A lot of highly qualified folks are out there looking for jobs right now, wondering why they’re not getting interviews. Tough competition, combined with the desire to make a timely hire, means that seemingly miniscule errors can get your resume thrown in the trash.
I know, because I’ve been on the hiring end, sifting through resumes that made me shake my head. It’s a damn shame because some of these people could have been a good fit, but with so much competition, it can really come down to something as trivial as a spelling error. Why? That error tells me that your “meticulous attention to detail” is a big fat lie.
It’s Not Your Fault
You may be very good at a lot of things. Perhaps spelling and grammar aren’t in that category. You shouldn’t have to suffer for that. A lot of my very talented friends are horrible spellers, and I do my best to offer my editing help whenever I can, because not everyone was born to write well. You’re probably far better at graphic design than I could ever hope to be.
What Can You Do?
Here are some suggestions for how to improve your resumes, and your chances of getting a job, or at the very least, an interview. Logically, you can imagine that these principles apply when you’re trying to sell anything with words.
1.) Delete your objective.
Get rid of extraneous content that doesn’t really mean anything. Yes, they know your goal is to get a job and apply your skills toward the success of their organization. You’ve sent them your resume, so it’s quite obvious.
2.) Ditch the clichés.
Meticulous attention to detail. Proven problem solver. Works well independently or on a team. Congratulations! These are the basic skills required to hold most jobs. Instead, give specific examples of how you’ve proven that you do these things. To put it in clichéd terms: show, don’t tell.
3.) Put your experience at the top.
The old templates have you entering your education first, but most employers want to see practical experience. Be sure to highlight the skills you’ve learned that make you a great candidate for the position. It’s also a good idea to highlight a key accomplishment that makes you particularly proud.
4.) Adjust your resume for each job application.
Know your audience. Look at the words used in the job posting and use them as much as you can. If something should be highlighted differently on your application for a Community Manager than on your application for Online Marketing Assistant, change it accordingly. And for God’s sake, if you’re applying for a creative position, make your application creative!
5.) Keep it brief.
Try to limit your resume to no more than two pages. These people are busy and they need pertinent information delivered in a neat and tidy package. Make it as easy as possible for them to decide to call you for an interview.
6.) Remove irrelevant jobs.
I hawked K-Swiss sneakers at Athlete’s World when I was 20 but my ideal employer doesn’t need to know that. However, if that kind of experience is relevant to your ideal career, leave it in.
7.) Get a friend to proof.
When you look at the same document for hours on end, you can miss things; it even happens to professional writers. Major magazines employ teams of copy editors to check and triple check everything before it goes to print. This is your livelihood, so you must take it just as seriously. At least get a second set of eyes to look over what you’ve done, so you can avoid that embarrassing error that costs you a job.