amount of temporary jobs you have had and regard your employment history as ‘choppy’. There is no easy solution to this dilemma to be honest – if you don’t take temporary work, then you have no income and if you do, then it continues the pattern of short/medium term employment.

      Location is important – and you are right when you say moving to the country affected your ability to do the kind of work that you enjoy, simply because the opportunities to do it there are far and few between. Moving to Canberra is a good move, as you indicate that you have had public service work experience, so I would hope that would give you some advantage!

      You have also gained quite broad skills (from your comments) with a mixture of administration and accounting experience. This broadness in your experience is both an advantage and potentially a disadvantage. For example, if you had only ever worked in accounts, but had a lot of temporary work in this area, the chances are you would have developed specialist skills in one particular area (like Accounts Payable or Receivable) and these specialist skills would give you an distinct advantage when looking for long term or permanent work (particularly in a larger company). On the flip side, smaller to medium sized companies often like someone who has the ability to do more than one thing – whether this is processing invoices, answering the phone or creating sales orders – that variety appeals to them.

      I think that when you are considering roles in the future you need to ask yourself the following questions: How badly do I need the money? – if you are broke, then don’t be precious, any work is better than none. How does working for this company benefit me? – think about the employer – is it someone who could potentially offer long term employment options? Do they have a reputation for being stable or are they in growth mode? Is this a company that is going to look good on your resume? Do they have great systems that will be attractive to future employers? – think about all of that when considering a role. Do I want to specialise? – do you want to focus on one business discipline eg accounts, and if you do, are you willing to do pretty straight forward, transactional roles to further develop this experience. Or would this bore you to death and you would prefer to continue to have broader duties where there is more day to day challenge? Thinking this through will help you pin point the type of job you want and the type of company you want to work for. If you are dealing with recruitment consultancies, this is exactly the kind of conversation you need to have with them so they can help identify potential opportunities.

      Lastly, your best chance of getting long term employment is probably going to be in a ‘temp to perm’ opportunity. When you are talking to a recruiter, emphasize this so that they know you would like a permanent job. Then it’s a matter of getting in and doing what you do best – the job at hand. Hopefully, if the timing is right and the employer has a long term opportunity, they will offer you a permanent job.

      Good luck Zumra.

  16. […] Register a professional email address As Lisa Johnson suggested, if you’re emailing your CV from or… Do I […]

  17. Benjamin says:


    Beyond my e-mail still being a little silly (hasn’t really cost me any employment opportunities) I was just wondering if you had any advice for me. I am trying to get into the recruitment field while I am in Australia on a work/travel visa (9 months left) but all my experience is hospitality, teaching or sales and I am unsure about the best way to go about it.

    Any advice? I know it is hard with me not being a perm resident but I would take anything to get my foot in the door as it were so that I can work towards a better position later.


    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


      OK let me start by saying that if you are looking to get into recruitment because you have mates doing it and it looks glamorous or someone has told you it’s an easy way to get sponsorship to stay in Australia, then I want you to think very hard about this. I wrote another blog recently where I used the line “..the world is filled with failed recruiters retraining for a different career.” Recruitment is hard, hard work. There are very few airy fairy, warm fluffy moments. There are whole evenings where strangers in the pub tell you how much they hate recruiters, there are long days filled with hard work completely ruined when a client takes another candidate over your referral or worse, times when candidates let you down.

      Let me tell you a true story…I once placed a temp with a major bank as a business analyst. It was a six month contract role and she was dead set brilliant for the job. One Friday evening, a few weeks into the contract, she went out for drinks with the ‘guys’ from work. One of them allegedly made an inappropriate comment to her. She took umbrage and broke the bottom off her beer bottle and stabbed him in the eye.

      Do you think you’re ready to take THAT call from the client first thing Monday morning?

      To succeed you need to work long hours, you need to pick up the phone even when you would rather stab out your own eyes and you need to smile every time someone tells you how much they hate what you do. We work in a self regulated industry where there may be agencies who deal unethically with clients and candidates, and their shoddy behaviour reflects on YOU because you are in the same industry.

      There is no ‘right’ profile for a successful recruiter. But you do need to enjoy people. You need to be commercially astute, and a very good listener. You need to understand the difference between ‘liking’ someone and understanding the worth of an applicant for a role. You need to be organised, self motivated and focused. You need to be competitive but not at the expense of those around you or your clients and candidates. You should have integrity and a innate belief in doing what is right.

