For years now, I’ve been working with clients in my role of an Employment Counsellor. I’ve shared my stories about some of the people I help, perhaps you’ve read the blogs I write and heard the advice I give. You might know how successful I’ve been in helping others reach their independence through employment. One such reader who is responsible for hiring yesterday told me, “I’ve just received and looked through 50 or 60 resumes today and only now I truly appreciate what you’ve been saying. I can’t believe what people send in on their resumes and letters!”
She cited examples of people reducing the font on their resumes because they wanted to get everything on a page but the overall effect forced a person to strain as they read it – that is if they didn’t just toss it aside. Then there were people who had double spaces after each bullet on their resume creating a very long document on multiple pages. There were people who also went to the trouble of increasing the size of the font to a massive size, some who used multiple fonts and one that chose a hard to read font.
But the mistakes went on. Some folks hid their qualifications seemingly on purpose; interspersing the critical job requirements they have throughout from beginning to end, sending the reader on a perverse treasure hunt to locate them. One person actually wrote, “I woke up this morning, saw the ad and thought I might as give it a go”. Well that sounds like someone who really targeted this job as a career move doesn’t it? Oh and there was the person who said they had great attention to detail and misspelled a word in the sentence.
Now lest you think it depends on the job these people were applying for and the relative education level of the people applying, these resumes were sent in response to a Management posting. If these submissions are examples of the very best these people can produce, just imagine the care and detail they’d take on a daily basis working in the job if ultimately hired.
Look, if you are going to apply for a job, submit something that does you credit not harm, and follow some very basic guidelines.
FONT: Ariel font size 12. That’s it people. It’s boring but easy to read. No italics – no not ever. Your only other possible choice is Times New Roman. Why? Applicant Tracking Software reads Ariel. Italics and those cute little boxes some people use don’t get read by the machine. So anything in those boxes or in italics gets skipped and ignored.
QUALIFICATIONS: Look at the job posting. Whatever the employer has listed as essential qualifications should be included in your resume right near the top under a heading ironically called, “Qualifications”. The employer wants to know if you meet their core requirements within the first few lines. If you hide it near the end, they may not get past the first section of your resume to determine this. Make it easy for them.
IT’S NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT: One person wrote in their cover letter that they wanted the job because it’s close to their home. Do they really think the employer is going to invite them in for an interview because that’s their driving force for applying for the job? How about actually referencing the requirements of the job? Newsflash, employer’s don’t really care what you want. They want to know what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. You’re not applying for charity, you are applying to a business, so act like a professional and tell them how you will meet the requirements, how they’ll benefit from having you and most importantly why you are right for the job.
DEMONSTRATE YOUR FIT: You should be able to show how your education and experience together have prepared you for the job at hand. It should not come across like you spotted this ad while eating your breakfast cereal and thought you might as well give it a shot and see what happens. If that’s how you want to go to a yard sale on the weekend fine, but it isn’t how you impress an employer. Tell the employer flat-out that what they need and what you offer match up well.
ASK FOR THE INTERVIEW: Oh my goodness. You start off telling the employer in a letter that you are applying for the job, talk about your skills and experience, and at the end dance all around asking for an interview but never actually come out and request one? Isn’t that the intended purpose of the cover letter and resume submission? Be assertive; “I am requesting an interview to discuss this position in-person with you and/or your hiring team.” That’s not really so hard is it?
GET TO THE POINT: If you have a degree or diploma, put that in your qualifications section near the top of the resume. Sure, go ahead and also add it in the Education section of your resume which is near the end, but in that section you’d add where you got it and other courses etc. you’ve taken.
CONSISTENT FONT: No you shouldn’t have one font for your name, another for headings, another for content and a fourth for dates. You can increase your name and the job you’re after, but keep the rest in size 12 as mentioned.
Let’s get it together people.