Once again we're hiring at PushFire and once again that means I'm going through a slew of resumes to try and find some new – and awesome – members to add to the PushFire team.
Add to that my post last week railing ForbesWoman for explaining how women have a hard time competing in today's market for employment because they have to compete against men and I figured this would be a great time to post about what I see (and repeatedly at that) that actually hurts your opportunity to get the career you want – at least at my company.
Failure to follow instructions
Look – I know it's a competitive market, but don't be in such a hurry to get your application in “first” that you fail to take the time to actually read the job ad and follow any instructions listed within it. Your application for a position is supposed to be your best impression. If your “best impression” is that you don't bother to follow simple instructions, you'll immediately end up in my circular file (AKA the trash bin). It says to me that you can't be managed without a lot of oversight.
Spelling the company name wrong
Again, don't rush. Take the time to look into the company you're applying with. Our company name is “PushFire” – and is clearly stated so in the ad and on our website. It's not “Pushfire”, “Push Fire” or “PuchFire”. It's not the we're narcissistic or feel we're a household name – it simply shows me your lack of attention to detail. If you can't be bothered with the small stuff for things that directly benefit you, then I highly doubt you're capable of paying the attention to detail we demand for our clients.
Using “canned” cover letters
It takes approximately five minutes to personally address your cover letter to me – or my company – and modify your objective within your resume to fit in line with the position that we're hiring for. It makes me cringe when I see “Dear Hiring Manager” followed by how they'd be a perfect fit at my “company”. It reminds me of a generic link exchange request. I see that as a lack of “people skills” and I'm always looking for people skills – especially important if the position itself directly requires it.
Using ridiculously long cover letters
In this economy, people putting out job ads are likely getting a lot of applicants. I don't want to have to read a book to find out whether or not I should bring you in for an interview. Keep it to two paragraphs or less. Appreciate my time and show me you can be succinct in describing your potential value to our company and culture.
Not understanding the line between confident and cocky
I absolutely want confident people. But I don't want egos. There is a fine line between showing a potential employer that you're bold vs. showing them that you're cocky. Team members that think they know everything are often hard to work with for co-workers and oversee by management. Learn the difference between “I'd add immense value to your team” and “You'd be lucky to be able to hire me”.
Failure to include relevant skills
We sometimes get applications from someone for a position where their resume and cover letter make no mention of the specific skills that are required in the position. There is likely a reason you feel you're qualified for the position you're applying for. Make sure you show me those reasons.
Including unprofessional attributes
If you send me an application from firstname.lastname@example.org, tell me how “Ud luv” to get an interview, use 18 point pink font in your email, have a dancing kitten in your signature line or include a shirtless picture of yourself (I couldn't make this shit up), you won't be getting any interviews with us – and probably won't with anyone else for that matter. We're a laid back company, but we're still professionals.
Telling me all about how you're self-employed in a competing business
I love entrepreneurs, don't get me wrong. And I get that entrepreneurs sometimes make the jump to a salaried position for whatever reason. But when you tell me about all the success you've had while running a business that is competitive to mine, you make me feel like you're looking for a free education and not a long term home with our team. I'm not saying to lie, but if you're self employed – especially in a competing business – while applying for a job, I'd highly suggest addressing WHY you're looking for a job in the cover letter.
Got any to add?
If you can think of any additional mistakes you've seen cost people an interview, feel free to mention them in the comments. :)