      If you read this and still think that this is the career for you, then it may be worth talking to the a specialist who recruits recruitment consultants to find out what the market is doing and to have a realistic discussion around your chances of getting a break into the industry. Google ‘rec to rec’ and you will find a list of consultancies who recruit consultants for agencies. Pick up the phone and give them a call.

      But don’t say you haven’t been warned!

      ps. the flip side to the stuff outlined above is that the people who do make it, who succeed in recruitment – could not imagine doing anything else. We love the fact that no day is the same, that the highs are much higher because the lows are so terribly low. We enjoy getting to know our clients and candidates and to see how people’s careers develop over the years. We love getting an insight into the challenges and opportunities facing Australian businesses as technology and competition changes so quickly. And as the great John ‘Hannibal’ Smith once famously said.. we “love it when a plan comes together.”

  18. Shauna says:

    Thank you for this blog.
    I’ve applied for over 180 jobs this year alone. I have had 3 interviews, one by phone and two personally.
    I’ve sat and completed a 3 and a half hour interview for a call centre position,( which I didn’t get) even though I am more than capable to have fulfilled that position.
    I worked in the entertainment field for most of my life. I have done several jobs in that time. now I cant get a job because of what i can only describe as age discrimination as I am 60.
    I even applied for a job in a factory and couldn’t get it, no experience.
    receptionist, answering phones, filing, basic receipt wrtiting, -didnt get it, no experience.

    I applied for a job as a receptionist first point of contact at a business college, the job was given to someone who was straight out of uni, having just done a masters in business management.

    trying to get a job sucks. i cant even get a job in a call centre.

    I’m smart, articulate and willing to work hard. Guess I’ll juts have to go scrub toilets as it seems thats all I’m good for, but then I probably won’t get that job either, cause I have no experience.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Hi Shauna

      This is a little challenging as I have not seen your resume so cannot provide specific advice. If you wanted to send it to me to review, please let me know. In terms of general advice, I recommend that you make sure that your resume shows some relevancy for the roles that you are applying for.

      When you say that you have applied for 180 jobs this year and are being rejected because of ‘no experience’ that indicates that the employer / recruiter cannot see obvious signs that you have the right skills and experience to do the role. If you are applying for roles for which you truly have no work experience then you are going to struggle. You are competing against applicants who DO have experience.

      However, the chances are you have done some of the work, it is just not clear in your resume. For example you say that you have been in the entertainment field for most of your life – think about what that has involved from an administrative point of view and make sure that you detail this in the resume. Do not assume that people ‘get it’. If they want someone who has experience using a computer to enter data, they need to see that in your resume. If they need someone who is used to dealing with people at all levels within a professional organisation, they want to see this too.

      You have said that you think you have been discriminated against based on your age. Unless you have put your birth date on your resume and detailed 40 years of experience, the recruiter / employer has NO idea how old you are when they read your resume. If you have doubts, take off the year of graduation from any qualifications and focus your resume on the past 10 – 15 years of experience. If you do that, then there is no way people could use age to discriminate against you.

      Shauna, if you want me to look at your resume in particular, let me know.


  19. […] rarely a dull moment. We’re often blown away by the glaring errors candidates make in their CVs and cover letters, as well as on their online – and usually very public – profiles. Here are four tragically real […]

  20. Prakash Subedi says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Its great to read your blog and you have provided really good advices to the people like me who are in the job searching or career changing process.

    I have similar story and believe you will provide me with some guidelines.

    I graduated in 2010 majoring Accounting ( Master in Accounting) . Immediately after My graduation I worked as an Account Officer ( Bookkeeping) where I was ” jack of all trade” for almost one and half year. Then I worked overseas as an Assistant Accountant for almost 2 years and came back to Australia and started looking for Assistant Accountant position. I started my CPA program, did SAP FICO course, brushed up my MYOB Skills and learnt XERO and I am good at EXCEL. To make myself more competitive I worked as an intern in two diverse industries for almost nine months. Now I am fully competitive and confidence for Assistant Accountant position and I have experience in all regards. However, after applying 200 positions for Assistant Accountant position I haven’t heard back from them ( My resume is professionally written). I have applied for few positions advertised through P2P as well but same story. I haven’t give up the hope however few word of advice from you would greatly boost up my confidence and probably alter my job searching process.

