As a former Human Resources Generalist, Manager, and Hiring Manager in sales and customer service, I’ve seen my share of resumes, good and bad. Presently while working as a manager of a team, I get an influx of resumes in my fax machine daily and to be honest, I end up pitching most of them. Why you ask? Because they are poorly written and really don’t tell an overall complete story of a person’s work history. Which, in fact, is the reason we have resumes. To show prospective employers of our past work experience. A lot of people think that if their resume is written in the form of an actual resume, it is “good”, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even resumes that are written by so-called professionals usually don’t make the grade when it comes to passing MY test.
So what keeps your resume in the consideration pile and not in the recycle bin?
Here is a short list of things that I look for when I am reviewing resumes:
- Be complete yet comprehensive- When looking at a resume, I am looking for a complete picture, not fragments of your work history. But I’m not also looking for a biography. When deciding what to put on your resume, be complete but be brief. If you worked two days at Office Max in the copy department before quitting because another job called you, there is no need to include that on a resume. If you volunteered for two hours at a homeless shelter, do not put this down under volunteer work. Only put down items in which you have spent some time doing. Do not pad your resume with items that you did not spend a lot of time doing, and make your descriptions brief and to the point.
- Leave the artsy stuff alone- Unless you are applying for the job of a graphic artist (and even then, be careful) do not get carried away on your resume by including hard to read fonts, fancy calligraphy and word art, hearts, stars, neon yellow paper, and things of that nature. I know some think that by including their resume on fuchsia pink paper with glitter will make theirs stand out amongst the rest, but when I see resumes such as these, in the recycle bin they go. I am all for creativity but not in a resume. I want something easy to read with professional looking font, no calligraphy or word art. Simplicity works best on a resume and will give you better chances of getting a call for an interview, via in person or over the phone.
- Delete this from your resume: References Upon Request- In these days in times, everyone is fighting for a J-O-B. One of the first things I look at on the actual resume is references. Not including references on your resume is a problem. The manager may not be calling your references right away, but seeing the type of references you have says a a lot about your character. And the fact that you listed them means you have nothing to hide and you potentially won’t be the type of person we have to pull out information from. When I see a list of references on the resume, I am more likely to call the applicant back for a screening phone interview. They get moved up in the pile quickly.
- Grammatical errors/misspellings: I won’t spend a lot of time on this one because it is self explanatory. Have your resume proofed and edited by at least three sets of eyes other than yours. There is nothing worse than seeing a great resume but with poor grammar and spelling. Don’t do it!
- Templates & Cover Letters: With the advent of Word, WordPerfect, and the like, it is now easy to create a professional looking resume in record time but not rely on just the template alone to do the work for you. A template is just that. It’s a guide, a map for you to use during the creating process. It is not for you just to delete what is there and re-add your information. When I see templates from the same resumes using the same wording and such, I begin to think that the person is lazy and doesn’t have much initiative. Use the template as a guide and CREATE your resume from it. Do not use it as your actual resume. Same thing with cover letters.
- Be genuine with your cover letter: Write. Your. Cover. Letter. And do not just send out stock cover letters that are written in a way that it blankets all of the jobs you are applying for. That is not a good look! Personalize the letter. Find out who is in charge of hiring if the information was not given to you. Don’t preface the letter with To Whom It May Concern, etc. Be as personalized as you can be. Remember, there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of people who are applying for the same position you are. Be memorable (in a good way). Same thing when faxing your resume. You may be faxing to several employers at one time, but make sure each fax cover sheet is addressed to the appropriate person.
- Email Resumes? Be very careful when emailing your resume. Make sure that you are using a program that can easily be opened by anyone. Do not assume that the person opening it is running the same operating system you are. Encrypted, jumbled and unformatted resumes are the worst! Personally, I like to receive resumes by the traditional ways of fax and snail mail but I do understand email is probably the fastest way to get yours to the employer. Just be mindful that the person receiving your email may have a hard time reading your attached resume. Attach the resume using a popular program like Word (not the Vista and up version but as .DOC) and also copy and paste the resume on the body of the email. That way, they are assured in seeing the resume.
That is just a quick list of tips I advise you to use when submitting your resume. Good luck!