In my current job, we are hiring for an “administrative specialist.” (If anyone wants to submit a résumé, shoot me an e-mail off blog or leave me a comment which won’t be published). Since I am the office supervisor, it has largely fallen to me to read over the résumés submitted either in person or online through Monster.com.
Given the current job climate (not phenomenally good or bad but mediocre), I have been astounded (one might even call it flabbergasted) at the horrendous level of résumés that have been submitted. We have had a few stellar ones, but mostly they have been stuff my 6th grade teacher would come out of retirement to beat me with a ruler if she ever got wind that I had turned in such odious fare.
Now, I am not a marketing guru, job head hunter, or a flaming grammar Nazi (okay, maybe the latter), but here’s my two cents for anyone considering submitting a résumé for a job. They seem pretty simple, but they do make a major difference, even if you are just mindlessly submitting them over an online job site:
1. RULE OF THUMB #1: First impressions are lasting impressions. This does not mean you have to make some fancy pants, artistic Word document masterpiece with logos, etc. Your résumé is the first thing a supervisor sees about you. If it looks sloppy, hasty, or written by an incompetent, then my first impression of you is just that. Believe me, if I have several résumés to scour, a badly presented résumé does to the bottom of the “last resort” pile.
2. Write a cover letter. This is a really nice touch, if you can do it correctly (see Rule 3 below) with proper formatting. You can keep it short and to the point: namely who you are, what job you are applying for and why, and why you think you are suited to do the job. Again, this can be done in two or three paragraphs, but it really is a nice touch that most people do not bother to do. I can tell you that the very few that sent appropriate cover letters when straight to the top of my “check references/potential candidates to interview” pile of résumés.
3. Proofread your résumé and cover letter for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. You do not have to write a Shakespearean masterpiece, but glaring errors (particularly multiple errors in the same document) really do not make me want to check your references if you are not even competent to write coherently.
4. Include references and their contact info, and try to have as many professional references as you can. . A majority did not bother putting any references on there at all, and when the first thing the boss says is, “Check their references,” you have a major problem out of the gate. If other résumés have references I can readily check, they have a major advantage because, frankly, I don’t have time to be a private investigator.
a. Conversely, make sure your references will say something positive about you. I mean, listing the nun at your church as a reference who can’t really say anything good about you when queried is not cool. (This happened. Seriously.)
5. Include your academic background and applicable job certifications. Your college degree and what it is in: helpful. Your certification as a fire arms instructor with the NRA: not so helpful unless you are applying to be a security guard.
6. Include your applicable job skills. Again, typing 60 WPM: good. Listing that you were great at your job of ear piercing at the local jewelry store: kind o’ creepy for a neurology office. (Seriously, we had one like that…)
7. RULE OF THUMB #2: Think Succinct. You have a lot of cover in a résumé: academic background, basic contact information, job history, references, list of skills/certifications. Be accurate and thorough, but to the point. A 8-page résumé is fine for a criminal background check, but not so much for a job application.
8. One last thought: including court pleadings and divorce decrees explaining your criminal record:
While we appreciate honesty, we toss that application.