So here is the most effective way to get yourself NO interview (So do NOT do these :) )
Seriously guys, it's truly easy to do this stuff and I even admit to being guilty of some of these myself. So read and follow!
Resume Buster #1
Applying to firstname.lastname@example.org
The most common problem is having to send blind applications. You saw a posting that looks good, you're applying for it. And if you are currently desperate: You saw a posting that didn't even look so good, but was a posting anyway, and you're applying for it. Where do most blind resumes go? To jobs or resumes or email@example.com. When you do this, your application might be perfect, and it will still never be seen because hundreds of applications come to that one email address.
How to fix this
Find someone who works at this company. Search your network. Search your social media. Ask your professors. Find SOMEone, ANYone, who works at this company. Ask that person to forward your resume. Also, or secondly, find recruiters that target the industry you want to be in. Recruiters have relationships with HR people and if they want your resume to be on top, they can make that happen.
Resume Buster #2
Not following precise instructions
You think you have it all figured out. Your resume looks awesome, your cover letter fits its purpose, your supporting materials support your resume and match the objective and overall, your package is just perfect. And you still didn't get a call. Why? It might be as simple as not following a tiny part of their instructions. They wanted the resume in a .doc format and you sent a .docx. And you're out. There is an option for attachments, but the ad did not ask for any. Should you send supporting materials? Probably not. Yes, it'll make you look better in theory; but practically, you didn't follow instructions. WHAT? Yes! You are going up for an internship or an entry level position - you MUST be able to follow instructions precisely. This might be a way for them to weed out candidates from the very start.
How to fix this
See, this fix is very easy. Just follow the instructions! To the dot on the i and the cross of the t. Even if your version is better/looks better/represents you better... that doesn't matter if your resume is not even looked at, does it?
Resume Buster #3
I know I've said this plenty of times, and I will say it again: You can absolutely not afford to have typos on your resume and cover letter. Spelling mistakes are inexcusable. Period. Apparently, bad grammar gets a bit more leeway because they know they're dealing with entry-level or before-entry-level candidates and you're not quite expected to be perfect. But bad spelling is an absolute no-no. (And if I was you, I'd rather be perfect on the grammar as well. Being on the safe side and going the extra mile usually pays off, especially if you happen to look for a job in the communications field.)
How to fix this
Have a friend read over it (make sure that friend is VERY good at writing and proof-reading). Better yet: Have a professor read over it. Even better: Have your career center look over it. Even better than better: Have a career coach or HR professional (that your know) read over it. Do not send it off, no matter how time-sensitive, unless you are absolutely sure that there are no more mistakes on your documents.
Resume Buster #4
Don't you think it's a lot of work to write a personalized application? (If your answer is no - then, trust me, you're not doing it right.) Here is how my story goes: I find a posting that sounds interesting and I start researching the company. I make sure it is what I thought it was, it is within my field and expertise, it does what I want it to do, it has a reputation. I do basic research for at least two to three hours before even getting started on the cover letter. I research until I have a good hook for that cover letter and I can give them a real reason for why I want to work there.
And then I start from scratch and it probably takes me another good two hours to write the letter. Yes, I have a general outline. My first paragraph, my second paragraph, my third, forth and fifth paragraph always follow the same mantra; but they are always personalized to that company in that industry and written in their tone. And it is extremely important you learn how to do this.
Then I start editing it and revising it and cutting it - because surely enough, I had so much to say (come on, I pitch for a living) that it goes beyond that one page. So I spend another two hours editing. Then I have my boyfriend read over it. If it is especially critical and I REALLY want the job, I send it off to my mentors and have them read over it as well. Only when I am absolutely sure it's perfect, will I submit it.
Lather, rinse, repeat with the resume. Did I use all the right terms? Is it customized enough? Do my titles and my experience reflect what they're actually looking for? And another two to three hours go over to adjust my resume. And yes, you should adjust your resume with every single application you send. So now I just spend an entire day on ONE application. And this is why you need to choose wisely where you apply to and make those applications really count by doing it right.
