There are a lot of things you can do to get the job. These seven sins are a good way to blow it before you even have a chance to interview.
1) Misspelled words. Perhaps the most ironic resume I ever received was one that was littered with spelling errors from someone claiming “attention to detail” as one of their most noteworthy skills. Spell check is a beautiful thing.
2) Not customizing. Imagine that you want to hire a house cleaner and you get a resume from a horse trainer. It’s going to go right into the trash. Look at the job description, research the company, read the annual report, talk with current employees, and make sure your resume is not only a custom fit to the skills they need, but that it has the same vibe.
3) Not proof-reading. If your resume says “Page 2” halfway through page 3, it makes you look sloppy and unprofessional. If you’re e-mailing your resume, consider sending it as a pdf attachment unless asked not to send it that way. PDF’s are less likely to get infected or scrambled as they travel through cyberspace.
4) Using weird paper. Skip the pink paper with the scalloped edges, black paper with white print, or purple ink on a grey background. Executives know you want to stand out, but this is the wrong way to do it. Use white, cream or light grey paper with black ink and let your accomplishments do the talking.
5) Using a weird (or wrong sized) font. If I can’t read your resume, you’re probably not going to get the job. Times New Roman or Arial. Remember that often-times, those who will be reviewing your resume are over 50 and an 8 font is pretty hard to make out. Use a font size of at least 10. I appreciate a 12 font when I’m reviewing resumes.
6) Watch your language. The resume required by a law firm, a theater company, and a restaurant all require different language. Within each of those fields, specific jobs require a more formal or more casual approach. It’s important that you “speak their language.” You can get an idea of how to customize your resume from researching the company. Do a Google search to find interviews with the president or founder to get in step.
If possible, check the grade level of your resume. Most magazines and newspapers are written for an 8th grade level so that’s a safe bet in many fields. When the reader is unfamiliar with the vocabulary you use, you can come across as pretentious. When it’s written too simply, the reader may feel you’re less educated.
7) Scented paper – on purpose or by accident. Whether the paper is scented or it’s your aftershave or perfume that gets on the paper, it can be a big turn off to the person reviewing your resume. Also be sure your resume doesn’t smell like smoke (cigarettes or otherwise), food items or incense.
By avoiding these seven deadly sins, you’ll be more likely to get the call for an interview.
Best of luck!