Ever wonder if your résumé is up to the tough challenges of the current job market? With a large amount of top talent, like you, on the hunt for a new career, people are beginning to get a little creative with their résumés and cover letters to spark excitement.
While some spunk may grab the attention of the hiring manager, others are a downright no-go. Today, I couldn’t resist sharing a very interesting and rather baffling CareerBuilder survey I found called “Common and Not-So-Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job.” Here are the unforgiveable blunders they discovered:
Résumé was submitted from a person the company just fired
Résumé’s “Skills” section was spelled “Skelze”
Résumé listed the candidate’s objective as “To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUIs like my current employer”
Résumé included language typically seen in text messages (e.g., no capitalization and use of shortcuts like “u”)
Résumé consisted of one (run-on) sentence: “Hire me, I’m awesome”
Résumé listed the candidate’s online video gaming experience leading warrior “clans,” suggesting this passed for leadership experience
Résumé included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood
Résumé was written in Klingon language from Star Trek
Résumé was a music video
Résumé didn’t include the candidate’s name
On the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote “Mr.”
Résumé included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss
Do your résumés have any of these formidable faux pas? If so, time to do a serious round of editing to get it up to snuff! Take a look at my post, Reasons for No Résumé Responses, for more helpful hints.
I have just started looking for a new job, and recently I have been hearing about employers searching Facebook profiles before even interviewing a candidate. How can my profiles on social media sites impact my chance of finding employment? Thank you!
Dear, Fellow Facebooker:
Social media and networks have become an extension of our lives. We can catch up with old friends, learn about the latest news, and even get leads to open positions. But with all the positives that can be enjoyed, take your social experience with a grain of salt. Yes, employers are most definitely looking at the Facebook profiles of their candidates. After reading a post at one of my favorite blogs, TradePost, I was alarmed at how quickly Facebook screening is becoming a big issue in the employment world. For an idea of what I am talking about, read “Asking for Facebook Passwords: Good Screening or Bad Idea?”
Here are some of the dos and don’ts to adhere to if you hope make a great first impression.
Make your profile private. Put the security gates up before you start your job search. You can even hide your profile temporarily or make your name not appear in search results.
Keep your pictures G-rated. This includes your profile picture, pictures you have uploaded, and ones that your friends have tagged you in. Even if your page is blocked to the public, there may be a chance that the hiring manager is a connection with a mutual friend and can see your pictures. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of pictures of drinking activities, illegal drug use, sexually explicit images, and anything that you wouldn’t share with your grandparents.
Restrict wall posting privileges. We all have some friends who haven’t quite figured out what is appropriate (and what’s not) to post to Facebook. Be cautious on how much slack you give to these troublemakers and limit their ability to comment/post on your wall.
Untag yourself from professionally unflattering photos. Yes, we all have some great pictures that bring us back to our college days. Great for reminiscing, bad for business. Again, a G-rating is preferred.
Avoid controversial topic discussion. When it comes to politics, religion, and other social issues, it is best to remain neutral while hunting for a job. You are entitled to your own beliefs, but it is best to keep them under the radar on your Facebook profile.
Accept friend requests and invites of people you know. It isn’t uncommon for people to create fictional profiles to gather privileged information. If you have anything that you wish to hide (hopefully you have gotten an idea of what I am talking about by now), do not give strangers access to your profile.
Whatever you do, do not provide employers with your log-in credentials. It may hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but this a serious breach of privacy – and several states have even made it illegal for employers to ask. I most certainly would not want to work with a company that was comfortable crossing those boundaries.
I hope this will help all of my readers become savvier when it comes to their Facebook profiles. Managers and Supervisors, a must-read for you as well is another post of mine called “Facebook – A Hiring Manager’s Best Friend.”
Readers, what do you think is the most damaging discovery an employer could make through Facebook? What is your #1 Facebook profile no-no?
And if you still don’t believe me, check out this news clip about Facebook privacy and employment:
I have been unemployed for 2 months and try as I may, I still am having trouble finding employment. I am starting to get extremely bored and the excess hours of the day are beginning to get to me. With the large amount of free time on my hands, what can I do to during the day that will have a positive impact on my job search and my day-to-day life?