    Thank you in advance for your help.


    Prakash Subedi

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Hi Prakash,

      It is very frustrating when you find yourself in the position you are in. You have the qualifications, are doing the requisite professional studies and you have work experience, so why is it so hard to find a job?

      It’s not just you. Accounting graduates are really struggling in the current employment market. It seems that many large companies, who may have had graduate accounting programmes in the past or employed multiple graduates or clerks to undertake the day to day ‘grunt’ work have changed their business model altogether. Either systems are advanced enough to do the work for them OR they are outsourcing the work overseas. This means that there are simply fewer positions available and considerably more people looking to apply for them.

      Let’s consider your skills and experience for a minute. You have an Australian accounting degree, which is a big bonus, AND you have started your CPA studies, which will definitely appeal to a lot of businesses. You have about 18 months’ accounts clerical experience, but given that you mention MYOB and Xero in your comment, I am going to make a rather gross assumption here that this experience was probably gained in a fairly small business (feel free to correct me if I am wrong).

      You then decided to work overseas, which undoubtedly broadened your experience considerably, but it has not added a great deal of value to your resume. Because when you work in a different country, different accounting standards apply and local employers will mostly ignore this experience as being irrelevant to their vacancy. It sounds ridiculous, because a credit is a credit and a debit is a debit wherever you are in the world, but Australian employers put a great deal of faith in the robustness of our accounting standards and practices and therefore can, on occasion, interpret overseas experience as being of little to no value.

      On your return, you have done two internships with the aim of developing that assistant accountant experience and have a total of about nine months relevant experience at this level. Which is fantastic.


      When it comes down to it, you only have nine months’ relevant experience at the assistant accountant level that would be recognised by Australian employers. And you are probably competing against people with more experience – and potentially more experience with larger Australian businesses.

      I know you are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place – but there are things you can do to improve your chances.

      1) Be realistic and understand that inherently you are competing against a lot of other people for a role. When you apply for a position, be a bit different from everyone else – pick up the phone and call the consultant and talk to them about the role. Be respectful, polite but sound genuinely interested in the vacancy. It’s amazing the difference a phone call can make – it’s a connection with the decision maker that other applicants are not having.

      2) Ask for advice from your recruitment consultant and be prepared to take on board their comments. This might mean applying for senior clerical roles rather than an assistant accountant role IF the company is likely to offer career progression and add value to your resume.

      3) Remember people will be looking for a reason to exclude you from the recruitment process. Make sure your cover letter or application email has no grammar or spelling mistakes, make sure it is personalised to the role. Way too many people apply for jobs and reference the wrong job in the cover letter or address it to the wrong people – you will immediately find yourself in the ‘no’ pile if you do this.

      4) Chase temporary work. I know you want a permanent role, but a temp job can be an opportunity that makes you attractive in the job market. The work itself might be accounts clerical, but if it gets you experience in a larger business, experience using different accounting systems or the chance to impress a hiring manager, then temp work can make the difference between you getting a great perm job and continuing to get absolutely nowhere.

      5) Keep doing what you are doing – your two internships show a tenaciousness and willingness to work hard and to actively seek practical experience. That is impressive in an age when so many young people seem to believe that they are ‘entitled’ to a job.

      Persevere, Prakash. And good luck!

      • Prakash says:

        Dear Lisa,

        Thank you so much for your wonderful advice. I totally understand that I have very limited experience as Assistant Accountant since the overseas experience has very little value to add up. However, after working one and half year as Account Officer and 9 months as Assistant Accountant, shouldn’t I be targeting Assistant Accountant position? Otherwise I will still be stuck at accounts clerk positions because I will never have the required experience for the next role.

        Further , I have called many consultant but the reply I get is ” if your resume get picked up we will call you” and That never happens. So I have very limited opportunity to discuss about the role, my perspectives and to build up a relationship with real consultant. So apart from sending out resume online and wait for the call there is nothing much to do.

        ( Should I remove my overseas experience from resume because it may be just taking up space on resume without adding value)

        I am sorry to taking up your time. But your advices worth a gold.



        • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


          Yes you should be targeting assistant accountant roles, but keep in mind that you may be competing with assistant accountants who have more experience than you do, and this will be one reason why you are finding it hard to get your foot in the door.

          There are no easy answers for someone in your situation, but there ARE things you can do to improve your chances.

