Have you ever wondered what hiring managers are really thinking when they review your application? Sure all the usual resume rules apply like use correct punctuation and highlight your relevant experience, but what makes your resume really stand out from the rest? More importantly, what keeps it from ending up in the reject pile?
Don Fornes, the CEO of ERP Software Advice, recently revealed 10 screening secrets he uses when filtering through job applications. Instead of filtering for who he should hire, first he looks for candidates to reject. It sounds harsh, but when reviewing hundreds of applications at a time, managers look for any way to be more efficient.
To help you avoid some of the “head-smacking” errors often overlooked by job seekers, be sure to read through his article: Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers. Here is a quick preview of Fornes’ recommendations:
- Don’t name your resume, “resume.” About a third of applicants name their resume document, “resume.doc.” “Resume” may make sense on your computer, where you know it’s your resume. However, on my computer, it’s one of many, many resumes with the same name. I used to rename them, but then I noticed the strong correlation between unqualified candidates and the “resume” file name. Now I reject them if I don’t see something really good within ten seconds. By using such a generic file name, the applicant misses a great opportunity to brand themselves (e.g. “John Doe – Quota Crusher”). If you’re qualified enough to sell or market for us, you won’t miss the opportunity to at least use your name in the file name.
- don’t use all lowercase. i’m not sure where this trend originated. is it some text messaging thing? it’s so easy to capitalize properly on a keyboard. how much time is this really saving you? to me, it screams out, “hi. i’m lazy. my pinkies are really heavy and I’d rather not move them to shift. when i start working for you, i’ll look for other ways to be lazy. i’ll also rebel against authority figures like you, just like i’m rebelling against the english teachers that dedicated their lives to helping me become literate.” seriously though, this bad habit buys you next to nothing and is bound to offend countless detailed-oriented hiring managers.
- Don’t write like a robot. I’ve noticed a funny phenomenon with many grads that are entering “the real world.” While their speech is still littered with “ums,” “likes” and “you knows,” their writing is exceedingly formal, long-winded and boring. The people that are reviewing your application were young once too. They may still be young. Most of them have a sense of humor. They get bored. Please, don’t make them parse dense cover letters and resumes that read like some robot ate a thesaurus and puked. Just use concise, well-written prose. Keep sentences short. Toss in a joke or two. Show us a little bit of your personality. We’re going to have to work with you more than we see our spouses, so show us that we’ll enjoy it. No robots.
Go read Don’s other seven suggestions – Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers.