Last week in Why I Rejected Your Resume, I wrote about the numerous unbelievable mistakes people made when applying for a job I posted online. This week, I'd like to go beyond just describing what things to avoid when applying for a job and talk about some active steps you can take to get your resume to the top of the hiring manager's pile. Here is a list of reasons why I didn't reject your resume.
1. You followed all the instructions in my job posting (which were very simple, but I wanted to make sure you were paying attention).
2. You wrote a cover letter that indicated that you have a personality and are not just another mindless office drone.
3. Your resume showed a varied work history (like farmer, accountant, photographer, and line cook) that indicated a unique individual with many interests--someone who would be interesting to work with. (I know, I know, your resume is supposed to show that you've worked in the same field with increasing responsibility since you were four, and it's not like that doesn't work most of the time, but it's not the only way to get a job.)
4. Your resume and cover letter had a clean, attractive layout.
5. Neither your resume nor your cover letter contained any typos.
6. You have at least a bachelor's degree.
7. The word "utilize" did not appear anywhere in your application.
8. You sent your resume and cover letter in PDF format, which looked so much more professional than sending it in Word--all the proper nouns in your resume didn't have that distracting red squiggly mark under them, and I saw the document's format exactly as you intended me to, not as Word randomly dictated. (Before you start moaning about the exorbitant cost of Adobe products, go to download.com and get yourself a 100% free PDF creator program.)
9. Since you didn't know my identity, you used a gender-neutral introduction such as "Dear Hiring Manager" for your cover letter
10. You contacted me via a professional-looking email address and your real first name and last name showed up as the sender in my inbox.
11. Your resume and cover letter indicated a solid command of English grammar and style.
As you can see, it really isn't that difficult to set yourself apart from the crowd when applying for a job. Just put the kind of extra attention and care into your resume and cover letter that you want your potential employer to think you will put into your work for them each and every day, and you'll do fine. You still won't always get called in for an interview, of course, but you'll increase your chances dramatically.
Photo by Not Quite A Photographr
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