          1) Look at contract or long term temporary opportunities – particularly if they are in a larger company where you will gain exposure to larger FMIS or ERP systems like Oracle, Great Plains, SAP and JD Edwards. Having practical experience in a large system makes you infinitely more attractive to medium to large sized companies.

          2) Keep your overseas experience on your resume, but keep the details brief, e.g. job title, employer, location, dates of employer and one or two lines of text, rather than a lot of detail.
          As for calling consultants and getting a brush off – keep trying. It’s their job to talk to you, so a quick brush off is lazy consulting. On the other hand, be realistic – always ask them if it is a good time to talk. This way if they are busy and in the middle of getting a short list across to a client, they can explain this. If they are busy, tell them you will call them back and get them to agree to a time frame that this would work for them, e.g. after 4pm. This way they know you are keen to talk to them, they appreciate that you have allowed them time to finish a task before talking to you, AND when you call them back, they are expecting your call and are more likely to be prepared to speak with you.

          Voicemail is a terrible thing for people trying to get hold of a consultant, and you are likely to end up leaving messages at different times. If you do get a voicemail, don’t say, ‘Hi. This is Prakash, and I would like to speak to you about your assistant accountant vacancy.’ Say something like, ‘Hi, (consultant name). This is Prakash. I have seen your advertisement for an assistant accountant role, and I would like to find out if I have the skills and experience you need for this position. And if I don’t, perhaps some advice on how I can improve my chances in getting a role like this.’

          And remain positive and confident. If you are speaking to a consultant or potential employer, never sound bitter or frustrated with your job search. It turns people off, and they stop listening to what you say because they are busy listening to how you say it. Use professional language, listen to what they are saying and ask for advice.

          I am going to get one of our consultants to give you a call.

  21. […] previously posted about some of the biggest application fails we’ve observed, and the madness keeps […]

  22. Charlie says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I have read your blog and some of the replies to previous applicants.

    I got graduated in 2012 with my masters in Accounting. I applied for many jobs in past 2 years I didnt land for many interviews. Still I am not sure why my resume dont get shortlisted. I have worked as a bookkeeper in a small start up. then i did 2 internships in company,s to develop resume and 2 with accounting firms. I know MYOB, Quickbooks, Elite and other software packages. I recheck my resume for grammer and be specific

    Can you suggest something please?

    Thank You

  23. Shauna-Marie says:

    Some of you are going to think I have been harsh here, but the fact is people who review resumes look for reasons to exclude your application as much as include it. If you include the stupid, the bizarre, the offensive and the weird in your cover letter/resume, you have just handed them a reason to reject you and focus on someone else.

    Exactly. If you are from a cultural minority that experiences increased discrimination from employers and recruiters, such as being transgender as I am, you will find these following happen. The hiring process will be manipulated. The job spec changes. You’ll be more rigorously assessed than other comparable, “normal” candidates are. Other candidates may be less rigorously assessed.

    You’ll be interviewed in person, but they will look at you weird when you meet them. You will see the rest of its a mere formality as once they see you, the outcomes predetermined from that point forward. Many employers have secret discriminatory preferences, and many recruiters will not refuse business where the employer makes clear some discriminatory expectation or even instruction. Using a recruiter allows them anonymity and to avoid being held to account for their illegal and immoral actions, because the whole selection and screening process is not audited for integrity in this area. Recruiters are only too willing to facilitate any clients desire, even an illegal one, as the industry is cutthroat in its competitiveness they will do whatever it takes for money.

    I had been a temp once & obtained information from my recruiter I was dropped from an assignment by a client because of my status. Immediately I demanded that they refuse to do business with that client. I had given of my best, but my trust and commitment had been abused.

    My field was not rocket science, but admin. Turns out my other problem was it relates to unfounded concerns that others have that hiring us will negatively affect business image if in a visible position. I had worked, but recruiters that placed in temp mostly,men eat in the case above, placed me in the lowest roles. In this field the more challenging role is also visible to some, or a great, extent to visitors to the office.

    All in all I ended up not working much in most of my adult life. I honestly believe that there is not generally, a fair go in Australia for us as candidates or employees. Finding the right employer or recruiter becomes a matter of luck, as it’s rare to find one who will not hold you back or prejudge you for what you are.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Shauna-Marie, I apologise for taking so long to come back to you. I have spent the past three days thinking about your comments because you have made some really good, valid points and we need to discuss these in more depth. So I will be doing a blog post specifically on discrimination (you have inspired me!).

