Recently, I noticed certain disturbing resume trends that have serious impacts on candidates’ job search. Some of them are new variations on the old mistakes and some are new problems that arise from the prevalence of app-based job searching. Hopefully you won’t fall for these insidious mistakes and ruin your chances of getting more interviews…
New problems with punctuation and grammar
Everyone knows to check their resume for punctuation and grammar, right? Apparently not. In most cases, the obvious errors are caught with spellcheck and online grammar programs like www.Grammarly.com. However, modern social media has made us blind to a new problem: capitalization consistency.
For example, your name. The first letter of both the first and last name needs to be capitalized, which is true for both your resume and your LinkedIn profile. In cases where you are consciously choosing to leave everything on the resume lower case for a style choice, make sure that EVERYTHING in the resume is in lower case. Nothing stands out like a glaring error than a lower case name and capitalized job titles. By the way, this style trend is usually not appropriate for private service.
Similarly, be consistent with job titles. If your immediate job is listed as “Household manager,” don’t list the following job as “Personal Assistant.” Or worse, a “private Chef” followed by “PRIVATE CHEF.” Being inconsistent is one of the easiest ways for a recruiter to spot a mistake and disqualify a candidate in 10 seconds.
Words that slip by spellcheck
So not only does spelling matter, but usage does as well. The sentence “managed the household and provided personal assistance to there Principals” is technically spelled correctly, however, it is the wrong “there.” It should read “supported THEIR Principal,” as in possessive to the household.
Not following directions
This was my favorite trick when I established recruiting procedures for one of my past employers – in 2000! The trick is simple: the recruiter will place specific steps to follow or documents to submit to be considered for the position, usually the resume and a cover letter. It may further define how to apply for a job, such as using LinkedIn, their own website, or emailing to a specific address. Anyone who doesn’t follow the steps gets disqualified because they did not follow clear, written instructions.
What’s sad is that with the rise of app-based recruiting on sites like LinkedIn.com and Indeed.com, the application process has been sped up to a matter of simple clicks. In some cases, it takes an extra step on the applicant’s part to attach the resume, not to mention the cover letter. Even when applying to a job from LinkedIn’s website, there is only space to upload one document. Job seekers must show initiative and create a new document that includes both the cover letter and the resume. Unfortunately, many job seekers don’t take this extra step.
And “optional” documents or uploads? Those aren’t really optional. Just think about it: if 30 out of 100 candidates take the time to upload their resume and cover letter as well as their LinkedIn profile, they will gain more serious consideration because they have gone beyond just doing the minimal requirements.
Not fine tuning the application
Practically every estate staff employment website allow candidates to upload their resume. The problem lies in that it will not always parse, or auto-populate, the application fields cleanly. When dealing with employers’ individual sites, the problem becomes more prevalent.
Anytime you have to upload your resume, double-check the actual application fields. Make sure everything was parsed correctly. If not, make the corrections. However, don’t replace your Word or PDF resume with the application. Send both. And by the way, even professionally-written resume will need to have the application reviewed. I personally applied to my own job with multiple different formats to test our templates. Fine tuning the application was a bit tedious, but considering that this is the first impression a recruiter will have, it is a wise time investment.
So what’s your point?
One problem with using cookie-cutter resumes or cover letters is that the company has no idea why you applied to their position. Worse, you may be using an objective statement, summary or cover letter that is actually contrary to the position. I have seen resumes stating they want a Medical Assistant job when applying for a Personal Assistant role. Similarly, the cover letter says they only want to relocate to the East Coast but the job is in Los Angeles.
If the recruiter can’t even figure out why you applied for the job, there is no way that you can land the interview.