HCI has been in business for over twenty years and has seen more resume mishaps than I’d like to think. Some of them make me giggle, others make me wonder about the applicant.
Consider these issues when crafting or updating your resume:
1 ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
This one bothers me not just because it seems like the author is yelling, but also because of the hidden spelling errors all caps camouflages. Many people don’t realize that most word processing software like Microsoft Word will not catch errors written in all caps unless they’ve specifically changed the settings. This is because all caps is intended to spell out acronyms, which aren’t typically in the dictionary anyway.
Capital letters should be used sparingly because readability is reduced and slowed because the height of every letter is identical making every word a rectangular shape, forcing the reader to read letter-by-letter. So instead of changing your software’s settings, change what you have typed to sentence case. It’s not only less annoying, it’s also easier and quicker for the reader to grasp.
2 Typos and grammatical errors
Continuing along the same line, use your word processing software to your advantage by correcting the underlined misspelled words. Be careful though. Homonyms and sometimes grammar issues will not be identified with the software, so it’s best to read and re-read your resume, then have someone else take a look at it.
I have written and edited numerous documents where I did not identify a single error, yet when someone else read it, they found mistakes. A simple suggestion is to read the resume aloud as if you are talking to someone. My college technical writing instructor suggested reading the resume in reverse as a way to check spelling.
3 Silly email addresses
Imagine if your resume comes across the desk of a Human Resources professional who is looking for someone with exactly your qualifications. They look at your contact information — firstname.lastname@example.org — and pause while they contemplate your level of seriousness.
If you have a fun email address, that’s great. Use it and enjoy it for personal use, but create a professional one that reflects who you are as a potential employee. Your email address should not be suggestive, silly, flirtatious, or unusual. Instead, consider an email address using your first and last name. Having a second email address might come in handy to help you separate your professional mail from your receipts, order confirmations, and family correspondence.
4 Don’t lie
Your potential employer will check your references and employment history. If you wrote that you worked at a hospital for 6 years, but the Human Resources Department says you were only there for 6 months, you won’t look like the upstanding employee they were hoping to hire.
Assume your resume will be verified — including your certifications, licenses, and degrees — so write it with honesty. Simply explain your work history gaps to your recruiter; they will advise how you should proceed.
5 Make your resume visually attractive
If your resume is the 20th the Human Resources representative has seen that day, you want it to stand out by looking as professional as possible. A bright pink resume using a pop art-esque font may not get considered as the exact same resume written in a sleek, uncluttered, and simple font. Consider using Times New Roman or Arial in 10-, 11-, or 12-point size in black. Be sure your name and contact information are legible using the same font.
As always, proof your resume when you finish creating or updating it. Then once you are done proofing, proof it again! Then, after getting someone else’s comments, proof it again. The goal is to submit an error-free resume that lands you the job you want.
And please remember, the abbreviation for assistant is “asst”, not “ass”. That missing “t” can really hit you in the behind.