In today’s competitive job market, employers can receive literally hundreds of responses to a posted job. A resume often creates the first impression a prospective employer will form about each candidate – and that first impression forms quickly. According to Business Insider, a career website, research shows “recruiters spend about six seconds before they make the initial ‘fit/no fit’ decision.”
“When it comes to mistakes on resumes, I’ve seen it all – grammatical errors, misspelled words, and even omitted credentials,” says Amanda Rajotte, director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College – Hopkinsville. Rajotte helps students and graduates prepare for professional job searches and conducts workshops on the fundamentals of writing resumes.
“I cannot stress enough that the resume is a gateway to an interview,” she says. “It’s worthwhile to put time and effort into creating it. If a resume contains mistakes, all the effort after that is wasted, no matter how many you send out.”
A resume is an important marketing tool that introduces you to a prospective employer in the professional world. Rajotte likens it to a 30-second commercial for yourself. It’s all about the proper sequencing of information relevant to the employer. “You want to highlight the good qualities and attributes that employers want to see; things that tie into the specific opportunity,” she says.
To this end, the objective is a good place to start. “This is a brief overview of what differentiates you from others,” says Rajotte. “It should be a brief, concise summary of your experience and education – just one or two sentences.” The objective should clearly identify the type of position you qualify for and provide a succinct statement of your goal.
Think carefully about – and always double-check – spelling. “Incorrect spelling worries potential employers. Candidates should spell check and double check their work by proofreading,” Rajotte says. It can help to let someone else proofread the resume. An extra set of eyes often finds mistakes.
What do spelling errors tell an employer about you? Monster says it tells them, “This person obviously doesn’t care.”
Grammatical errors also throw up a red flag. “Bad sentence structure and incorrect word usage are common mistakes people make,” says Rajotte. “These decrease your level of competency in the employer’s mind, and they move on to the next resume. Other typical resume blunders include incorrect capitalization of words, and failure to spell out acronyms. Not everyone knows what acronyms mean. Each one should be spelled out the first time it appears.”
The format of the resume is the next consideration. “The goal is to create a visually pleasing page,” Rajotte says. She recommends using a legible typeface and a readable point size. “This means scrap the script font, and stick to 10-point or 12-point type. Alignment is another big one. Always print a copy to see how it looks on paper. Don’t just look on screen.”
Once the resume is in top form, you have a better chance of landing an interview. After the interview, it is appropriate to send a thank you note. “Not everyone sends a thank you. It can set you apart from other applicants,” says Rajotte. Quintessential Careers found that just 5 percent of job applicants follow through with a thank you note. “It’s a nice way to build a relationship,” she says. “You never know when you might run into that person again.” She advises applicants to write a draft of the note before writing on a card. “Grammar and spelling matter here just as much as they matter on the resume,” Rajotte says.
When looking for employment, every step tells prospective employers about your communication skills. Whether you’re speaking on the phone, or submitting a resume, you are conveying a message about your knowledge and ability. Putting your best effort into the search can pay off with the job you are pursuing.