How to fix this
HR people know when you're genuinely excited about a job and a company - or if you sent an application where you merely filled in a few blanks. Please do not think you can fool them or get by because your history seems so perfect for what they're looking for. They are doing this for a living, and they get hundreds of applications with perfect histories. It's an important sales strategy to learn that will benefit you for the rest of your life: Think like your audience. Put yourself in their shoes: If you were to read this application from a complete stranger - would you be interested in finding out more about this person? So you fix this blunder by thinking like your audience - by making this application as personal and targeted and appealing as you can possibly make it. You simply have to invest the time.
Resume Buster #5
Wrong Price Tag
Not every job ad will ask for salary requirements, but some do. I've been in interviews where the first question was what my salary requirements were. There are several trains of thought about this one.
The first: Ballpark them high. It shows that you know you're worth it.
The second: Ballpark them low so you're more likely to be hired because you will cost them less.
The third: Keep it "open" so the ball is in their courts.
The fourth: Give them a range, so the ball is kind of in their court, but you have your hand in it.
Ok, everyone, quick! Get out your scantron and your number 2 pencil - this is a multiple choice test! Seriously, here are my thoughts on this one: They ask for a salary requirement because yes, they want to know if you know what you're worth. BUT they want to know if you know this within the industry standard. If you ask for too much (the first train of thought), they'll think you're crazy and maybe just a bit too full of yourself (you're applying for entry level here, not a senior vice president position). If you ask for too little (the second train of thought), they'll think you don't know what you're doing and are hoping to get hired by keeping their costs low. Keeping it open works for college jobs where their salary is the same for all employees, no matter what (your typical minimum-wage jobs) - not for a professional position. They want to know - and I think this is key - that you have done your research and you know what the current pay rate for this job in this economy in this industry in this city is. It is really an easy way to show diligence. A source I like to use for this is www.glassdoor.com/salaries.
How to fix this
Do your research. Know what you're applying for and have a general idea what this position should pay you. As a general rule of thumb, I would use the range approach, but use a reasonable range. For an internship in the communications field, for example, I expect an $8-12 per hour rate - and if I get $10, I'm happy. For an entry level position, I expect $16-20 per hour, and if I get $18, I'm happy. Now, if you apply for a programmer position at Google, you should ask for $6000 a month as an intern. I do not know what professional programmers do earn or should earn and honestly, I don't want to look it up because I'll just be jealous. But the point is: Know these things! It's an easy way to show you're diligent and passionate to know everything you can about your industry of choice.
Resume Buster #6
Too long, didn't read
Some industries do want you to have a loooong resume. If you're applying to be an educator, please have a 6-page resume. If you are 10 years into your job within your industry, please feel free to have a two-pager. If you're applying to be an intern or an entry- level pretty much anywhere, please keep it to a page. Give them supporting materials if they ask, but keep your resume to one page. Keep especially your cover letter to a page. Once again: Think like your audience. Is it really necessary to put on this last job where you had the same position you already had for those last three jobs mentioned? Your audience will get bored looking at it. Is your cover letter really worth two pages? Are you THAT special? You think the one to two people that work in HR really want to read a 2-page cover letter from 300 applicants? They will probably barely read yours if it's one page. They might read the first two paragraphs. So please do use the pyramid format and make those first paragraphs count!
How to fix this
Know proper application etiquette and follow it. Your resume and your cover letter are one page long. The general theme always is: Cut, condense, leave out. If it is not absolutely vital to mention it - cut it or leave it out. If you're saying the same thing twice, or you're saying two similar things twice: Cut or condense. Be very precise. You do want to say applicable and smart things - but you want to say them quickly. You can elaborate when you get your interview.
Resume Buster #7
I am not talking about using templates here. I am talking about a resume that focuses on general tasks while it is filled with empty words. You had a position where you answered phones, you directed email, you organized files and you arranged travel plans. Yes, please do put that on. Especially when applying for entry level jobs and internships, those are important things to know and I do believe you should share that you know how to do these things. Be as specific as you can be, though, with these skills. What gives you a further edge is when you can connect them to an accomplishment. This one is tricky. You really have to search your brain for this one. But it'll be worth it. Now, some specialists say you should ONLY put your accomplishments on - no duties at all. I do not agree with that. Especially when applying for an entry-level job, you really need to show that you can do the job. You have to show them that you're detail-oriented and organized and you show that by telling them that you've done it all. Now: If you can connect those job duties to an accomplishment - THAT would be ideal and then I agree with it.