Dear, Stuck With Too Much Spare Time,
Being unemployed and having nothing to do are not as much fun as many people make it out to be. I bet for the first week or two, it feels like a nice vacation full of sleeping in, leisurely breakfasts, watching television all day, and kicking up your feet. But after a short while, those things you wished you could do while you were working are becoming unbearable and boring. If you are starting to feel down about yourself or feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I ask you to turn that frown upside down. It is time to start being proactive and getting your life back on track.
The first thing you need to do is set a schedule out for yourself. No more sleeping in until noon and watching television until the wee hours of the morning. Most people who are employed are up and out the door in time to be at work by 8 a.m. Now that you do not have a job, what do you think your full-time position is? You guessed it, JOB HUNTING! Immediately, go see my friends at Select Staffing and fill out an application. Chances are they will be able to enter you in their database and offer you advice on how to proceed with your search. You must dedicate at least 6 hours a day to searching for a job. That doesn’t mean just scouring the Internet; get out there and sell yourself. For tips and tricks on becoming a very successful networker, check out my post Networking Know-How.
Try to find a class in your area that will build your résumé and your skills. If you work in a warehouse, look into getting your certification in forklift driving. If you are in administrative or executive support, brush up your grammar and proofreading skills. Do something that will benefit you in the long run and help keep your brain from turning to mush.
Build your résumé while doing something good for others. Locate a charity whose cause is near and dear to your heart and start volunteering. This will give you satisfaction and look great to potential employers. Here you can gain professional and life skills, meet people that could help introduce you to new job openings, and also earn a great recommendation from your supervisor that can only shed a better light on your unemployment. I once volunteered at a local charity and after a few months of dedicated service, I was offered a paid position in their Career Center.
Surround yourself with positive EMPLOYED people. This is a very important piece of advice to follow. Typically, people who are unemployed will not be happy with their situations and will inevitably bring you down. They will be more likely to engage you in activities that do not mesh well with job hunting activities. People with jobs will be able to share advice and connect with other professionals, possibly resulting in your next job lead.
Cut out the junk food and take some time to get your body moving. Exercise is a great way to spend an hour of your day. Getting your blood pumping will increase your energy level and spread those happy endorphins through your body. It is proven to relieve stress and ward off depression. Healthy foods will give you more energy and make you feel much better, both physically and mentally. Remember if you put good in, you will get good out.
As tempting as it maybe, try to avoid reading the bad news about the job market and the economy; it will only bring you down. Switch over to reading uplifting books and inspiring stories to keep you in a chipper mood. Go by yourself to see movies that bring a smile to your face. It actually gives you a greater sense of independence. I definitely suggest you give it a try.
Set daily and weekly goals for yourself. These do not need to be huge or intricate. Day one can be as simple as waking up at 8 a.m. and apply to 3 viable jobs. If you do that every day for a week, you have 15 job applications and résumés out in the world. Now that is an accomplishment! As you achieve more, you will begin to feel better and more confident in your abilities. Just remember you won’t get anywhere without putting one foot in front of the other.
Now that I have given a few tips, I want to hear from my readers what they find to be the most important advice for keeping your sanity while seeking employment. What things did you do while you were searching for a job?
I am currently on the hunt for new employment opportunities and, with my busy lifestyle, I am finding it difficult to look for jobs while I am out and about. Recently, I have noticed that a number of companies have developed applications for mobile devices.
What are your thoughts on these applications, how will they help me, and where should I start my first download to maximize my efforts?
Dear, Tech-savvy searcher:
Thank you for the question about such a hot topic, considering 77% of job seekers use mobile job search applications. Nowadays, you can find a mobile application for almost anything you can imagine. Everything from child distractions to restaurant finders to major time wasters! All are right at your fingertips. But the best thing to come to job seekers since the résumé are employment apps for mobile devices.
As you have mentioned, only a few companies have put their resources into developing productive and user-friendly applications for job seekers. And since yours truly has finally stepped into the 21st century and picked myself up a nifty smart phone, I figured it would be best to take a test-drive of these applications.