      But here, I will say a couple of things.

      Many employers may indeed have ‘secret’ discriminatory preferences, but if they ask us to exclude a particular group of people or type of person, our consultants will ALWAYS say that it is our job to provide the best possible candidate for a role. We make it clear that we will never actively exclude a group of people simply because the client demands it (if that demand is unlawful discrimination).

      However, let me say this: I would never ask a candidate to take a job with an organisation where I know the culture would be offensive to them as a person. Every company has it’s own ‘culture’ and not every person is going to fit in.

      For example, years ago I was recruiting for a very trendy PR and advertising agency. I remember visiting their offices in my black suit, carrying my black compendium and my hair tied back just so, with my sensible shiny black court shoes and standing out like a sore thumb. The receptionist appeared to be wearing her underwear and not much else and had brought her dog to work. There were so many hip and trendy people walking around that I didn’t know where to look; all I could think was ‘surely they are going to catch a cold walking around dressed like that!’.

      Whilst I enjoyed recruiting for them, I could never have worked there. It was too social, with a lot of creativity happening after hours over expensive drinks and I had a small child and a husband who would have been wildly unsupportive of me drinking the week nights away surrounded by glamorous, beautiful people. It was not the right culture for me. I am too conservative and a little introverted for such a creative environment.

      But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t have the skills to work in a company like that. It’s just that, culturally, it’s a bad fit.

      Shauna-Marie, I know you face challenges that I wouldn’t in the job market, and I hope that more businesses embrace diversity in 2015. Diversity is essential, and I know that there are companies that are actively working to develop a diverse workforce, but (unfortunately) it is a slow process. Diversity needs to be championed by senior AND middle management for it to work. It doesn’t matter how passionate HR are about developing diversity policies and broadening the company culture, if management are not fully supportive, it all falls down.

      I encourage you to keep trying. Without strong people like yourself, willing to put themselves out there to face potential rejection, then people will not change. You will make people think. You will hopefully make them consider their own prejudices and perhaps make them consider change. I can’t promise you success, but I sincerely hope you find it.

      I wish you all the best, and hope that my upcoming blog offers some more insight into discrimination in recruitment.

      Kind Regards

  24. Shauna-Marie says:

    Hi Lisa

    My experience of companies who claim they’re working on it is that it’s just words. Only outcomes will prove anything and outcomes so far do not show us there.

    I left looking long ago as it was rather pointless. If very lucky, you’d get the lowest job many people did not want and be stuck there as even mediocre individuals could advance.

    Big things are happening on the other side of the world but here we face a hostile environment in the labour market. Strict merit-based recruitment rather tends to reinforce the status quo than challenge it.

    By way of background, it’s only within the last 2-3 years that we acquired federal discrimination protection in law. In Australian States, we got it in most cases up to 30 years after others had it.

    At this stage, putting oneself out there leads to nowhere. You are questioned intensively about gaps in your resume, which are overlooked if you’re a rich kid who’s been travelling the world or a mother from an affluent neighbourhood. Most times, if you have no recommendations or reference, your application will stall right there.

    The general picture in society is another barbaric one. We are still jailed with men. Unlike several countries, we are denied complete healthcare in our health system and must fund it ourselves, but with what money?

    If all this involved any other group there would be howls of protest from all the usual suspects who adopt social issue campaigns. Even the media would take an interest.

    Recruiters are all too keen to position themselves as “experts” in staffing and offer commentary on all kinds of staffing matters but will not challenge the hostility to minorities that is part of the Australian workplace and recruiting industry. At least if I was anything else, I’d be accepted in many places.

    Lisa, I’m honestly sceptical that there is any change in the wind right now. Making candidates jump through many hoops serves another hidden purpose – allowing the rejection of a culturally undesirable candidate without causing exposure to litigation be the business. Our legal system is laughable even if it gets to that point. There needs to be a reversal of onus of proof if an individual complains legally about discrimination, and also businesses to be fined and the laws restructured so that damages payouts become unlimited and decided by juries in common law courts. As long as the repercussions are small, the rogues will continue rolling the dice knowing the odds are stacked in their favour.

