Wednesday , November 29 2023

Subtle resume mistakes that cost job seekers

When it comes to resumes, most people know to look out for the deadly spelling and grammar errors.  But did you know there are other factors that can be just as terminal?  Take a moment to see if your resume is carrying a hidden job search killer…


Strange Resume Names

Ideally, the document name for your resume should be your full name, plus title and maybe even a date so you can keep track of the current version.  However, too many applicants will use a secret code that they develop to manage their updates.

For example, instead of “Schmoe, Joe Household Manager Resume 2016.doc” or “Joe_Schmoe_Resume_2016.doc,” the recruiter receives “Resume v2.021216”.  Considering that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS, also known as online applications) are advanced enough to upload your Word document, you want it to be a search-friendly document.  This way, if you document gets separated from your main file, there is at least hope of finding it again.

When emailed as an attachment, the name game gets even more important.  Managers and recruiters can get nervous about email attachments from people they don’t know.  If the document name is a mix of letters and numbers, they are less likely to open it for fear of a virus.


Hidden Agendas?

I recently received a resume which was titled “FT Resume”.  In this case, it was the candidate’s initials; however, the connotation I interpreted was “Full Time Resume” – I had to read it twice to make sure what she meant.

What was even worse was my next assumption: if she is naming her resume for “Full Time” work, does that mean she also has a “Part Time Resume” out there too?  If that’s the case, a recruiter may doubt the dedication to a full time job.

Similarly, if the stated job title doesn’t match the desire job, it can be confusing to the recruiter as well.  In particular, if the candidate is trying to break into the private service industry, they may just use their business-oriented resume.  Nothing screams a lack of experience than a resume titled “Joe Schmoe IT Resume.doc” versus a clear statement of the target position.  If the job seeker is open to multiple possible roles – such as a household manager, personal assistant, chef, or any combination – the title should be Joe Schmoe Private Service Resume.doc.”

Missing Contact Information

There is a lot of debate on the internet as to whether you need your full address on your resume.  In my opinion, it depends.  For entry level or support positions like nannies and housekeepers, employers are more likely to interview candidates who are physically closer to their location.  As we move up into middle and upper management, relocation matters less.  At the bare minimum, consider listing your general location, such as “Denver, CO.”  This lets the recruiter know what time zone you are in when they call.

But there are some things that must be included: your email address and your phone number.  And yes, I have seen resumes recently that didn’t have a phone number on them.


Out-of-Date Email Addresses

Most people have heard that your email address needs to be professional, ideally based on your name.  But did you know that the service provider you choose can be just as deadly?

For example, if your email address is still AOL, this tells the recruiters and the hiring manager that your internet skills are dated.

Updating to a Google gmail account shows at least the possibility that you have access to more modern online tools, such as Google Docs and other cloud computing environments.


Resume Format

Another potential problem with resume is the actual format in which they are created. First of all, Microsoft Office is the standard for almost every business office in the US.  Even companies that use Mac products can purchase Office for their operating system.  If you are sending your resume as a .pages document (Apple’s word processing program), don’t be surprised when your recipient can’t open your document in a readable format.

Sending the resume as a PDF is a viable option, but only when the recruiters specify that PDFs are allowed.  Not all recruiters use the same ATS programs, and not all ATS programs can parse out the information in a PDF.  Plus, there is another issue specific to the private industry: the recruiter must be able to edit your document.  This may be as simple as removing your contact information or as advanced as placing your information into their company’s standard format.  If you send your resume as a PDF, this makes the process more difficult for the recruiter to change it.

About Donna Shannon

Donna Shannon, President of The Personal Touch Career Services, is one of the few career coaches who understands the unique nature of the private service industry. Drawing from both her corporate recruitment and luxury market placement experience, she has been helping job seekers with professional writing services, job search consultations and classes since 2004. Her book “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy” (2nd Edition, 2012) is available on Donna is based in Denver, Colorado, and works with job seekers across the country and abroad.

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