Five months ago, I wrote a blog post discussing Things to Avoid when Applying for Jobs in Person. In it, I talked about my experience being on the other side of a job application; a rather steady stream of job hunters visit us at the electronics store where I work. Since then, I’ve seen several applicants make more easily avoidable mistakes.
For instance, I’ve noticed lately that many of the resumés brought into the store are completely generic, listing skills and qualifications that are not specific to any given career path. Many of the people I encounter—who are applying for a position at an electronics store—bring in resumés that mention absolutely nothing about consumer electronics. What’s even worse is when the resumés say nothing about sales experience or even an interest in sales. I can’t stress enough how important it is to tailor your resumé to the job you’re applying for. Prospective employers use this resumé to examine how your skills and experience relate to the position(s) available, and to decide whether you are a good fit for the given job. It should thus hit on specific qualifications the employer has advertised.
In my last article, I talked about the misguided individuals who bring in resumés that are folded, crumpled, and basically look like scrap paper. Beyond that, the overall layout and design of your resumé should be pleasing to the eye as well. One applicant was so intent on fitting everything onto one page that he shrunk the font to an almost unreadable size. Another fellow had large, unnecessary gaps between the different sections of his resumé, which made it three and a half pages long. It’s a shame when someone has great qualifications but their resumé is poorly designed or simply unattractive. If your resumé isn’t at least marginally presentable, you risk dooming it to the hiring manager’s recycle bin.
One of the more frustrating things I’ve experienced while working at my sales job is when someone walks into the store and tries to convince me that their son/daughter/friend/sibling is a very hard worker and would be just PERFECT for a job in sales.
“Please,” one lady said to me. “I know you would like my daughter very much! She is 21 and almost done school. Will you consider hiring her?” After politely listening to her and nodding my head, I said that it would be best if her daughter brought in a copy of her resumé herself so that we could meet her face-to-face. Then, after I told her that we fax all resumés to our district manager in Scarborough, her response was to ask me for the fax number so she could send the resumé herself. “Look, I’m sorry,” I said, trying to remain patient. “Your daughter needs to bring her resumé into the store, and we’ll fax it to the district manager from here. That’s how we do it.”
I have had two separate encounters like this in the past five months, and both times I was totally confused as to why someone would think it appropriate to approach a job opportunity this way. Nothing puts off a potential employer more than a resumé submitted by an applicant’s parent or grandparent—we’re looking to hire hardworking adults, not kids who need their parents to distribute resumés for them.
I realize I’ve said this before, but never underestimate the power of first impressions.
So, in summary, consider these resumé tips:
- Tailor your resumé to the job you’re applying for. Do this even if you’re attaching a cover letter for a specific position.
- Make both yourself and your resumé as presentable as possible. In other words, dress your best and tweak your resumé until it’s as flawless as possible (check out my blog post on How to Create a Perfect Resumé).
- Bring your resumé in personally unless the hiring company requests a different method (online, telephone, etc).
Read the rest of my advice here: Things to Avoid when Applying for Jobs in Person.