Resumes Don’ts

Recently MSN Careers published an interesting article, title “10 Ways Your Resume Irks Hiring Managers.” I’ve just been through hundreds of resumes myself as I am looking for candidates for vacant positions, so naturally the title is of a great interest for me.

The article lists the following 10 sins applicants make in their resumes. After comparing them with my own experience, here’s what I came up with (my comments in brackets):

1. Spelling Mistakes and Grammatical Errors. (Ah, this what makes my eyes glazed as I read resumes.)
2. Opening Objective. (No use whatsoever except for kissing up. Sometimes you have an eerie feeling as if a pair of lips were on your rear end as you read it. Especially when the objective is, “Giving my best contribution to the company…” It’s not that it’s wrong, really. But how can he/she knows that she/he can do that before an intensive interview?)
3. Personal Attributes. (We really don’t need to know that you have a black belt in karate. Unless we’re looking for a club bouncer.)
4. Interest and Hobbies. (Some interests do add value to your resume. But some are better to be kept to yourself. I remember one applicant wrote in his interest, “I hate the government.” It didn’t take me long to put that resume on the “Rejects” pile.)
5. Details of every task you’ve ever performed in every job you’ve ever had. (Some descriptions of past responsibilities do help to give an idea of your capabilities. But you don’t need 10 pages to detail them.)
6. Excessive Bragging.  (Unfortunately, I had no such luck with the resumes I read so far.)
7. Outdated Information. (I can’t figure out why some applicants still list their education way back to elementary school. Some even attached their elementary school diplomas!)
8. False Information. (One applicant had a suspicious name for his college. I googled it, and I found out the school was banned by the ministry of education because it sells out degrees. No need to say what I think about his impressive title and experiences.)
9. Unexplained gaps in  work history. (So far, no luck in this department.)
10. A lack of professionalism. (I got this a lot. From the way the resume is laid out, down to the ridiculous e-mail address. Would you consider an application from somebody whose e-mail address is his childhood nickname? With dozens of free web-mails available, I can’t understand why is it too difficult to create a separate e-mail account for business correspondence.)

Here are a few things that I would add to the list:

11. E-mailing resume to multiple companies in a single send. As soon as I see addresses other than mine in the “To:” field, I either perceive the applicant as being cocky (it’s like he’s saying, “hey, just  to let you know I’m not applying just to you,”) or simply as being too lazy to send each application in a separate mail. Cocky and Lazy. Those are two things in a person who I am so keen to keep as far away from being part of my company.

12. Wrong addressee. Some applicants sent too many resumes that they forgot to change the name of the recipient in the cover letter. I got that several times. Since it might  be just an honest mistake, I sent a reply pointing out the error, and ask for the applicant to send me another e-mail with the correct name in the address. When the applicant didn’t do what I suggested, I knew the person was just not worth my time.

13. Pictures Not Perfect. In Indonesia, especially in service industry, we do ask for pictures of the applicants. We do not mean to discriminate a person by physical appearance. We can learn about a person’s personality from the way he/she presents himself/herself in a picture. Also, it is a good security measure to know how a person looks like before inviting him in for an interview. Unfortunately, some applicants do not see this as an opportunity to sell themselves. Instead of a well-groomed image, they sent a cellphone photo, or a very miniscule graphic representation of themselves, or a photo so blurred it’s hard to identify the person. They took themselves for granted. Why would the hiring manager treat them differently?

14. Too Little Information. This is so true for fresh graduates applying for their first jobs. They thought that resumes can only contain work related experience, when they had none. Since they could not come up with anything they thought worth saying, they simply let their resume to be half a page long. This left very little room for discussion. And even the weather cannot make up for it. I had awkwards interview moments when I really did not know what else to ask, and the candidate had nothing else to say! When hiring new graduates, I like to probe for some activities in school that they are particularly good at. Anything that we can discuss in interviews that relates to work capabilities are worth noting.

15. Sending In Your Friends’ Resumes with Yours in a single e-mail. When all of you apply for the same position, and when you explain politely what you are doing, in the cover e-mail, it would not be a problem. Difficulties arise when each of you apply for different position, and you didn’t say anything in your cover e-mail. When handling this kind of situation under pressure of time, there is one thing the hiring manager will do: toss away the darned e-mail.

Well, that’s my take on what to avoid when making and sending resumes. Hopefully, it is of use to the readers.

Jotting Pad

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