  25. Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:


    I agree with so much of what you say. There are far too many companies paying lip service to diversity in the workplace, and I fully believe that this will not change until diversity is driven by hiring managers as much as HR.

    And, I don’t know how much change there is in the wind either. It takes a long time to change people’s attitudes and to effect social change. And we have to have a government that is passionate about social change – who will develop strategies and policies in education; who will consider supporting positive discrimination in education and employment to encourage change.

    You say that recruiters will not challenge the hostility to minorities that pervades the Australian workplace, but this is not true. When the best available candidate is someone from a minority group, we will always encourage the client to consider them. But we do not make the final decisions. If the client wants somebody else for the role, it doesn’t matter how hard I try or what arguments I use, they will choose the other person. It is my job to impress upon the client the benefits of employing a candidate, but I can’t force them to take them.

    Your comments around making candidates jump through hoops is both true and misleading. It is fundamentally true, that a robust recruitment process that includes multiple methods of selection – resume, interviews, role plays, psych evaluation, references (for example) is designed to whittle the number of applicants down to one preferred candidate. Long term analysis of recruitment practices prove that the more ‘hoops’ there are, the more likely the company is of choosing the right fit – both technically and culturally for the organisation.

    But in my experience, businesses who use such a robust process are less likely to write you off due to your transgender status. As internal HR outside of the recruitment industry, I was involved in a number of these robust recruitment exercises, which included minority group candidates in the mix. Each person was evaluated on the same measures and each was considered accordingly. Yes, there are some challenges for minorities – if the role requires a lot of telephone communication with internal and external stakeholders and the candidate has poor communication skills, they are going to have a less favourable result in that area than another candidate with strong communication skills. But the candidate is still considered in line with the overall process.

    A recruitment process with lots of hoops is particularly useful if the hiring manager has ‘doubts’ about a candidate. From an HR perspective, if we can show that the candidate has demonstrated the right skills and behaviours from role play exercises, has shown the right abilities and potential given their psych evaluation and has good references from previous employers then we can alleviate some of those ‘doubts’ that the hiring manager has.

    Making a hiring decision based on whether you ‘like’ someone is often a terrible decision. So having these hoops and steps to the process helps remove the ‘like’ factor. I remember reading somewhere that people make up their minds about a job interviewee in the first 90 seconds of the interview – and in that time they can only be deciding based on whether they like the look of a person. It drives me mad!

    Anyway, a long, drawn out recruitment process with loads of different stages that the candidate must go through, is not designed to exclude minority groups in a legally defensible way; it’s designed to identify the one person who has the right skills, behaviours and competencies for the role with the aim of improving company staff retention rates (if nothing else).

    As for litigation – I don’t know if that works. It’s the old carrot vs stick argument. Personally, I think offering incentives (positive discrimination) is more likely to drive positive change. However, if someone can prove that they were excluded from a recruitment process or loses their job / doesn’t get promoted because of their minority status, then litigation is entirely appropriate. I do not disagree with you there.


  26. RRW says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I read through the blog and I was happy because it talks about the situation I am currently facing and was sad because I am facing something seems to be a common one for many. So that seems it will make the matter worse than I thought. Before reading the blog I was assuming its only couple of us (in the situation which I am in) are suffering like this but will find a feet in our favour at any point in time hopefully. Is it going to be only a hope? May be God knows.

    I am a new migrant to Australia and was trying to find a job for about past five to six months with no luck yet. I have placed about (I am not sure though) more than 500 applications during this period, and have met several recruiting agents including P2P, have altered my resume for may be 10 times, still the same result.

    I am not sure whether I am also facing that discrimination problem but I am being rejected constantly giving the reason “because my skill don’t match the requirements of the client”, but I am not sure whether that is the real reason. I have many years (about 15 years) experience in my profession but don’t have one within Australia because I am new to Australia (and that’s what I am looking for right now) and also have got enough qualifications too including a post graduate from one of the recognised university in Australia. I am also taking further studies that is required in Australian market. I have experience from my home country for about 6 years and another 11 years or so experience in international (except Australia) companies that are operating in multicultural arena. I have worked with many Englishmen and Americans and many other Asian nationalities for example. But will my experience be given any value in this market? If anyone can give “Yes” answer then I should have landed in a job long ago!

    What could be the reason…please assist to understand that.

