Here are some stats and information that you might find interesting:
- Employers (e.g., hiring managers and recruiters) only spend about 7.4 seconds reading the average resume.
- Approximately 75% of resumes aren’t viewed by a human since Applicant Tracking Systems scan them.
- Big companies like Google receive over 50,000 job applications with resumes per week!
So, what does this mean?
If your resume isn’t cleanly formatted and focused on essential information, it will get tossed into the recycling bin. Your resume should follow a consistent format.
If you don’t take the time to customize your resume to map it to each job listing, your resume won’t make it to a hiring manager.
For many jobs — especially now — you are competing with hundreds or even thousands of other candidates. How can you stand out?
Your resume should:
- Help you structure how you think about your work experience so that it supports the narrative of the story you will tell during your interviews.
- Show that you’ve done your homework, fully understand the job description, and know what the company needs.
- Give your inside champions something for the hiring managers to review when they are ready to give you a call.
Common resume mistakes:
- Generic resume. Employers recognize a one-size-fits-all resume that isn’t customized or tailored for a specific company and role.
- Weak summary. Your summary at the top of the resume should be your elevator pitch. Unfortunately, many people write summaries like an objective or full of vague descriptions of who they are.
- Untruths. Some candidates stretch the facts on their resumes or outright lie about their accomplishments.
- Irrelevant experience. Focus on your work experience and skills that are the most relevant for this position.
- Duties. So many people make this mistake. They list their job duties instead of their accomplishments.
- Misspellings. 58% of employers said resume misspellings were one of the biggest reasons they did not hire employees.
However, at some point, you will need a resume:
- A recruiter will ask you to send one.
- If you connect with hiring managers directly, they will want to see one.
- When you interview for a job, the team will want to review one before talking with you.
- When you get hired, HR will want a resume to put in your official employment file.
More importantly, if you follow my advice, you will find an inside champion. That person will want to place your resume directly into the hiring manager’s hands.
When that happens, your resume will need to be rock solid.
You do need to take the time to write it well and customize it appropriately for the opportunity. Otherwise, that hiring manager will be disappointed by what he or she reads.
Critical components of a cover letter
- Heading with all of your contact information.
- The salutation (e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith,”). Try to find the name of the recruiter or hiring manager.
- An attention-grabbing opening paragraph (i.e., The Hook). What makes you unique and valuable?
- Explain why you are motivated to join their company. What do you know about them that excites you about the opportunity?
- Why you are the right candidate for the role and how you will benefit the company. A brief summary of your unique value, achievements, and capabilities that map to what they need.
- Wrap up with a call to action (e.g., “Can we set up a call this week to discuss your expectations for the role?”).
- Finish with a formal closing to thank the reader and repeat your contact information for quick access (e.g., phone number, email).
Cover Letter Mistakes
The biggest mistake that people make is trying to write a one-size-fits-all cover letter. Yes, it takes time to customize your cover letter so that it maps directly to the company and its open position.
But that’s precisely the point of a cover letter. It’s your chance to sell yourself and explain the unique aspects of your background that make you the perfect candidate for this specific job.
- Using a generic salutation because you didn’t bother to research the company and figure out who the hiring manager is.
- Using inconsistent fonts and font sizes.
- Duplicating parts of your resume word for word.
- Being too dry, formal, and dull, so that it reads like every other cover letter.
- Or, being too casual and treating the reader like your buddy.
- Being afraid to be confident, sell yourself, and call out your achievements.
- Talking about your weaknesses or lack of qualifications.
- On the flip side, being too confident, cocky, and bragging about yourself.
- Using a passive tone of voice in your writing.
- Not including clear and quantitative examples of achievements.
- Forgetting to use a spellchecker and grammar checking software.
- Only talking about yourself and what you want.
- Sharing too much personal information.
- Writing a cover letter longer than one page.
Yes, 74% of recruiters claim that they still read them.
ResumeLab surveyed 200 recruiters, HR specialists, and hiring managers to find out what they think about cover letters. The results are fascinating!
- 83% claimed that a great cover letter could secure you an interview even if your resume isn’t good enough.
- 77% of recruiters will give preference to candidates who do send a cover letter.
- 72% of recruiters still expect cover letters even if the job ad states they’re optional.
- Surprisingly, only 38% of candidates submit a cover letter when it is required.
Guess what the respondents said is the most crucial part of your cover letter?
- “Explaining the motivation to join the company.”
You will already stand out from the competition and receive preferred consideration if you take the time to write a cover letter. So, of course, you would write one, correct?
The Goal of Your Cover Letter
A cover letter will not get you the job.
The goal of your cover letter and resume is to be intriguing enough that a recruiter or hiring manager wants to talk to you. You still need to sell yourself in the interviews and close the deal.
The cover letter is not the place to talk about what you want. It also shouldn’t be generic or replicate what is in your resume.
Focus on what the company wants and needs. The job description contains the clues that tell you what they want to hear.
You should connect the dots between who you are and what the company needs in this role. Emphasize the key talents, skills, knowledge, experience, and achievements that make it clear that you are the perfect candidate for the hiring manager.
How could a promotion ruin your career? Isn’t that what everyone wants in return? Yes and no.
Many people think that they want a promotion, but then things start to feel wrong:
These are all signs that you may have been promoted too quickly. Or, perhaps you were promoted into the wrong position. Companies frequently make the mistake of promoting their highest-performing individual contributors into management.
Now, you dread going to work on Monday morning. You may be living in fear that your incompetence will be discovered and you will be fired.
You no longer feel in control of your job. You’ve lost the confidence that you’re great at what you do.
If someone doesn’t have faith in you, you need to have faith in yourself. When you were young, you had spectacular hopes and dreams for your future. You created a plan for your life that was going to be glorious. You were making good progress on the path to your goals.
But, somewhere along the way, something — or someone — caused you to stumble. Obstacles suddenly appeared in your path. Barriers sprang up out of nowhere.You realized that you had somehow drifted off course, and now your confidence has been shaken. You aren’t even sure that you have what it takes to make it anymore.
You may feel shattered. But, I’ve learned that you become even stronger and more capable when you survive that and come back. Losing your confidence hurts. But, you will come back better, and as a better person.