When a hiring manager screens a resume he’s basically looking for two things: What makes an applicant stand out and what knocks them out. This article will focus on the second part: Getting rejected quickly.
Weeding out applicants is easy: It’s the things that applicants do that are not appropriate, attempts to be funny, detractions from the resume content, or a lack of common sense. Here are some real life examples:
- Hype – Most applicants will attempt to make their experiences look a bit better. That’s generally OK, but it can be too much and look suspicious. Examples:
- “Increased the customer base by 200%” (If you went from 1 to 3 customers you’ll be found out quickly and discarded)
- “Part of a merger team” (If you only got the donuts and coffee, you won’t get far)
- Superlatives – This is where a lot of resumes get tossed, when exaggerations are thrown around without facts to back it up. Here are a few:
- Excellent Communications and Organizational Skills (how do you prove this?)
- Multi-talented Creative Professional (what did you do, how, for what results?)
When you use superlatives, be careful you don’t challenge your credibility. Be ready for concrete answers: What, when, where, who, how and why?
- Inserting humor – Comical email addresses may be appropriate to college chums, but hiring managers usually are not amused. Ladykiller.com, Singleguy.com or Princess.com should be used for friends or family (maybe). Create a professional email address.
- Overly creative formatting – Marketing and graphic art resumes can sometimes go overboard with designs that take away from the content of the resume. It may overpower the results you have achieved. The same goes for unusual fonts or color. Either add an attached portfolio of your work or suggest that examples are available upon request.
- Spelling or grammatical errors – You have complete control over these mistakes. With spellcheck and friends to edit, your resume should be error-free. If you can’t write a resume with good English and proper spelling, how is a hiring manager going to trust you with a project or report that is going to be distributed to management?
- No dates – Nothing will add unanswered questions from hiring manager than a lack of dates for schools, employment or gaps in time that is silent. Almost any problem can be worked around, except a termination for cause. You need only to go back 10-15 years.
- Too long with too little – Some resumes 3 or more pages and say very little about accomplishments or results. Keep it within 2 pages if you can. A list of responsibilities won’t help you stand out in a group of applicants. Make your achievements jump off the page: 20% sales increase in 18 months, reduced costs by 12% through process improvement, introduced a time-saving system.
Hiring managers have no time for careless or undeveloped resumes. Your competition is going to do it right, why can’t you?
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