Ruinous resumes: The demise of attention to detail

Posted by on May 6, 2010

Like most companies, we have a process in place that involves sending our job description to local colleges for posting; reviewing cover letters and resumes from interested candidates; screening and narrowing down the pool through phone interviews; and bringing the top candidates in for in-person interviews before making our decision.The cover letters and resumes we received during our search for a summer intern have run the gamut – some are the preferred one page, while others are two or three – verging on short biographies.

But, what really stood out this time – and made it fairly easy to whittle down the candidate pool – were three things:

  1. Typos
  2. Inconsistent formatting
  3. Grammatical errors

Here’s your checklist for a solid resume:

  1. No typos – nothing can take you out of the running faster than typos. In the resume world, they’re simply unacceptable.
  2. Check consistency – if you’re going to bold face your job titles, then bold face all of them; if you’re listing your experience starting with your most recent job, don’t intersperse the list – keep it in reverse chronological order.
  3. Double-check your grammar – if you list bullet points for a past job, they should all be past tense – not just some of them.
  4. Proofread – have someone else proofread the final version. After looking at a document 10 times, it’s easy to see things that aren’t really there.
  5. Keep it professional – resist the urge to revert to “text message” type cover emails.

Has tweeting and 140 character-based communication slackened writing skills? If you’re a hiring manager or review resumes regularly, please share your thoughts with us. What has your experience been lately?

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  1. Dione-
    Great post! I thought I’d share a funny (and disturbing) story about a cover letter I once received for a PR position with an agency. After posting the job on Craigslist, we got over 100 resumes and cover letters basically overnight. But one stood out so much – it got passed around the office for its audacity.

    The young man included his contact information at the bottom of his emailed letter. A point in his favor (some actually forgot this critical element).

    His email address?

    Yep. That really happened. Folks coming out of school, PLEASE make sure your email address is professional! If you need a new one, sign up at gmail or Yahoo for free and use a simply format.

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