I review tens of thousands of resumes each year. I marvel at the multitude of talented, interesting individuals in this world! But it breaks my heart to see how many people throw away their chances of getting selected for a job they covet because of carelessness or downright lack of effort.
Here is my Top 10 List of Job-Seeker No-No’s:
- The wrong cover letter is attached. If you apply to Company A, don’t say you are seeking to work for Company B. If you want to be a Public Relations Specialist, don’t say you are interested in the Marketing Assistant position. This is an instant turn-off for any recruiter or hiring manager.
- The required qualifications are ignored. If the position you want requires 5 years of experience in Human Resources, but you don’t have that experience, don’t apply. You not only waste your own time, but you tell the recruiter and the hiring manager that you either can’t read or you ignore important details.
- Your resume lacks specifics. I can’t tell you how many resumes I see that fail to list vital information such as the titles of the jobs the candidates held, the years they served in those jobs, the duties they performed or the goals they achieved. I’m not sure how they expect to be considered as serious candidates.
- Your grasp of the English language is tenuous. I think it’s common knowledge that resumes and cover letters need to be mistake-free. And yet I find misspellings, grammar errors or misuse of words in at least one-fourth of the resumes I read. For jobs that require writing of any kind, this can be a death knell on your chances of even getting an interview.
- You’re a job hopper. You change jobs every year or two. If you want a hiring manager to believe you will stay at the next job longer, you’d better write a pretty convincing cover letter.
- You use the scatter-gun approach. You apply to every position you see rather than closely analyzing whether your experience, education and skill set matches the qualifications of each position. When managers realize you aren’t being selective, they figure you will be just as careless on the job. Bottom line: They ignore you for future positions as well.
- Your cover letter is nothing but fluff. You explain that you are dedicated, punctual, organized and personable. That doesn’t really distinguish you from other candidates since everyone lists generalities about how wonderful they are. Reviewing the suggestions made in this previous blog may help. Use the cover letter to directly address the qualifications for the position. That’s what a hiring manager wants to know – do you have the education, experience and skills that the position requires?
- You don’t watch your email (or your spam folder). Many candidates never see inquiries from recruiters or hiring managers, even when a job posting alerts them to watch their email account closely after applying. Granted, some emails from employers go into the spam folder. But if you’re serious about wanting a new job, wouldn’t you think to monitor that folder?
- Your references aren’t convincing. Either you only list personal friends who have no idea what you do on the job or you give professional references that aren’t willing to talk with a recruiter or are quite willing to share your weaknesses.
- You repeat these mistakes over and over. You are dead in the water once recruiters and hiring managers see your carelessness is rampant, not just a one-time lapse in thinking. That is, dead in the water for any job at the company, not just the one for which you applied.
So remember, before you hit the “SEND” button, be sure to review your materials carefully with these 10 no-no’s in mind. It will take more time and effort, but it’ll be worth it. You’ll see.