Landing the job starts with successfully getting your resume to the hiring manager. If it never gets there, or if it's never read, you obviously have no chance. These tips will ensure that your resume makes it to your prospective boss's desk – and more importantly, into the "to be read" pile of applications. Don't get caught making one of these eight resume blunders. (Learn why you should hire a professional, in Resume Scribes Seal The Deal.)
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- Your Resume is Too Long
Some people are rigid about the one-page resume rule; others see no problem with extending it to two. But both camps would likely agree that any longer than two is a bad idea. If you send in a 23-page resume, don't expect to hear back – hiring managers are likely receiving tens, if not hundreds, of applications, and they won't waste their time reading your employment manuscript.
- You Sent In Duplicates
Again, with the multitudes of applications the boss will be wading through, he or she won't appreciate seeing the same resume twice. Proof your resume carefully, ensure everything is properly addressed, or attached, if you are sending via email, and send your application only once. Be extra careful if you are applying through a career or company-specific website that may have tricky directions.
- Missing the Deadline
While you may manage to squeak in a late resume if you're lucky, don't count on it. Take careful note of the job application deadline and send your resume in at least three days early, to be safe. Missing the due date is an easy reason to discount your application; after all, if you can't follow a job application deadline, why would a company trust you to be on time once you are hired? (Learn more about the hiring process, in Sell Your Skills, Not Your Degree.)
- It's Hand-Written
There are precious few jobs that don't require some level of computer skills, and even if the job you are applying for is one such position, don't handwrite your resume. It looks sloppy (even if you write neatly) and out of date. Other warning flags that may get your resume tossed include pictures, an inappropriate email address and personal information, such as your birth date, marital status or unprofessional stories - that time you talked your way out of a ticket for being drunk in public is not a good example of your negotiation skills.
- Poor Formatting
Just because your resume is typed doesn't mean it is exempt from poor formatting pitfalls. First, spacing, paragraphs and well-organized sections are your best friends. A resume that is one giant block of text will definitely be headed for the recycle bin. Make sure the formatting isn't too boring by including some bold, italic or slightly larger headings – just don't go overboard. On the flipside, don't make it too fancy by constantly switching fonts or using a non-traditional font. Especially stay away from fonts that are, by default all caps – there's just no way a hiring manager will suffer through reading that.
Finally, if your resume is written entirely in full sentences and has no bullet points, don't expect a call back.
- Incompatible Format
If you are sending your resume via email, the worst mistake you can make is sending it in a format the recipient can't open or doesn't recognize. If it is an unfamiliar format, it may be identified as spam or a virus. If your resume can't be opened effortlessly, without any new programs needing to be installed, it will likely be deleted. Also, don't choose a non-standard file format, even if it can be opened as a basic text file – your formatting will most likely be deleted and you will be back to the poor formatting problem.
- Missing Crucial Information
It happens – resumes do get sent out without addresses, contact information or, worst of all, names. Make sure it doesn't happen to you, by creating a short checklist that you can go through before sending off any version of your resume. Make sure it includes your name, phone number, a professional email address, your education, your most recent and relevant job experience and double-check the name and contact information of the person to whom you are sending the resume. After all, if you send a resume to the wrong person, you'll likely never know about it.
- Spelling Errors
It is said time and time again, but spelling and grammatical errors will win you no points in the professional world. If you aren't willing to send your resume to an editor, at least have a friend proof it for you – even if you are a good speller, you'd be amazed at what your eyes glaze over after you've been working on the same document for so long. You'll be glad you took the time to have a fresh pair of eyes take a look. (Take these basic tips to the next level, in Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance.)
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The Bottom Line
If getting the job is the successful completion of your quest, getting your resume in and read are the first trial by fire. Don't let these simple mistakes take you out of the running before you've even had a chance to compete.
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