ResumeYour resume is one of the most important documents you will ever create when job hunting, but a single mistake could send all that hard work straight to the recycle bin. Often, there are mistakes made before I even open the resume.

Usually when applying for a job, you are up against a myriad of peope.  Various skill sets, experience and some more willing than others to want the job.  So how do you stand out?

Well, I will give you some tips on how not to stand out for the wrong reasons.  These are all real life examples of what we have seen when hiring staff. And it seems common sense is often not as common as you would think.

If you make any of these blunders, you could be dooming your chances of getting the job.

1. Read the job application rules (before sending in your application)

It still makes me so frustrated that people apply for jobs and clearly do not read the instructions in the job ad. Always when I hire staff, I ask them to do something in particular when applying for the job.  This is their first test – attention to detail.  So quite often I will say “please put the phrase I am your next superstar bookkeeper in the subject line of the email when you send through your application.”  Last time I hired, of the first 40 applications I received only 8 of them followed this pretty basic step.  Less than 50% had attention to detail for a bookkeeping role where attention to detail is paramount. Read the rules, and do what is asked.

2. Do your research – it’s not hard

Now I run a Bookkeeping and Accounting business and I have hired both bookkeepers and administration staff over the past five years. I live on social media, I have a website, if you google “Stacey Price Accountant” or “Healthy Business Finances” I am easily found.  Yes still people will email me and not mention my name or business name in the entire application process. It just makes me wonder if they know what role they are even applying for.  I want to know why people want to work for me, and I want someone who can’t wait to be part of our crazy team. Say something in your application that makes me know you have stalked me. It will set you apart instantly.

3. Spelling mistakes and errors

Now I am the first to admit that I am a numbers person not a words person, but hello spell check. It is your best friend – please use it.  Any copying and pasting a cover letter you wrote for a job from 5 years ago and changing the date is not enough.  Chances are there will be errors in the letter.

I have had prospective employees call me Sir, or Sarah or Tracey – none of which are correct. Now if they had done their research (as noted above) this error would be non existent.

With so much on the line, there is simply no excuse for sending out a CV that is not letter perfect.

4. Length and style matters

Your resume should be polished and professional, not some kind of artistic expression which could take place in a gallery somewhere. .

As resumes are often viewed on a computer screen and not printed out, avoid fancy fonts  as these can be especially hard to read on screen, unusual colors, tacky clip art and other flourishes, they take more from your resume than they add.  I have had people insert a video into a resume, but when I tried to open the document the video didn’t work – so it was a useless addition.

And length matters.  No business owner or HR team has the time or dedication to read a 17 page resume.  You don’t need to tell them what you did every minute of the day in each role you have had.  Don’t write things just for the sake of writing things.  Be concise, use bullet points and if in doubt, seek out a resume service to get a helping hand.

5. A lack of accomplishments

Your future boss does not want to know what your daily duties were. He or she wants to know what you were able to accomplish in the past and what you can bring to the organisation in the future. Your resume should focus on what you have been able to achieve thus far in your career, and the skills you will use to build more in the future.

Try to tie those skills you have already got, to the job you are applying for. A nice paragraph in your email or cover letter outlining why your existing skills sets you up nicely for this role will put you at the front of the pack. But please don’t try to tell a prospective employer “you will be great” if you can’t back it up with actual accomplishments.

6. Keywords matter

The first person to read your resume in tech current tech driven environment may not be a person at all. Search engine robots and automated systems are often used to sort resumes and look for key job skills. If your resume does not include the keywords the robot is looking for, the document may never make it to human eyes.

Always review the job description and have it open next to you when updating your resume and writing your covering letter/email.  Make sure you reference what the employer is looking for. I have had people apply for a part time bookkeeping role and say “I can’t wait to work with you as your full time admin assistant”.  They were totally not applying for current the job vacancy.

“I am certainly no HR nor resume expert.  But I like to think I know common sense. Calling me the wrong name, wrong gender, applying for the wrong job all just indicates you are lazy and why would I hire that attitude?”

When it comes to landing a job, knowing what to avoid can be even more important than knowing what to do. Learning to recognize and overcome these common resume blunders may not guarantee you the position but it can improve your odds at getting that all elusive interview.