The resume weeding process begins before I even click to open the document. You would be surprised at how many times I see brazenly unprofessional tidbits that make help me move on without wasting more than about 10 seconds of my time.
You may have created your personal email address ages ago without any concern about how you might be perceived if an employer of the future saw it. If you are in the midst of a job search, this would be a good time to take an objective view of your address. Someone seeking a professional career would be better served by firstname.lastname@example.org, for example, rather than email@example.com.
If I call an applicant, I get a lot of information before I even reach a live person. If I hear, “Please wait while I reach your party…”, then get blasted by rap or heavy metal music while I wait, it really doesn’t make a good first impression. It’s not about personal taste, it’s about professionalism…or lack of it. The same is true of your voicemail etiquette. Imagine the President will be calling, not your girlfriend or one of the boys.
Okay, I have to share this with you because it’s true and I still can’t believe it. Someone actually submitted a resume that listed “Diploma N All” as their education. Seriously? How can I take someone seriously if they don’t take themselves seriously? A resume or cover letter should not sound like a conversation on the street corner while waiting for the bus, even if that’s where you wrote it.
Cover letters should be short and sweet, hardly enough room to make a lot of mistakes. Read it a few times before you hit send. Spellcheck won’t notice if you write, “I really want to fork for your company.” You have to find those…before they go out! Regardless of your personal opinion, typos do matter to the hiring manager. If nothing else, it tells them just how detail oriented they can expect you to be.
If you want a job, you need to be on the ready. If a hiring manager sends you can email requesting an interview, the response should be the same day if at all possible. If it takes you a week to get to the library to use the computer and check your email, well, the job will likely be gone. If you submit an application, find a way to be accessible. Point out the best way to contact you in your cover letter. And, please, don’t have your friend take the calls for you unless they know how to handle it like a pro.
The types of warning signs described above are just that. On their own, in a vacuum, they mean nothing. But, when you are being evaluated for a position, you’re on stage and you don’t want to stutter. These seemingly minor points are a window into the bigger picture, and carelessness could make an employer doubt your ability to thrive in a professional environment. You have to show them your best face…from the very first moment.