Job applicants aren’t stupid.They know how to use clean layout and list their accomplishments to get noticed. However, many of you overlook the pitfalls that would cause your resumes to be tossed in the trash.
Hiring managers have dozens, even hundreds, of resumes to filter through everyday. In order to cut these to a reasonable amount, they simply toss those that don’t make the initial cut.
Here are three pitfalls that are deal breakers for hiring managers:
1. You Don’t Meet the Basic Requirements
Many job seekers heed the advice of darer counselors and advice websites telling them to apply for as many jobs as they can, even if they do not fit the requirements of the job. “Resumes just won’t be considered if the basic skills aren’t there,” says Thomas Lang, a Human Resource manager. This is the first knockout factor for many. Make sure that you look at the requirements before applying for a job and identify if your skills are a match.
A similar mistake: You have the basic requirements, but they’re obscured by extra or unnecessary information. “Lay it out simply for me—that means less investigation I’ll have to do,” says Lang. For example, if you’re applying for a position in marketing, but your experience is a combination of marketing and sales, tailor your resume to focus on your marketing experience and skills, and minimize—or even remove—the sales information.
2. You’re Not a Culture Fit
When we refer to a cultural fit, we don’t mean how you’ll integrate into the company you’re applying too. That comes after you actually get hired. What we do mean is if you fit in the corporate culture of professionalism and meticulousness. Hiring managers expect to see the resume of an applicant who knows what the job requires and tailors his or her resume to the job. Summary statements that cover a wide range of skills and industries or cover letters that don’t mention the company by name won’t make it pass the first round.
To avoid the circular file, you’ll want to tweak your resume based on the position and company, making deliberate connections of how your experience, skills, and personality are a perfect fit for the job. Use industry terms, spell out accomplishments that you know will make an impact, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Lang remembers an applicant who listed, “I’ll drink an iced Americano any time, day or night” under the interests section, which not only revealed the applicant’s “personality and sense of humor,” it was a great fit for Lang’s agency, a highly creative design firm with its own specialty coffee shop in the basement.
3. You Don’t Pay Attention to Detail
When it comes to your resume, the devil is quite often in the details. Recruiters get annoyed by small things that you may not think of—like whether or not the text on your cover letter and resume is the same font and size (it should be), if your margins are off (makes it tricky for us to print), or to whom you’ve addressed the cover letter (it should be the recruiter’s name, not “sir,” “madam,” or “to whom it may concern”).
They’ll also take note if you don’t include everything the job posting asks you to send. A cover letter and resume? What about work or writing samples? Be sure to include everything that’s asked of you. Also, does the job posting refer to the position as Project Manager II? If so, state that in your cover letter, exactly—don’t write Proj. Mgr. or Project Manager. Companies put a lot of time into determining job titles, and when a recruiter is looking to fill both the Project Manager and the Project Manager II positions, any ambiguousness from you will make it harder for them.
Typos are at the top of the list when it comes to resume writing taboos. Don’t rely on spellcheck as it only highlights text that are not words, but not typos that spell other words. Get a part of fresh eyes (not your own) when vetting your resume, or engage a writing service that can also give your resume a pleasing layout as well.
Applying for a job can often feel like a huge challenge, and knowing that there are so many applicants out there can be daunting. But if you follow these simple rules, you’ll make sure your resume gets past the first hurdle: the trash can. Better yet, if you tailor your resume and make sure it’s a fit to the company and job, you’ll definitely increase your chances of getting to the top of the pile.