Some great things to note about job seeker apps on your mobile devices:
Many of the best applications are FREE to users. Utilize the free options before trying any of the pay-per-download apps. I think you will be just as surprised as I was by the functionality of these free apps.
At all times, you are able to have the tools needed to apply immediately to an opportunity. You can provide contact information, apply with your LinkedIn profile, and more with a few taps on the screen.
GPS is often used to determine the distance that you are from a job you are interested in.
Scroll through and share positions that you, your friends, or your family may be interested in.
If you are currently employed, you can discreetly search and apply for positions on your lunch break.
Recently, I returned home from a deployment to Afghanistan. Since coming home and taking a much-needed break, I feel that I am ready to join the civilian workforce and begin supporting my family again. Like many other veterans, I am running into some difficulty finding gainful employment and paying the bills. What advice can you give to me and other veterans looking for employment and experiencing the hardships of transition? Thank you!
Dear, Valued Veteran:
First and foremost, thank you for your service to our country and for the sacrifices you have made in the name of freedom. I can speak for many reading this blog that we greatly appreciate your efforts and dedication to the United States of America.
Unfortunately, as you mentioned, transitioning into the civilian workforce and regular life after serving in the armed forces can be difficult. Not only do you face the same challenges as those currently unemployed, but you must also acclimate to new surroundings and hone your military training to fit open employment opportunities.
To get the ball rolling, make sure that you register with Veteran Affairs (VA) as soon as possible after you are discharged. You should qualify for medical and dental insurance. These benefits will diminish your financial burden significantly if unexpected medical emergencies arise. Co-pays for preventative medicine and routine exams are relatively low for this program and maybe expunged if you are unable to afford them.
Next, I suggest that you take some time to sit down and write a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter describing your skills, experiences, and work ethic. These items are job hunting gold and are necessary in landing your next career. For tips and advice on how to create and perfect these documents, take a quick look my posts How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter. If you feel like you need additional help, you can look into services such as CareerPerfect to write your résumé and cover letter for a nominal fee. The VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program also has services that can help.
Some strong qualities and experience to highlight are:
Problem solving skills
Flexibility and decision-making abilities under pressure
Other relevant experiences
Also, take your military occupation code (MOS), area of concentration (AOC), Air Force specialty code (AFSC), or Navy enlisted classification (NEC) and enter them into a skills translator, like those found at www.vetsuccess.gov/military_skills_translators, to turn them into commonly desired skills in the private sector.
Now that you have a strong and noteworthy résumé and cover letter, head on over to my friends at Select Staffing for employment assistance. Visit their website (www.selectstaffing.com), fill out the online application, and call your local office to schedule an appointment with a recruiter. Select Staffing is actively seeking skilled, dedicated, and versatile veterans for a wide variety of positions. They highly value the characteristics, commitment, and skills possessed by servicemen and women and are determined to do their part to help.
I know that they are currently recruiting for the following positions:
Data Entry Operator
Business Intelligence Analysts
And much more!
If you are looking to sharpen your skills and become educated in your field of interest, sign up for the GI Bill. Once you have done so, get in contact with Veteran Affairs Education and apply for benefits online to help cover tuition, books, and living expenses while you are in school. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this benefit as you will strengthen your résumé and have better chances of landing a lucrative career.
I found a great webinar that I think would be great for all veterans to watch, titled “Job Search Tips: Webinar for Military Veterans Transition to Civilian Careers” by Lida Citroën. It is a bit longer than my typical videos but worth the time.
Readers, what advice do you have for our recently-returned Veterans?
Veterans, what have you found to be the most helpful with you return to the civilian workforce?
I am desperately seeking a job and I feel as though I am sending out résumés left and right with no response. I have experience in a variety of fields and have been stretching the boundaries just to find some type of employment. What am I doing wrong?
Hi, Craving Call-backs,
Thanks for the question. I have a feeling many of you out there are experiencing this problem in your job search. With the lagging economy, fewer employers are actively hiring large numbers of people and the competition for those jobs is much steeper.
I have come up with a list of 8 reasons why you may not be getting the “we must hire them” response. Check them out below.
