My job in human resources is never boring. Every day I’m astounded at what I see as young people apply for jobs with my organization. Most of what I see that causes me to reject a resume could easily be corrected, and (I suspect) most of these job seekers just don’t know any better. Therefore, here is a list of the top ten things to do when looking for a job:
01. Put your name and contact information on your resume — If I worked for the American Psychic Association, maybe it would be different. However, if you want me to contact you, I need to know your name and a working telephone number and/or e-mail address.
02. Choose a professional e-mail address to send your cover letter and resume — I recently received a resume with impressive credentials and experience from an e-mail address along the lines of email@example.com. I’m not kidding. Now, I could read two stories into that e-mail address, but I won’t. The point of the matter is if this is how you’re going to represent yourself, how will you represent our organization?
03. Do not include inappropriate pictures — Unless you’re applying to be a flight attendant, I don’t understand why you would want to include a picture on your resume. If you do, though, give some thought to how the picture will present you to a stranger. I recently received a resume that included a topless glamour shot, with the applicant covering her bare breasts with her hands. Maybe it would slide if you’re applying for a job as a wet nurse, but, again, it makes me wonder how you’ll represent my organization if you get the job.
04. Textspeak — As more people embrace smartphones, the more resumes are sent from them to me, often accompanied by messages such as, “WOULD LUV 2 WORK 4 U.” I often wonder what they would think if I replied back with “NFW!”
05. Be honest about your education — Recently, under “Education” on her resume, a job candidate wrote: WORKING ON IT. (Better to list no education.) List the school you attended, the degree you received, your major, and your conferment date. If some of this information is missing, a phone call often reveals you’re lacking the credential or it’s in an unrelated field of study.
06. Casual greetings on cover letters — For the love of god, please do not begin your cover letter with “Hey, girl!” or “Yo, what’s up?” Call the company and find out whom you should address your letter to, or go with “hiring manager.” Also, check to ensure you’re sending your cover letter and resume to the correct company. It seems like people would no better, but it happens a lot.
07. Identify the position you wish to apply for — I frequently receive cover letters and resumes that give no indication of the position they’re for. If I have to stop and figure it out, there’s a greater chance I’m going to set it aside or reject it. Also, when you write you’re interested in any position available, it’s just as desperate as last call in a singles bar. If you’re not qualified in the position you’ve applied for, and I see your experience and education would fit another position I have available, I will consider you for it. Trust me.
08. Send your resume only once — When you send me your resume over and over again without adding new information, it’s annoying and wastes my time. If you want to be sure I received your resume, call me and ask. I’m happy to do so. However, if you fax it again and again, you’re wasting paper and costing my company money. If you must send it to me again, consider adding something to your original resume. For example, if you’ve lost five pounds since you last sent me your resume, consider adding “[Your Name] Now with less fat!”
09. Prepare a short voice mail greeting that identifies your telephone number and name — I’ve encountered a surprising number of people who recorded long-winded voice mail greetings: reading scripture, playing their favorite ballad in full, or reciting “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” Please don’t do this. Just identify yourself by name and confirm your telephone number. I just want to leave a brief message for you to call me back. I don’t need to be converted, moved, or entertained.
10. Be realistic about your transferable skills — When you read our job ad, you might immediately think you’d be a perfect for the position, but honestly take a look at your education and experience. Case in point: Just because you trained seals at Sea World, doesn’t qualify you to teach preschool children. Trust me, it’s not the same thing.