Mistakes are an understandable part of life, but there are some errors so crazy they just make no sense. Here are some real resume and cover letter blunders shocked recruiters have seen over the years.
1. Asking the Employer to Interview with You
Ask what you can do for your employer -- not what they can do for you, says YESShr senior consultant Mic Fleming. He once saw an email with a resume that said: “Due to time constraints, I require a phone interview with a representative of the company who is knowledgeable in the position being offered and its requirements, before setting up a formal interview to ensure there is a proper fit for the prospective company and myself.”
2. Mistaking Your Resume for Your Attempt at the Great American Novel
No recruiter or manager wants to sit down to a resume that feels as long as “War and Peace,” says Lora B. Poepping, founder of Plum Job Search Strategies. “Typically a resume will be read for a total of 6 seconds. That means a three- or four-page resume is likely going to lose impact as the reader's eyes glaze over while reading your novella.”
Think brochure, not narrative, when you’re writing your resume. “Use bullets, tell stories of success and keep it easy to read,” Poepping recommends. “I have been able to take a resume from six pages to two pages.”
3. Listing Alcohol Tolerance as a Skill
Interests and personal hobbies that in no way relate to your professional goals don’t belong on a resume, says Erik Bowitz of Resume Genius. For example, Bowitz says once “an applicant listed ‘No. 1’ in a beer-drinking festival. One can only hope he was planning on applying to a brewery.”
Your victories in your personal life are significant, but not to your employer. In another resume Bowitz reviewed once, the “applicant included winning his Fantasy Football league as a major accomplishment under his achievements section. Unless applying for a job at ESPN this is a pretty ridiculous inclusion.”
4. Making a Bomb Threat
There’s nothing worse than making your prospective boss and co-workers fear for their lives. “The most bizarre resume blunder I've ever encountered actually came on the cover letter, certainly one of the strangest cover letters of all time,” says author and speaker Barry Maher.
A man who wanted a marketing or PR job at a local charity decided to show his potential employers how well he could grab their attention, says Maher. “He sent each board member a series of letters. The first had just his first name ‘John.’ The second read ‘John Smith.' Then ‘John Smith Is,’ ‘John Smith Is Going,’ ‘John Smith Is Going to,’ and ‘John Smith Is Going to Blow’,” eventually reading “‘John Smith Is Going to Blow You Away!’ Which is when the police showed up at his door. Before he had the chance to send out the next letter with his resume that explained just how his expertise was in fact going to blow everyone away.”
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