1. Applying for a job you are not qualified for. Many of you are looking to find any job available and have tried applying to jobs for which you do not meet the minimum requirements. It seems like it is worth a shot, right? Wrong. Unbeknownst to the masses, job descriptions do serve a higher purpose than just putting some text out hoping to hook a few applicants. They clearly spell out the necessary skills, training, education, duties, and responsibilities of the job. If a company is looking for a person with 5-7 years’ experience in the automotive sales industry and you have 2 years of sales experience and love cars, odds are you won’t get the call-back. It’s better not to waste your time or theirs by submitting your résumé. See my advice on when to go for it and when to forgo it in my blog Applying for a Job When Not 100% Qualified.
2. Generic cover letter and résumés. Employers are well aware of job seekers that work on autopilot, distributing the same résumé whenever they feel even the slightest pulse. Before you send out a résumé or cover letter, take the time to tailor it to the job you are applying for. For a full list of tips on how to do this visit my post How to Tailor Your Résumé. As for cover letters, do your research and include the hiring manager’s name, company name, and business address, even when it is an email. If you need more pointers, see my other post called Covering the Cover Letter. Remember, it is the little things that get you noticed.
3. Generic job title. As we have seen in the previous section, generic is not the way to go. It can come off as lazy or disinterested. If the job description says they are looking for the Director of First Impressions (or receptionist, in layman’s terms), by all means put that as the job you are striving to obtain!
4. You don’t live there. If you are looking for a job in a city other than where you reside, you will most likely be pushed to the wayside. Employers do not want to pay for relocation and do not want to interview a candidate they know is not in the area. If you have friends or family who live near the job location, use their address on your résumé. Check out my post Landing a Job Long Distance for more advice.
5. Keywords in job description not included. With the large influx of résumés coming in for advertised positions, many companies do not have the time to read them all. It is common practice now to feed résumés through software programs that pick up keywords that apply to that position. If you do not reach the set number of keywords necessary to move to the next round, your résumé will be discarded. A great way to lower your chances of this happening is to skim the job description and include as many keywords as you can without being grammatically incorrect or overly obvious. See ATS 101: Demystifying Applicant Tracking Systems.
6. Didn’t follow instructions. Be sure to read the job description very carefully. Some employers have very strict standards and procedures on how they accept applications, résumés, and other materials. If they request that you send your résumé in Word and you send them a PDF, right off the bat, you have shown you cannot follow directions. Who wants a person like that as an employee? If they require that you submit three references and you submit two, odds are that you will be rejected before you can say “hire me.” By the way, this includes salary requirements. I know it seems you’ll be pricing yourself too low or too high, but there are ways to give a number and then indicate you’re flexible.
7. Focused on duties, not accomplishments. Employers want to see what you have accomplished, not what you did on a daily basis. Accomplishments show drive, ambition, productivity, and more. List actions that you can take credit for. Try to use words like managed, implemented, developed, applied, created, etc.
8. Typos in résumés. Punctuation problems, misspelled words, and goofed-up grammar force many employers to slam on their brakes. With computers, spell-check, and (I know I will sound old here) plenty of dictionaries, there is almost no excuse for you to have grammatical errors and typos in your résumé. Do not always trust spell-check; go through the entire document from bottom to top and read every word. Proofread it over and over again and ask for feedback from professionals you trust. If you notice a typo after the fact, do not send a corrected version, but definitely fix your résumé before sending it out to the next opening. Be sure to check for these common mistakes I find all the time:
Is the correct word there, their, or they’re? It’s or its? Where or wear? Figure it out, and be right!
Bulleted items should only end in a period if they are complete sentences.
Jobs, activities, and accomplishments you have had in the past are in past tense. Those that are current are in the present tense (manage vs. managed, raise vs. raised, negotiates vs. negotiated).
I hope with these tips you can begin to see the résumé response from employers you are looking for. It is also important to remember that recruiters and employers are swamped with job inquiries. Give it about 1-2 weeks before following up with that prospect or putting that position behind you. Keep your chin up and your attitude positive!
Readers, have you had trouble getting résumé responses from potential employers? What have you found to be the best trick to get the call-backs rolling in?
