Ask a Career Counselor: Adrijana Milosavljevic

Vladimir Popovic
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Adrijana Milosavljevic
Adrijana Milosavljevic

Adrijana is a career counselor and a youth worker. Let’s see what she has to say about resumes.

QTell me something about you and your business. How did you start? 

A: My first business experience was an internship with a PR agency during my studies, as well as working as a journalist in some online magazines. That was when I realized I was interested in human resources and communications – corporate, external and internal, with focus on digital. I continued my formal education on Faculty of Organizational Sciences and graduated with a master thesis – Recruiting Online.

Now I have several years of experience in career guiding and counselling, HR, digital communications, journalism and event management. I’m a certified youth worker, working with young people aiming to raise their soft skills and increase their employability. Mostly through conducting activities of NGO IdejNet club. I am one of the founders of this NGO.

I read and check plenty of CVs every day, and considering that experience, I enjoy helping people present themselves in the best way possible. I am currently working at the HR department of an American company, and besides my regular job, I’m also performing career counselling activities on a daily basis.

Adrijana Milosavljevic

LinkedIn: Adrijana Milosavljevic

Twitter: @AdrijanaM

Q: What are the three most common mistakes applicants make in their resumes?

A: Most common are spelling mistakes that candidates make.  Followed by incomplete information (e.g. incorrect e-mail address) and informal style, unrelated sentences and documents without any structure.


Q: How much time do you spend on a resumes at first glance?

A: Around 20 seconds at first glance is enough to realize whether we should pay more attention and eventually invite a candidate to an interview.


Q: What is the first thing you look for in a resume?

A: Experience and clarity catch my attention at first, when the candidate knows how to separate important from irrelevant.


Q: What are the three main eliminating factors for you when you review resumes?

A: A photo from a wedding or the beach. Bad structure and a number of spelling mistakes.


Q: What are the three main attributes in a resume of a candidate who will be invited for an interview?

A: The most important is that the experience of a candidate matches the requirements of a company/job, of course. I like when I can recognize potential and ambition in a resume, as a signal that the candidate is striving to upgrade knowledge and improve their skills.

I recommend inserting some references from professors or former employees, colleagues…


Q: What do you think of graphic and video resumes?

A: I consider those types of CVs very interesting and important in fields like design, marketing, communications and art. For example for an engineerial position some infographic could catch my attention.

When it comes to CV like that, it is important that it makes me believe that the candidate has created it on their own and that it shows their effort and creativity, not that they have paid a designer to do it instead.


Q: What do you think of a functional resume format and what do you do when you see one?

A: I prefer to pay attention to candidate’s experience, since that is the “proof” that they possess certain skills. Therefore, I will look up for candidate’s work positions, either past or ongoing, and then I will check volunteer activities, education and interests.


Q: What is your position on photos on resumes?

A: Inserting a photo in a resume can have its own pros and cons in the selection process; it depends on the choice of the photo. If a candidate’s photo looks professional, it could easily be remembered and connected with candidate’s experience and content of the CV. However, if the presentation is unprofessional (a night-life photo, or from the beach or a celebration), that mostly creates a bad image of a candidate.

We often get surprised by envelopes that we receive, containing a summer holiday photo attached to a letter with a paper-clip, or some part of a cropped photo from a wedding.

Q: Do you think that professional resume writing service is worth a couple of hundreds of dollars?

A: I think that the Internet enables candidates to download plenty of information nowadays which they can use to create their own resume based on that, but advice from a professional can also be a significant source.


Q: What is your opinion regarding resume length?

A: As you can read from many sources, two pages is an ideal length. I would suggest candidates who have plenty of experience to think of the most relevant ones for the employer and position and to write that in their resume.


Q: What are the three main points, undergraduates or fresh graduates, need to present in their resume?

A: Their voluntary activities, internships and interests, along with their favorite subject, how they spend their spare time, memberships in student / youth organizations, everything that can show their thirst for knowledge and that they are capable and proactive.


Q: Do you check references? What is your experience?

A: It depends on a position advertised. It is good to check references for some higher positions as well as to gather additional information about the candidate, just to make sure that we are employing the right person.


Q: Do you read cover letters?

A: Yes, if candidates let themselves write it outside the box, a motivational letter can say a lot about a candidate that we can’t read in a resume. Motivational letters can be great a way to discover candidate’s profile, interests and character.


Q: What is your advice on making employment gaps less prominent on a resume?

A: If a candidate had a longer employment gap it would be good if they could present it as the “time invested in education and gaining some skills”, maybe working on a project, and in that way show the purpose of that gap.

Q: What would you like to see in resumes more often?

A: Personal touch.


Q: What are the most irrelevant parts of a resume for you?

A: Features that can be seen in most of the resumes are that they are team players, communicative, responsible … Listing traits and “profiles” really does not mean much to me and does not affect whether the candidate will be invited to an interview.


Q: Do you check online presence of a candidate exclusively through links provided on a resume or you dig deeper?

A: Sometimes I dig dipper, google, check profiles of candidates, their network. I think that social networks like Facebook and Twitter can say a lot about a candidate, but those are informal channels of communication so that kind of information should not have impact on a decision whether to invite a candidate to an interview. Online recruiting was the topic of my master thesis, and I think it is the future of recruiting. I would recommend that candidates keep updating their LinkedIn profiles and add the link to their CV.


Q: In the end, please add a couple of sentences about resumes for our readers.

A: The company which I work for sends reply letters to candidates stating that their application has been received and thanking them for their application. It often happens that candidates forget to put the address in their resume, so the answer is never delivered to them. Therefore, prior to sending, check the accuracy of the information. It happens that the candidate sends the wrong email address or even a phone number that is no longer in use, so the employer is not able to contact them.

It may sound redundant as advice – but you should check a couple of times whether all personal information has been entered, starting from names and surnames. It happened once that a candidate called to check whether we received his biography, since there was no response. It turned out that the candidate hadn’t indicated his name and surname in the CV (which might have been the result of sending resumes at the last moment, or “anxiety”), so our recruitment associate recognized him in the photograph by description.

A large number of the CVs we receive are the candidates’ requests for employment due to hard living conditions. I would advise candidates to concentrate on what they can offer to the company and explain the reasons why the HR employees should invite them for an interview.

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