I have been reviewing resumes for two positions we have available where I work. To say that this is a frustrating endeavour would be the biggest understatement ever!!! I have developed this ‘Dear Applicant’ list in order to be of assistance to those of you who are applying for jobs and wonder why you never get a call back! This is only Part 1 of what I suspect will become a much longer post. Here are the first 7 points.

Dear Applicant – I would like to help you find your dream job. As someone who reviews resumes to fill positions on occasion, I have developed this list to assist you with this task. I am sure if you do not make any one of these classic errors you will succeed!

1.    Only apply to the email address provided. Do not and I repeat DO NOT show off your computer skills by finding every email address owned by the company and then send your resume to all of them. While some employers may be impressed by your ability to research the organization most will just be annoyed. Seriously this is a huge problem – at least 20% of the applicants for one position sent emails to almost everyone in the office. This meant that not only did I get the copy you sent to the correct email address, I then received no fewer than 3 other forwards because staff thought it was important that I receive them. If you can’t follow basic directions before you are hired how does this bode for afterwards?

2.    Do not put your picture on your resume. I don’t care what you look like. I am interested in your skills, what you can do and where you have worked before.          If I decide to short list you, I am going to be comparing the person in front of me with the picture. This will ultimately reduce the time I spend thinking about your skills and suitability for the job.

3.    Do not send your resume in word. Please convert it to a pdf. Why? Well it shows you can do it first of all. You never know what software is being used. While MS Word is ubiquitous someone may be using an older version and may not be able to open your .docx file. If I can’t open your file quickly I am not likely to spend a great deal of time trying to do so unless your email really grabbed me. The other reason to convert to pdf is that your resume contains personal information – information you may wish to ensure people don’t tamper with it. Yes, it is still possible to do this with a pdf but most people won’t bother to spend the time. Last, it shows an employer that you understand about document security. Where we are we don’t send anything out that electronically that has not been converted to a pdf.

4.    Try to tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying. Receiving a resume entitled ‘Jane’s new resume’ or ‘Bob’s security and office resume’ does not give me confidence. Even if the contents don’t change at least give it a meaningful title. Something like ‘Jane’s resume for ABC Company’ at least tells me that you thought about it.

5.    If you don’t exactly meet the job requirements then at least give me some idea that you understand about transferable skills. Tell me how you can fulfill what I am looking for especially when I have provided a complete job description for you to work from.

6.    Talking a lot about your religious beliefs and how you incorporate them into your work means your resume will not be considered. We live in a secular society and I cannot take the chance that you will proselytize to our very vulnerable clients. I need to know that you can separate your religious beliefs from your work obligations. If you don’t do that with your resume then Houston we have a problem.

7.    If you are trying to get a professional job please don’t use your teenage Hotmail account especially if you are in your 30s. Seriously seeing an email come from I’mapinkprincess@hotmail.com does not inspire confidence or show maturity.


4 thoughts on “Dear Job Applicants

  1. Imapinkprincess@hotmail.com!! LOL! I remember hearing somewhere that you just shouldn’t use a hotmail account as your contact on a resume, period. I used to use my sfu account because it was a bit of a resume in itself: @alumni.sfu.ca means I actually graduated from that university.

    The photo thing is weird too. It’s standard practice in other countries, so I suppose some immigrants or international students might not realize it’s a no-no here.

    Have you seriously had religious resumes? That’s just odd. Talking about that stuff on a resume would be like giving your measurements or declaring your sexual preferences or something… just… not necessary at all.

  2. Yes, please don’t email your resume to everyone, have experienced that too often. The doc version you should use varies from one org to another, don’t make a blanket assumption that it should be word or PDF etc. Every system, process is different so do a little homework before you merrily send your resume off into cyberspace. If you are applying for a job as a technical writer don’t send me a resume that states your objective is to obtain a position as a financial manager, that is just confusing and guarantees you will end up in the no thank-you pile.

    And for employers involved in the recruiting process-try to be kind and treat people with respect. People applying for jobs are not pets you are trying to train to roll over and sit, they are valuable potential candidates with skills, competencies and yes- feelings. Treat them accordingly. Cause too many of you these days are not.

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