In only seconds, a human resources manager will determine whether your resume establishes you as the ideal applicant. However, many resumes never get past the initial screening stage because of common errors that candidates make -- such as failure to proofread, or not tailoring the contents to the job. Unless you pay attention to these matters -- and show how hiring you benefits the company -- your resume is probably headed for the trash can.
Bad Grammar and Misspellings
As often as candidates are reminded to do it, lack of proofreading plagues many resumes -- and it's usually a deal breaker for hiring managers who spot it, Florida State University recruiter Brent Miller explains, in an April 2012 column for "The Chronicle of Higher Education." The more misspellings and sentence fragments that a recruiter catches, the more likely it is that he will conclude that the job seeker doesn't pay attention to detail and isn't worth taking seriously.
Failure to Customize Resume
Sometimes a candidate has the right skills, but a hiring manager can't tell from the application. Every item on your resume must reflect the position that you hope to land, marketing strategist Ben Weiss asserts, in a July 2013 "U.S. News & World Report column." For example, if you can't correlate your work history with specific terms from the job description, it looks like you're applying for whatever position comes along -- and a recruiter won't bother contacting you.
False or Misleading Information
Honesty is a core value that human resources managers expect in applicants. Any hints of deception -- whether it's omitting potentially unflattering material, or trying to pad your work history -- will prompt a hiring manager to toss your resume, Miller notes. Even if you make it past the initial screening, a background check may still uncover the extent of your deceptions. Either way, enough doubts will be raised to derail your chances of getting hired.
Lack of Minimum Credentials
In any job search, a human resource manager's top priority is helping companies decide which candidates offer the closest fit. If your resume doesn't match the job description's minimum credentials, don't expect to get an interview, says Christina Lord, a technical recruiter interviewed for a January 2013 "Forbes" magazine article by recruiting consultant Angela Smith. No amount of inflated verbiage will convince a recruiter to bring in a candidate who lacks the company's desired credentials. In that situation, he'll simply move on to someone else.
Lack of Specifics
As resources dry up in a tight economy, companies tend to favor candidates who can make immediate contributions. Your resume must demonstrate your potential impact with examples to make your case, Weiss advises. For example, a sales applicant should omit vague adjectives, like "hard-working," and focus on specific goals that he's achieved. If a recruiter can't tell how much value your hiring might add to the company, you won't get a call back.