You’ve spent hours on your resume. You’ve read the latest books and taken advice from experts. You’ve had three people look it over for grammar and spelling errors. You’ve printed it out on beautiful high quality paper, written a thoughtful cover letter, and researched the spelling of the HR contact. Nothing can go wrong with that much preparation – right? Unfortunately, even good resumes get overlooked, lost, or discarded due to jobseekers’ errors in judgment. Based on formal and informal discussions with hiring managers, here are some common mistakes that can sink your chances of getting noticed among dozens of resumes.
Timing your resume wrong. These days, any attractive ad will attract dozens – maybe hundreds – of resumes. Timing is crucial to how carefully your resume is screened. First, be sure to carefully check for a deadline for submission of resumes or closing of the job posting. No matter how amazing your qualifications, you won’t get a look if your resume comes in one minute after the deadline. Period. Be sure to leave plenty of time for mail delays, fax malfunctions, etc. Plan to have your resume on the right person’s desk at least one full day earlier than the deadline. If the recruiting period is long – say more than a week or two – be sure to send your resume in within that first week. A quick response indicates your high level of interest in the job. Some companies will keep a posting open only until they get a pool of candidates they’re comfortable with. When they have the right number of “good enough” applicants, they’ll start scheduling interviews, and you may not have a chance to get into consideration with a late entry.
Not putting your resume in context. WorkSource sometimes conducts high profile recruitments for startup companies or expansions. There may be as many as 10 – 20 different positions open at one time. That kind of large recruiting event is very challenging to manage, and recruiters need to be able to process resumes quickly. They need to be able to see at a glance what position you’re applying for. Too many resumes come in with no cover letter and no clear objective at the top of the resume. When responding to company with multiple openings, your resume should always reflect the position for which you want to be considered. No recruiter will want to take the time to guess where your resume should go. It’s easier to put it in a “not specified” file and leave it there.
Another common mistake is sending is a resume that’s obviously not qualified for the position. Recruiters view these as a terrible waste of their time, and with good reason. It’s also a waste of your time and resources to respond to every ad; companies are not likely to simply overlook the fact that you have none of the requirements for the position. Almost worse, and certainly puzzling, are candidates that apply for more than one position. Sometimes, it makes sense; you may have similar support positions in different departments, for example. But during a recent recruitment, several candidates applied for both senior director and clerical support positions, effectively removing themselves from consideration for either job. We wondered which one the candidate really felt qualified for. Other candidates applied for the manager position in every department, even though the jobs had vastly different requirements in experience, education and skills. We wondered if they’d even bothered to read the job postings.
Not paying attention to details. You should always include your name, phone number and page number on the second page of your resume. (Hopefully, your actual resume is limited to two pages.) But there may be times when you submit other documentation, so be sure to add contact information to that as well. If you’re sending a page of references, publications, awards, or other supplemental details, make sure that a recruiter can see at a glance where they belong. If the pages get separated at the fax or copier, you don’t want your important information lost or attached to another resume.
Paying attention to details also means that your resume has a clean, easy to read design, so recruiters don’t have to hunt for important information. You can help your chances of getting noticed by making it easy for the recruiters to understand what you’re applying for and why you’re the right candidate for the job. Don’t let your good resume get lost in the crowd.