    I also challenge the recruiting consultants/agents here. My ten year old daughter can do well what they are doing right now in Australian job market. They match two (the resume and the requirements from the client) one to one and shortlist the most matches. Isn’t it VERY simple? I will call them experts if they place people like us to those jobs (I am not being selfish here though), those who with less matches are difficult to place, I agree but that’s what they should be doing if they are to be called experts (My daughter is too small to call an expert in HR though she can do that side by side matching perfectly). ‘Any salesman can sell a Pepsi but a good salesman may find it difficult to introduce the ‘best natural fruit juice’ for the first time to the market”. That’s what is expected from a salesman, if he is to be named an expert salesman, isn’t it? Correct me if I am wrong.

    They are a responsible team and representatives of those who cannot sound against or reduce the impact of such discrimination if at all it will exist in this job market. There should be some reason behind all those rejections though the fact is not communicated to the minority suffer from that.

    Will there be anybody who can possibly assist for people like us to overcome this?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Thanks for your comments, and the points that you make are valid and you are definitely not alone. I need to say more than I would in the comments, so I am going to write a new blog specifically addressing your situation – because I think it is important that we share this with as many people as possible.

      I will email you when the blog is posted so you can review. In the meantime, I am going to ask a consultant to call you too. Nothing beats a person to person conversation.


  27. Mia says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I am a fresh graduate without any academic experience and looking for a job in the last few months. I do not sure whether I should continue sending out my application or looking for an internship to get some experience first. I saw some graduate position advertised on website; and I am not sure if I should apply for it or not.

    Do you have any suggestion?

    Can I send you my cover letter and resume? I really appreciate you advice.

    Many Thanks,


    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Hi Mia,

      I assume that what you are saying, is that you are a recent graduate with no practical work experience.

      If you see roles advertised as ‘graduate’ roles, the company is almost certainly specifically looking for graduates and your lack of work experience will not be an issue. However, if you have done part time work whilst you are studying, this may work in your favour.

      By all means send me your cover letter and resume so I can review and give any appropriate advice – email it to


  28. agua bendita circo says:

    I enjoy the efforts you have put in this, thank you for all the great content.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I enjoy writing the blogs…it satisfies my frustrated writer tendencies.

  29. Andrew says:

    Great article thanks! Just my 2c worth, one of the things that I do with my clients (depending on the role their applying for) is to break the career history down into two seperate segments – responsibilities – outcomes. Helps to add a more evidenced based approach to the resume. And action verbs can go a long way, especially if written in a past-tense format.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      That is sensational advice Andrew. I completely agree with you on ‘action verbs’ too. Often people mix up the tense in resumes and its a little jarring.

      Your advice is also really helpful in getting people to think about the work that they have been doing and their achievements. So many people struggle to articulate themselves and I really like your approach to this.

      Kind Regards

  30. Amy says:

    Hi there Lisa,

    I’ve recently had to leave my job of 4.5 years due to extreme budget cuts and not receiving any hours whatsoever – it was heartbreaking as I loved my position, however I was just a casual and in that regard, just disposable. I was working for a large supermarket chain, and in this time, was doing 2iC shifts on weekends – however I was never “officially” trained, just kinda thrown in the deep end for this.

    There’s very little jobs going for me here, and thus I have been applying interstate and have been receiving a few phone calls to organise interviews, however I am in Brisbane and most of these interviews are in Perth. I’m more than willing to fly over and organise a few interviews, but once people find out that I am not local, they are no longer interested or tell me to come in for an interview once I am living there – I cannot live there if I don’t have a job.

    I’m studying payroll and bookkeeping online, but as my only experience is in customer service, and I’m only really eligible for entry level positions, I’m struggling to find anything or anywhere. It’s quite depressing to know I have a shot at these jobs, but my location is preventing me from this.

    I might add that I am only 19 years old, and I have been told that is a benefit, however I think it is quite the opposite as I do not have much experience, which seems to be required for every job I come across.

    I have done volunteer work for a few charities, including door knocking, market stalls, event organisation etc. I’m not sure what I can do or change on my resume, as I’m not financially in a position and will struggle to be able to rent should I permanently relocate to Perth without having a secure job.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Amy, I am so sorry – I have only just seen your message. I hope by now you have found work, but can I tell you this – I wish there were more young people like you out there! Believe me, your work experience has value – it really does. My 14 year old has been working in retail and it has been a huge eye opener for me on how rude and aggressive strangers can be with customer service staff!

