Don’t be offended by this blog. I’ve done all of these things before, so I know from whence I speak. We all know about the standard resume issues such as spelling and grammar, that are so egregious your resume gets tossed immediately. This is about things you don’t even know you are doing, or not doing, that are costing you opportunities. You might say I’m just being cranky and you would be right, but when you look at hundreds of resumes each week, you start to get a sense of what hiring managers like and, more importantly, don’t like. So here we go.
1. Who Now?
This may seem like a little thing, but your email address might actually be costing you a job. I get that it can be tough to find one that isn’t taken, especially one with your name in it, but there has to be something that won’t make a recruiter say, “What the?” I know someone whose email is “nukeboy.” He works with nuclear reactors so it makes sense, but luck be with him if he ever needs a different job. If you’re starting a job search, make sure your email address is professional and preferably includes your name, even if you have to make a new one.
2. Say What?
We addressed the email, now let’s talk about your voicemail. I appreciate creativity as much as the next person, maybe even more, but with the potential of recruiters and hiring managers calling, you just can’t sound like a lunatic on your voicemail greeting. So take the music out, no song adaptations, don’t rhyme (“This is Stu, you know what to do…”), lose the attitude, and skip the slang. At least until you get the job.
3. Lazy Mazy
The only resume advice I’m going to give (ok, maybe a bit more is coming in point 4) is don’t copy and paste. Putting a good resume together is a laborious process. A tempting short cut might be to copy and paste the job description from your last job. The first problem is it is not in the past tense. You might be able to get away with present tense on your current job if you’re still working, but not one where you aren’t. Also, if it looks like a job description (and not a resume write-up), the assumption will be that it’s not an account of what you really did in that position. And if you’ve worked a number of similar jobs, be careful about using the same wording for each. I saw a resume of a collections candidate that had the exact same five bullets in all of his jobs. Sure, it was probably accurate, but it was obvious, blatant, and just looked lazy. Find another way to say it, change the order, reword it a little— whatever it takes to show some effort.
4. What ‘Cha Call It?
Similar to your email address, how you save your resume matters. Think about it from the recruiter’s perspective. They receive and need to save dozens of resumes daily. If your resume is titled “Résumé,” how are they ever going to find it again? It is your job during your job search to make it easy for them to hire you. Help them out. Save your resume as your first and last name.
5. Can You Hear Me Now?
There is nothing I hate more than when I call someone and they answer their phone. Well, when they answer it from the train, plane, car with the top down, police station, daycare, dog pound, or dark side of the moon. Okay, maybe that’s hyperbole, even for me, but you get what I mean. If you are applying for a job and get a call from a number that you don’t know, or from XYZ Company and you are not in a good spot physically (or emotionally) to engage in a meaningful and professional conversation, don’t answer it. And if you do, and realize it’s an important call, immediately apologize and ask if you can quickly call back or schedule time to talk. I know you are eager and want to show that you are available, but they just called you out of the blue, so they shouldn’t expect that you are ready for a phone interview. Good recruiters and hiring managers will understand and appreciate the gesture.
You know for a fact that nothing makes dogs bark and kids scream louder than an important call coming in. I once ran out the front door, slammed it behind me, and held on to the door knob with all my might to talk to what was going to be my new boss. Just make sure you are in control of your environment.
6. No Three-Day Rule
While I often relate finding a job to dating, one difference in a job search is you can never be too eager. If you get a call or email about a job, do your best to respond quickly (no three-day rule here!). Let them know you got their message and will return it as soon as you get to a place where you can do so thoroughly and professionally. I don’t want you trying to compose a serious note with your thumbs, but I don’t want you to take so long that they think you aren’t really interested in the position. Be thorough, be professional, and be responsive.
There are plenty of faux pas we make every day when job hunting; eliminating these six will put you in a much better position. Happy hunting.
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