First impressions are lasting impressions. Unless potential employers are considering internal candidates, their first impressions of job candidates come from resumes and cover letters. Make a good first impression and improve your odds of moving to the next level in the hiring process. Fail to impress (or worse, succeed in making a bad impression) and you can say goodbye to a lucrative job opportunity that really would have been perfect for you.
The top mistake job seekers make is failing to even include cover letters for resumes. No recruiter wants to waste time on an applicant who can’t be bothered to complete this simple step. Read on to learn about the other common mistakes job seekers make on their resumes and cover letters.
Keyword Stuffing and Cramming in Too Much
Yes, you definitely want to use keywords that parrot the “must haves” HR is looking for in candidates for a specific position, but there’s an art to keyword use. If you overuse key buzzwords or use them in unnatural ways, it will be obvious you’re trying to pad your resume with certain keywords. Sure, your resume may pass the automated screening system, but it will likely turn off live recruiters.
Another common mistake recruiters hate? Use of tiny fonts and trying to load in as much information as possible. Any skilled executive resume writing professional will tell you it is far better to use fewer words but more effectively highlight your most important skill sets.
Making Careless Errors
It seems like a no-brainer, but a shocking percentage of cover letters and resumes include not only grammatical errors, but spelling errors that could easily be avoided by simply performing a quick spell check. Especially when you have your eye on an executive-level position, spelling errors are completely unacceptable. They tell potential employers you are careless and do not pay attention to details. Those are definitely not traits that will land you a job or even an interview.
Being Vague and General
Keep in mind recruiters may receive thousands of resumes. Winning resumes provide a quick punch list of your specific skills. Instead of stating on your resume you “worked with the marketing staff,” state you “led a team of six lower-level employees and boosted productivity 45 percent while reducing expenditures by $2.7 million.”
Not Selling Yourself
When you’re seeking a c-level or any other executive-level position, don’t risk missing out on the perfect, lucrative opportunity because your resume does not impress sufficiently to land an interview. Once you make it to the interview phase, you can sell yourself in great detail and show the hiring authorities why you are the right candidate. However, you can’t sell yourself in person if you don’t first sell yourself on paper with a resume and cover letter that stands out.