Reviewing resumes is not fun for employers. It is tedious and frustrating because so many applicants make errors, are unqualified, or come across as unprofessional. Here are the first five things I look for as an employer when reviewing resumes.
- Who is this person? Does the name ring a bell? Might I know the person through my network and therefore be able to learn about the real him or her? If I know the candidate in some way, I am immediately more interested. So, if you can, reach out to a contact in an organization before applying for an opening. This step will most likely give you a leg up on other applicants. Although this action is not always possible, it is worth trying to make a connection, especially if you are excited about the job opening.
- Is the email address professional? I have seen job applicants use email addresses that are silly, nonsensical, political-sounding, personally descriptive, or borderline vulgar. I have seen job hunters list email addresses that they share with a spouse or that include their birth year. All of these uses show a lack of good judgment. When job seeking, use an email address that is some variation of your first and last names.
- Do I see typographical, grammatical, or other
errors? If a job seeker makes mistakes on a resume or cover letter, I fear he or she will make
errors on the job. Mistakes are an automatic rejection, so be sure to read your materials forward, backward, and out loud. Don’t rely on spell-check alone.
Ask a trusted friend with good writing skills to read it also.
- Are the person’s experience, skills, education, and traits relevant to the job? This information is key, of course. Yet it’s amazing how many people will apply for jobs that have nothing or little to do with a job opening. So please save your time and the employer's time, and pursue openings that are a good fit for your background and abilities. Also take a few minutes to tailor your resume to the job. See my Shy Job Seeker post, Customize Your Resume in 15 Minutes.
- Does the person have the right experience level for the job? If I need five years of experience for someone to do a job, I may consider three years of experience or eight years of experience. But I will most likely eliminate new graduates and someone who has been a manager in the field for 20 years. I want employees who can do a job but will also be challenged by it. If you are underqualified or overqualified for a role but interested in it, take extra time with your resume and cover letter to create a picture of why you are a great match for the job.
Employers go through resumes very quickly, so you need to make sure yours will stand out. Consider these five points, and you will take a big step toward getting hired.