A client recently asked me to read over her resume for her and about half way down the page I spotted a typo. She was of course aghast and commented that it must have been there for six months! Whenever you write a resume or cover letter triple check it, then read it backwards from the bottom of the page to the top.
This can help you from making one of the classic mistakes that HR professionals and hiring managers see all the time during the recruiting process. And they love to share their favourites:
- Instrumental in ruining an entire operation for a Midwest chain operation.
(It’s amazing what one letter can do to a word? Spell checking wouldn’t catch this. Ask someone objective to read your documents. Also, this accomplishment is missing the action step, in other words, how did you achieve the result.)
- I’m a rabid typist.
(Not only is this a typo, but you don’t need to use ‘I’ in a resume; ‘I’ is assumed.)
- Develop and recommend an annual operating expense fudget.
(Kind of a fun play on words actually)
- Work experience: Dealing with customers’ conflicts that arouse.
(What about the ones that weren’t so stimulating?)
- Education: College, August 1880- May 1984.
(How old are you? Plus, you needn’t mention the months you attended school or the start year, the graduation year is sufficient)
- Under personal interests: Donating blood, 14 gallons so far.
(This sounds a little creepy, stick to reading, gardening, travel and volunteer work.)
- I was proud to win the Gregg Typting Award.
(I wonder how the losers made out)
- Here are my qualifications to overlook.
(Consider it done)
- Qualifications: I am a man filled with passion and integrity, and I can act on short notice. I’m a class act and don’t come cheap.
(The qualities in the first sentence are not congruent with one another – passion and acting on short notice should be two separate points ; I won’t dignify the second sentence with a comment.)
Cover Letter Bloopers
- I am extremely loyal to my present firm, so please don’t let them know of my immediate availability.
(Mention your availability in the interview, not the cover letter. Oh, and look up the word ‘loyal’ in the dictionary.)
- I intentionally omitted my salary history. I’ve made money and lost money. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. I prefer being rich.
(When addressing the salary issue in a cover letter, mention your salary is negotiable or that you expect the industry standard. If you feel you have to mention a figure, give a range and mention if it includes benefits in or not.)
- Note: Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping.’ I have never quit a job.
(That’s good news, phew! Getting fired is sooo much better. It is only necessary to list jobs that go back 10-15 years maximum.)
- While I am open to the initial nature of an assignment, I am decidedly disposed that it be so oriented as to at least partially incorporate the experience enjoyed therefore and that it be configured so as to ultimately lead to the application of more rarefied facets of financial management as the major sphere of responsibility.
(If you wouldn’t – or couldn’t possibly – say this out loud, don’t write it on paper.)
Interview Bungles: Reasons for leaving the last job
- Responsibility makes me nervous.
(You might not want to mention that as a weakness either.)
- They insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 every morning. Couldn’t work under those conditions.
(That’s inhumane! We’ll be happy to support your sleeping in, by not hiring you. If it is flex time that you need or time in lieu, present what you want, not what you don’t want.)
- I’ve been working for my mom and she decided to leave the company. (So, you left too? Would we also be obliged to hire your mom to get you to work here?)
- They didn’t allow me to surf the web as often as I’d like to. They weren’t very nice about it either.
(A company computer is a tool in which to execute ones’ work, it is not a personal toy. You have to work within the policies of your employer – or go someplace else.)
- The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers.
(Do not mention anything negative about a previous employer, whether or not you think they were in the wrong. Plus when you’re the ’scapegoat’ for four jobs in a row, it suggests a pattern where you might actually be the problem.)
The job search process puts you out there in front of people with the written word, voice mail or face to face in an interview. You have lots of chances to slip up along the way, so take your time, triple check your work, think before you answer questions and get other peoples’ help reviewing your work as often as you can.
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking: How to Build Relationships That Count and How to Get a Job and Keep It