Working as a professional resume writer, I’ve been in the unique position of witnessing some embarrassing errors that people make on their resumes and employment applications. Below are some more memorable mishaps from my clients in their original resumes and applications.
A resume and cover letter are the only way for a potential employer to base their first impression of you. In this competitive era, it’s even more crucial to think of your job search in these harsh terms: with so many qualified candidates to choose from, employers are looking for reasons to lessen their load and weed out candidates quickly! Employers actually consider the amount of effort you \ put into the application process to be a direct indicator of how much effort you’ll put into your future job. It’s critical to use the application process to sell your strengths, qualifications and work ethic every chance you get.
1. Your Name is Not a Number
When a person’s name shows up as “730” in my inbox, I’m less likely to respond to their request for a resume revamp. Imagine what potential employers must think! When a person doesn’t bother to format their name in outgoing emails, or capitalize it, they’re inadvertently conveying either lack of computer proficiency, poor grammar or laziness, none of which are characteristics that are going to make a positive first impression!
2. Proper Grammar
I frequently ask clients to send me examples of everything they use when applying for jobs, including resumes, cover letters, online applications and email exchanges; if someone isn’t receiving callbacks, it’s likely because they’re getting screened out at step one. It’s important to pay attention to the details of your communication with a potential employer to make sure they have a positive impression of who you are and how you work! This includes checking spelling, grammar, punctuation and using complete sentences in each and every exchange.
3. Exclude Your Dreams and Aspirations
Of course an employer wants you to have a personality, hobbies and personal goals! On the resume, your task is to convey how these parts of you relate to your professional performance. While it’s great to include a Volunteer section on a resume to showcase your interests and your commitment to social justice, information about unrelated hobbies, dreams and aspirations fit better in an interview or cover letter. Once you get hired, you will hopefully have years to express your individuality to the employer. For the resume though, keep it professional! (This also means refraining from using emoticons which I have also seen!)
4. Know your Audience!
I often see resumes and cover letters that are either too general or geared toward a different type of position than what applicant is applying to. For example, they may put an emphasis on projects they worked on as an Administrative Assistant, but the job they’re applying for is for a Social Media Manager. Where the applicant could have provided examples of their relevant digital media fluency, they instead played up the clerical aspects of their past roles. Ideally, a resume should be crafted toward a certain type of position, while each cover letter should be tailored specifically to the job that you’re applying for. A cover letter should answer the question why me? How am I a perfect fit for the role? The resume can then serve to back up your claims with substantive and quantitative information about skills, experience and accomplishments.
The job search isn’t easy, but with a strong resume and cover letters that highlight your skills, strengths and accomplishments, the process should feel much smoother. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact us to today to get started on your new path!
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