I was recently laid off from my position as an Accounts Payable Clerk and my severance package is just about to run out. I was offered 2 months’ pay after the layoff, and I have been living off that while looking for a job. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find gainful employment and now will be filing for unemployment. How do I go about filing for and obtaining unemployment benefits?
Dear, Moving Forward,
Thank you for the great question. It can be a difficult time maneuvering your way through a layoff and coming to terms with what your future may look like. After you have exhausted your severance package or if you were not presented with a package, you may feel like you are up the creek without a paddle. Try your best
to remain calm. You do have the option to receive unemployment for up to 99 weeks if necessary.
Every state has a different process and procedure as to how you go about obtaining these benefits. Most states allow you to file a claim right from your own home or wherever you have access to the internet by completing an online application. If you do not have this type of access, you will want to visit the state’s unemployment office or see if you can file over the phone.
Be prepared with specific information that may be asked by your state’s representative. Each state varies on their requirements, but a few pieces of key information are listed below.
Former employer’s name
Former employer’s address
Former employer’s telephone number
Employer’s Federal Identification Number. (located on your pay stub)
Your Social Security Number
Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
Employment start and end dates
Compensation amounts, typically just your wages
Grounds of your release or termination of employment
After you have submitted the initial application and are approved, you will be given the option to reapply for aid each week. Funds are typically paid to your bank account, via check, or sent to a debit card. Select whichever method of payment fits your situation the best. If you choose direct deposit to your bank account, be sure to submit a voided check to verify your routing and checking account numbers.
More details and information about filing for unemployment in your state can be found visiting your state government’s unemployment office.
My final piece of advice is to not stop your job search! As a matter of fact, some states won’t continue sending you checks unless you prove you have applied to jobs each week. I will be writing an article soon on what you should do while you are unemployed to increase your chances of landing a great job. Stay tuned for this post. In the meantime, I have a quick video I’d like to share with you that synopsizes this post.
Readers! Have you had to file for unemployment benefits? Share with me your experience and how you are overcoming adversity.
Hi Anita! I am new to the area and in search of a new job. I have heard and learned from reading your blog that networking is one of the most important aspects of job hunting. Can you offer any advice to help break the ice and get the most out of professional networking?
Thank you so much for the great question. I have said time and time again that networking is extremely important when it comes to finding your next position. The more people you know, the more likely you are to bridge the gap between being a stranger or being the candidate that comes highly recommended. Getting your foot in the door and your résumé to the top of the pile is an incredible advantage in today’s world.
First off, get yourself a professional set of business cards with your contact information on them. Even if you are not currently employed, you should still be prepared. Being able to exchange business cards is networking gold! Think about it. How embarrassing is it to be empty-handed when you finally meet the CEO of the company you are dying to work for and he/she asks for your info. You just blew that first impression. Companies like Vista Print offer deals where you get 250 business cards FREE! All you pay is shipping and processing. Now you have no excuse not to have them! Include your name, address, telephone number, email, and other vital contact information.
One of the big No-Nos in networking is focusing your attention elsewhere, as in playing with your phone or carrying on a text messaging conversation. It makes you look disinterested, unapproachable, and worst of all, unprofessional. Do yourself a huge favor and leave your phone in the car or keep it in your pocket on silent. You are networking to meet new people, not to catch up with old ones.
Many of us, including me (I know, HARD TO BELIEVE), can find ourselves at a loss for words when placed under pressure or in a new social setting. Before you go to an event, prepare and arm yourself with what we call an “elevator speech.” When a hiring manager or person of interest asks you “what do you do?” or “what are you future career goals?” you will be ready to give them a response with a punch. You will leave them with an impression that you are smart, confident, and maybe even their next star employee!
Keep your spiel short, sweet, and strong for the most impact. Also be ready with follow-up questions to keep the conversation moving. (Check out my “Sell Yourself… Quickly” post for more tips.)
Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to others. This is probably the most difficult part of networking. It would probably be easier to be a wallflower and blend in with the crowd, but that is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. If you see a group of people talking, pick up your head, perk up your posture, and stroll over and introduce yourself. The more you do it, the less awkward it gets. Before interrupting their conversation, however, do be sure you read their body language; if they’re having a serious and intense discussion, wait a bit before going over.
