Mocopan Coffee’s Jared Chapman shares his top tips to writing an effective résumé and making the right impression from the get-go.
Do you ever stare at online ads thinking about the fact that you haven’t updated your résumé for three years? The idea of having to sell yourself with just words on a page can be quite daunting.
Rest assured, being on the other side of the fence can be just as difficult. I’ve spent a lot of time interviewing for many different types of roles at Mocopan. I’ve spent even more time sifting through résumés to decide who to interview in the first place. In this column, I will share my tips on what really makes a résumé stand out, and the dos and don’ts for résumé writing.
To start, let’s talk about why a good résumé is important. If you are looking for a job as a barista, the good news is that there are a lot more jobs available than there are baristas, according to my conversations with café owners. While this is a good thing for job hunters, there is still plenty of competition for the best roles.
Most café owners know the importance of a good barista in their business. Your résumé is still important when applying for these jobs, but one of the best things you can do is to hit the pavement and let your passion speak for itself. Second to this, social media has become a powerful tool for business owners seeking baristas and therefore for baristas looking for work.
If you are applying for a more senior role, perhaps as a Barista Trainer or a Sales Representative with a coffee roaster, this scenario changes. In this instance, you have many baristas and coffee people vying for far less positions, and your résumé is often the only thing a potential employer has to determine whether to call you in for an interview.
Given how important it is, here are my top tips for what to include in a résumé and what to leave out.
Customise your résumé for each job
Every job is different, and your résumé should be too. You want to highlight the experience that is most relevant to the role you are applying for. Read the job ad carefully and be sure that you’ve addressed the key points highlighted in the ad. It’s amazing how many people I’ve had apply for coffee jobs that don’t mention coffee once in their résumé.
Include a cover letter
Your cover letter is your opportunity to put some personality behind the facts in your résumé. A lot of résumés have similar details but every cover letter should be different. You should talk about what you’re most proud of professionally, what excites you, and why you would be the right person for the job. If it’s a part-time role, you should mention why that interests you. Be mindful though, a cover letter is not the opportunity to tell your life story. Ideally, your cover letter should be roughly half a page. If it’s too long it simply won’t get read. If you write a couple of sentences for the sake of having a cover letter, you’d be better off without it.
Check your social media
Like it or not, there’s a good chance a potential employer may want to know a bit more about you. In a world where so much is shared, it is important to know what’s publicly available for all to see. It may not go so well if you’ve boasted on social media about calling in sick after a big night.
Explain anything unusual – gaps in employment or frequent job changes
Whether you’ve been job-hopping or spent a year overseas trying to “find yourself”, it is a good idea to briefly give some context to anything unusual in your résumé. This will serve to prevent a potential employer from making assumptions when it comes to the details.
Format well and check for spelling and grammar
You don’t need to hire a graphic designer to create your résumé, but you should ensure the formatting is consistent, tidy, and easy to read. As for spelling and grammar, it’s simple – get it right. If you aren’t good with this, have someone proofread your résumé. I once received a résumé that talked about the person’s attention to detail, only to realise they had misspelled their own name at the top.
Include irrelevant job history
It doesn’t matter to a coffee company that’s looking to hire you for a sales job that you were the dux of your school 15 years ago or that you delivered newspapers when you were a teenager. Skip the details that aren’t relevant to the role you are applying for.
I’ve never read a résumé that said anything bad about its writer. If you write that you’re a fast learner, a team player, and a workaholic, I probably won’t take any notice. Instead, think about talking about your pragmatic approach to everyday work or how you enjoy working through the logistics of tough situations as a way to show how you operate.
Yes, you want to show your best side, but you also want to be realistic about your skill set. There’s a good chance if you talk up a particular skill, you’ll be asked to demonstrate or explain it at the interview.
Use your high school email address
If you’ve got one of those email addresses that seemed like a good idea at the time but in hindsight is pretty ridiculous – something along the lines of firstname.lastname@example.org. Ring any bells? Just don’t put it at the top of your résumé.