      I don’t know the Brisbane market very well, and I am unclear if you are living centrally or out of the way, but here are some ideas:

      * Have you considered looking at other types of retail stores? You have fabulous experience now working for a good period of time in a fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) organisation – the skills and knowledge you have gained from this role will be easily transferable to a new industry
      * Make sure your resume details any computer work you had to do in your job – this will be helpful if you want to apply for office work
      * Try doing key word searches in SEEK or on Indeed. Use words like “Entry Level” or the dreaded “Junior” and see what comes up – employers looking for entry level staff don’t expect you to have a lot of experience, so it won’t matter that you don’t have office experience (for example). Also key word search ‘customer service officer’ and apply for those roles. Don’t assume that you are NOT experienced enough to apply for these ones – your 4.5 years experience is invaluable.
      * Make sure your resume includes some information about working under pressure, have achievements listed which includes some detail on resolving customer problem or solving an issue that happened in store

      Most employers do like you to be local – it gives a sense of permanency or stability to your application, so it doesn’t surprise me that you are finding it hard to get any traction there. Perhaps consider Sydney instead, where you could catch the train and perhaps spend a week in a back packers hostel and take your resume physically into stores or even hotels to see if you can drum up some work.

      I hope you have found something Amy, and I am so sorry I didn’t come back to you sooner.


  31. PCP says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for your valuable tips and time, I am a jobseeker so need more tips and helps for getting a good job. Can I have your e-mail address for further helps and tips?

  32. glintech says:

    Dear Lisa! Thanks a lot for this great post,I appreciate you for giving such a informative portal. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well as. Best of luck :)

  33. Hennie Smit says:

    Dear Lisa,

    Poor you have an energy straining job, it’s so tuff to come up with all da right answers and solutions, to satisfy every one is even worse.

    I’ve got the world of respect for you, for what you’re doing for da people of our land.

    I picture you as a humble loyal person with humanity.

    With warm regards,

    Hennie Smit

  34. sharon says:

    Hi Lisa, i am wanting a change of career. for the previous 15 years i have worked in the community sector as a support worker in all fields.
    i would like to work as a dispatch manager in a warehouse and use my experiences from 15-20 years ago how do i go about this? what do i omit and what do i leave in my resume.

    Thank you for your time.


    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Sharon, you should set your resume out in a way that makes it easy for the employer to see you have the skills. If possible, find tasks or duties from your more recent roles that also applies to dispatch management; whether this includes setting rosters, telephone customer service, problem resolution etc. Also make a point of listing some achievements around time management, organisation or problem resolution so that the employer can see that those skills are directly comparable to the kinds of skills a dispatch manager has.
      You will be competing against people with up to date experience in dispatch management, so I also recommend highlighting any computer skills or relevant licences you have too.
      With the work you did many years ago, which is directly comparable, make sure you highlight the size of the company, how many drivers you were managing, detail if it was a high volume (FMCG) environment and add in any examples you can think of where you exceeded customer expectations or made a process improvement. Doing these things will not guarantee your success, but will give you a fighting chance :)

  35. Vy Dinh says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I’m new to this and to be honest I have never blogged my entire life until now. I found this blog extremely useful and related to so many people out there who is struggling to look for jobs, fight and survive in this very competitive career market.

    Would you be so kind to give you email? I would like to arrange a one on one discussion with your recruitment about my career opportunity?

    Thank you so much.

    Sincerely Vy

  36. Neil Gardoll says:

    Thanks Lisa, you’re replies to the various questions above have given me a better understanding of the whole process. I’ve wondered about the exact same things. (If I read the blog before doing the survey I might have rated peopleIIpeople even higher than did!) Applicants, people in general, always think it’s all bout them, we just don’t see how many others are vying for the same positions I suppose. Thanks for the Blog. To other job seekers, just keep applying, but follow the advice above. Thanks. Neil.

  37. Freya Monroe says:

    Hi Lisa! By reading your article I got some valuable information. And yes, I did a lot of mistakes. After all, a resume reflects whether I am eligible for the job or not.. Thanks a lot..

  38. Hi Lisa! By reading your article I got some valuable information. And yes, I did a lot of mistakes. After all, a resume reflects whether I am eligible for the job or not.. Thanks a lot..

  39. David Walker says:

    This is nice blog. we provider best resume writing service.

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