Check out this video on Networking’s Golden Rule for one final tip:
Readers, what tips and tricks have you found helpful during networking opportunities?
I’m looking for work and want to be presentable when cold calling & interviewing but it’s hard in this heat to not wear something comfortable. What colors should I lean toward when I am going to an interview or cold calling (in person), etc? I really appreciate your posts and you always have excellent advice.
Hi, Color Curious,
Thanks for the question. Color choices say a lot about who you are right off the bat. It shows all sorts of emotions and personality traits and can even evoke feelings from the person with whom you’re interviewing or meeting. Research has shown that nonverbal communication accounts for 85% of communication exchanges between two or more people. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you are communicating the right vibe and professional language when searching for a job or participating in an important meeting? I would definitely hope so!
You want your color palette to be professional, clean, and not overbearing. I suggest sticking with a solid base color and accenting with brighter colors and patterns. Read on to find out which shades make the grade…
Navy Blue – This is the most popular color because it presents a sense of strength, dependability, friendliness, and light-heartedness — all qualities that a hiring manager is looking for in a candidate. I suggest selecting this color for your suit or main outfit components.
Gray – The most popular color after navy blue is gray. Gray is the color of intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and expectancy. It provides a neutral canvas for you to wear a bright-colored tie or blouse underneath.
Black – Black is a great color to incorporate in your wardrobe for job interviews. It is very commanding of attention and suggests possibility and potential. Interviewers may react to this color as sophistication and polish. It can be overpowering, sending messages of arrogance, so I would use this as an accent color or for a top or bottom, but not both.
Red, yellow, and orange – Steer clear of these three strong shades. These colors can be overwhelming and can overpower the senses. They evoke passion, romance, and emotional response — not the best thing for job interviews.
I only selected these colors as a guideline. Depending on the type of job that you are looking for or the company’s environment, you may want to branch out from this modest color selection. If you need more information or need advice, do your research! Visit the company’s website or even call the office and ask what is appropriate.
What are some of your winning color stories? Did you wear something out of the box that landed you the job? How about some clothing mishaps that you wish you could take back? We all know we have some…
I am graduating from college this coming August and have started to take on the full-time job of seeking employment. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Management and would like to pursue a career in Human Resources. Can you point me in the right directions to landing my dream job?
Thanks for the question and congratulations on graduating! It is that time of year again when college graduates are getting their minds into full-blown job-hunting mode. With our country’s job market still a little shaky, recent college graduates will need to work harder than ever to gain employment in their field with the perks they desire. I hope most of you have taken the time out of your school schedule and obtained internships or even positions with companies that you wish to work with in the future. If you have not, have no fear. Miss Anita has some tips and tricks just for you.
To start your search off on the right foot, you must begin developing and building a network through personal and professional contacts. You never know who may have the inside source to lead you to your first out-of-college job. The more you interact with your peers and other professionals, the wider you will make the road of opportunity.
The single most important pieces of paper that you can have during your job search are a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter. Many universities and higher education institutions offer résumé writing assistance and with some tips from yours truly, you will be on your way to employment in no time. I suggest that you check out two of my posts, How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter, for some more information on the subject. Be sure to include work and volunteer experience, hobbies, and educational background. Make the hiring managers take notice and have a reason to call you for an interview.
I know we all fantasize about the dream job that we wish to have right out of college. For some, this may become a reality, but for the most of us, it will take time to obtain the skill sets needed for the position and to move our way up. If you are offered a job that is not in the ideal field of your choice or may not be exactly what you are looking for, take the job. Every job opportunity is a gateway to any number of experiences that will benefit you in the future — not to mention a great résumé builder.
Before exhausting every job board, website, and career center on the web, I suggest filling out an application and scheduling an interview with a temporary agency like Select Staffing. Temporary positions will allow you to dabble in a variety of fields and give you great experience. You can test out what you like and don’t like about a job and learn about the working world. Very often, these temporary positions turn into full-time employment with the company you are working with. For more information, visit their website at www.selectstaffing.com .
Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.