How to fix this
First of all: You personalize your resume, you always always do. Use the words they use. Leave off what they're not asking. If it's not related, then no one cares. It might be a great wonderful job you had and you learned so much - but it's not applicable... and now you just lost them. "Then she should go work there" is what they will probably think.
Second: You make your resume very specific. Don't say that you performed general office duties. Actually say what they were (unless your job was not really an office job and the "general office duties" were merely a tag-on to your actual job duties). Connect your duties to your title. Do the duties match the title and do they make sense for the position?
Third: Talking about the position: Be specific with your title. You were an intern somewhere. That's great. Specify what intern you were, so they'll get a better idea of who you are and what you're capable of just by giving the resume a glance (remember the 3-second rule).
Resume Buster #8
Yes, after I am telling you that you can be too general, I am now telling you that you can also be too specific. And this really is a fine line to walk and you might want to get help with this. You know you're supposed to use the words they use in the job description of the ad. That's great! You're supposed to do that. Especially when sending an application online, an automatic resume robot will weed out applications that don't use those words. But if your resume is too full with them, you might just look unbelievable. If there is nothing on your resume but their words, you might just look too good to be true.
How to fix this
Do keep your personality to the resume. Try to determine what the most important skills are they are looking for. If you know your industry, you generally know what's expected. Put those skills on your resume and use their words for those. Here is an example: Do they ask for media or press relations? It's the same thing, but use the word they're using for it. Do keep related skills on there that they didn't ask for but that are applicable to the job in general, just to make your resume look "normal." To stay with the example: If they ask for press relations with this and this and this and that and the other outlet or department, you might just want to say "press relations with various mainstream media outlets" instead of copying and pasting verbatim. Be smart about it. This is a skill that can be trained and that can be learned. And it does involve some trial and error. Keep your resume looking normal, like you actually wrote it. Do use their buzz words, but use the right ones, and don't ONLY use them.
Resume Buster #9
Not current language
Many recruiters say that resumes are often full of stilted, old-fashioned phrases that have lost their meaning. For example, one recruiter says that she hates the phrase "proven ability to..." What proves this ability? And what makes it better than the unproven ones? Another one she hates is "utilized my skills doing..." Of course you utilized your skills. Who else's would you use? How else would you do it? Just say what you did. "Results-oriented" and "hard worker" are a few more phrases that are out. It is assumed that you work toward results and that you will invest your all into it.
How to fix this
If you want to mention these phrases, do it in the cover letter, not your resume, and connect them with a specific example of how you did go beyond expectations to make a point. Everyone can say they're a hard worker. Prove it. Everyone can say they have a proven ability. Rather, tell them about how you applied your abilities and use the Situation-Action-Results model. You won't have to say you're results-oriented. Showing how and that you reached your goal says it so much better. Think critically about the words you use and try to see if you can make it more precise. Just say it as it is. We're in the 21st century, people have no time. Make every word count.
Resume Buster #10
From the start, I am not a fan of objectives. I think they're a waste of space. You apply for a job - your objective is to get the job. Or A job, any job. They know that. Now, apart from being a waste of space, an objective can actually be your downfall. Especially when you're not perfectly familiar with your industry yet because you haven't worked in it for 10 years, you might think a job is about something specific. But when you start working, you'll discover that it's really quite different than you thought it would be. Now imagine you put what you THINK it will be in your objective when that's really not at all what the job is about... you just disqualified yourself because you told them you're really looking for a different job.
How to fix this
Leave off your objective. I know that some professor or some book told you at some point to have an objective on your resume and then you just rolled with it, not thinking about why this objective is actually on there. Use some common sense! Jump into the 21st century! An objective might be necessary when you're applying to a company without an open position (and I advise against that for a reason to be discussed at another time). But even then they know: You're sending a resume because you want a job. They see what you're experienced with, so they'll know where to place you. Seriously: Why do you need an objective? Do you think they're too stupid to determine where you should be?
The time you spend on your job search is valuable, so be sure to use it wisely. Invest additional time and effort on applications for jobs that you feel are a great fit, and go above and beyond to be sure your submission gets attention. Getting a job today is not easy and you should use every resource at your disposal. And if you need help, you can always ask me.