Imagine being out of work for a few months. The wolf isn’t just at the door, he’s in the living room biting pieces out of your couch, peeing on the carpet, and scaring your kids. You’ve applied to so many places online you’re afraid either the Feds will start investigating you for spamming or some Russian mafia squad will see your potential and kidnap you into the underground email spamming industry. As appealing as it sounds to be the person who sends those emails (TRIM Y O U R BODY FAT! How to be Irresistible to Wommen – Sexually! Bagsful of $$$ to Work From Home!), you’ve got your reputation to consider. On the other hand, the thought of being the guy outside the local BP station asking innocent passers-by for some money to put gas in the car (because you, your wife, and your six little kids are ‘stranded’) makes you think those winters in Russia might not be so cold.
The point is, you need to find a job, and fast. The sense of desperation you felt when you first became unemployed has gotten worse, but all along it has caused you to make mistakes. In turn, those mistakes have hindered your actual job hunting efforts in ways you might not have considered. One of the most common mistakes people make in this area has to do with the very first thing on the ‘to-do’ list of those with suddenly-abundant time on their hands – resume creation. You’d think people would take the time to get this one right, considering that this could be the only thing about you that actually reaches the eyes of people whose task it is to choose or reject you for employment consideration, but all too often, whether out of desperation, carelessness, or plain ignorance, they don’t.
Here are some common resume blunders we staffing and hiring managers see (just a little less often than those annoying Cialis spam emails).
Too long – We’re not saying we immediately toss seven page resumes in the trash, but as soon as we run into one our eyes glaze over like an eighth grade boy about to crack open a copy of Moby Dick. We really don’t care about the boring details of how you ‘strategized synergistically’ at your last place of employment, and we certainly aren’t going to read about it. What we are going to do (if we don’t toss it in the trash, that is) is scan it to find nuggets of how your past roles fit into what we’re hiring for. If those nuggets are buried so deep in meaningless text we need a bulldozer to dig them out, we’ll probably move on to ‘easier’ candidates.
Lesson: Keep it concise, to the point (as in, tailored to the job you are looking for), and not more than two pages. You resume should be like a good appetizer – give just enough information to make the hiring manager want to see more.
Too busy – You are trying to land a job interview, not win a graphic design contest (unless, of course, you are applying to be a graphic designer). Leave off the images, banners, smiley faces, and squiggly lines. Resist the temptation to add that awesome glamour shot you had made back in the day or the cool selfie you took after you grew your Movember mustache. What may be fine for your Facebook profile isn’t necessarily appropriate for the top of your resume. Besides the obvious Equal Employment Opportunity implications, what happens if you do manage to land an interview and your potential employer finds out that, after forty pounds and a decade of hair loss, you no longer look anything like you did in the picture?
Lesson: Leave off the fancy stuff. We are not impressed.
Too inaccurate – We’ve seen it all here – incorrect spelling, bad grammar, incoherent sentences. We once even had someone turn in an otherwise perfectly fine and relevant resume with one minor detail missing – their name! The ever so patient Staffing Manager, not wanting to miss out on a good candidate despite this grievous error, called the applicant to ask for a copy with his name so she could submit it to clients. Instead of laughing it off, apologizing, and fixing it, he actually argued with her, insisting that his name was, indeed, on the resume!
Lesson: Go over your resume with a fine tooth comb. Then, have someone else go over it. Not having an error might not necessarily get you an interview, but having one could definitely land your resume in the trash pile!
If you find yourself in a precarious situation vis-à-vis your job hunt, calm down, regroup, and pay careful attention to every detail of your job search, starting with your resume!