As a professional rÃ©sumÃ© writer and an individual who believes that no one gets to where they want to be in terms of their career without help, I am going to share with you the Top 10 Typical Mistakes that candidates make that sabotage their efforts to seek out and secure the job and career they want:
Failing to understand the purpose of the rÃ©sumÃ©. First and foremost, the majority of those who fail at creating good rÃ©sumÃ©s is the fact that they really don’t understand its purpose. The true purpose of your rÃ©sumÃ© is to demonstrate to your future employer that you have the necessary qualifications to do the job. RÃ©sumÃ©s are a summary of your work history and the skills that you have acquired along the way. They should be formatted so that they are clean and simple to read and potential employers should be able to find the information they are looking for with a relative amount of ease.
Being incognizant of the fact that people don’t read rÃ©sumÃ©s and that computer scanners do! As people and organizations become increasingly time starved, they will seek out instruments that will make their lives easier. If the potential employer is a large corporation, they will, either hire people i.e. a recruiting company, to separate the wheat from the chaff, or, if the company does a considerable amount of hiring, incur the expense of adding rÃ©sumÃ© screening software to the human resources IT budget. This computer scanning software screens documents for key words as they delivered to the company’s electronic inbox in the same manner that software scans incoming electronic mail for viruses. If your rÃ©sumÃ© has the ‘correct’ number of key words, it will then be ‘flagged’ and a human will then have a look at the document. Once the resume clears this hurdle, the hiring manager will then take the time to view any other attached documents such as a cover letter.
Misunderstanding the true purpose of their rÃ©sumÃ© and cover letter. The purpose of a rÃ©sumÃ© is to summarize your skill set and the purpose of a cover letter is to demonstrate to hiring managers that you can form complete thoughts and communicate information in a grammatically correct fashion. These two vital criteria need to be cleared BEFORE anyone will ever consider calling you in for an interview.
Wasting time applying for opportunities for which they are not qualified. Looking for a new job is a full time job and requires a concentrated effort. Potential employers and recruiting agencies don’t have the time to play the numbers game and neither do you. It is inefficient and demoralizing.
Wasting time trying to compose what are perceived as being ‘ideal’ job objectives. These “Mom, God and apple pie” statements do not add anything constructive to rÃ©sumÃ©s and use up very valuable rÃ©sumÃ© ‘real estate’. Your rÃ©sumÃ© is a showpiece that identifies you as a brand. It is a piece of marketing collateral that needs to be designed to optimize and differentiate you from other candidates. Strive to be clean and concise and remember that less is more.
Not taking the time to customize both their resume and their cover letter. Sending out generic rÃ©sumÃ©s and cover letters will lead potential employers to believe that you are lazy and uncaring. Marketing collateral (rÃ©sumÃ©s and cover letters) needs to speak to every opportunity in a very specific manner. It is important to take the time to use the same verbiage found in the original advertisement. Rest assured that if industry or job specific terminology was used in the original advertisement, that potential hiring managers will be looking for the same terminology within the pages of the documents they receive in response to the advertisement.
Not taking the time to demonstrate through your documentation how your skill set is perfectly aligned with what the hiring manager are seeking in a new employees. RÃ©sumÃ©s need to concentrate upon transferable skills. Potential employers and hiring managers will want to know immediately what you have to offer. Nothing speaks louder than direct experience. Case in point: The modes, methods and principles in selling a particular product or service are the same regardless of product or service being sold. Make your case!
Burying career highlights in the bowels of the rÃ©sumÃ© rather than listing them near the top of the rÃ©sumÃ©.. Hiring managers LOVE to play find the gem in the rough. Re-state your career highlights in your cover letter if they are listed in the advertisement to which you are responding. If you are sending a cover letter and rÃ©sumÃ© to a company or individual that was not specifically requested i.e. in response to an advertisement, then you will need to state the purpose for sending in the documents. Those who receive your documents will want to know why they are being contacted and also whether or not they will be required to do anything as a result of receiving your documentation. Are you asking these contacts to enter your documents into their database for future consideration? Are you requesting an informational interview? Have you been referred for a specific reason my a mutual acquaintance? Etc. Whatever the reason, it will always be in your best interest to include a career highlight or two, just to set you apart from others who may have contacted this same individual for the same purpose.
Not taking the time to make sure that all of your marketing collateral is free from typographical or grammatical errors. This fatal error is completely avoidable.
Never bothering to follow up on the advertised opportunity. Why would you want to demonstrate that you want the job, anyway? Persistence pays!
Mary Salvino is a freelance writer and career/business consultant who lives in Vancouver, BC. She has more than a decade of experience in all aspects of retail management and is a valuable resource to both individuals and corporations in the area of strategic planning.