Printing your resume on scented paper is a great way to perfume a hiring manager’s trash can — but not a smart step on the way to gainful employment.
This — and other things people do with their resumes — can make them seem crazy. Usually they’re trying to stand out and aren’t confident their experience and qualifications are enough — so they resort to stunts, which almost always end in disaster.
Here are some things that might be giving the wrong impression.
Irrelevant work experience
Including work from 20 years ago that doesn’t pertain to your current career does nothing but take up space and waste time.
“There’s no reason an accounting applicant should bullet their dog walking experience in detail on his/her resume,” says Mark Slack, career adviser at Genius Resume Builder. “It’s fine to include it as a minor heading to reduce employment gaps, but detailed bullet points about dog grooming and maintenance won’t get you very far in an accounting firm.”
Too many points of contact
Slack says he also doesn’t like when people include too much contact information. A phone number and email address are enough.
Unless you’re applying for a social media position and want to show off your skills, “there’s really no need to be offering up your Instagram and Facebook profiles,” he says. “It just makes you seem over eager and a bit off.”
Slack’s rule of thumb: If you use the account professionally and share information relevant to the job you’re applying for, such as sharing professional articles or participating in Twitter chats, you can include it — otherwise, leave it off.
Awkward attempts at humor
Donna Shannon is a former corporate recruiter who saw plenty of people trying to be funny on their resumes —and failing. “In trying to be clever, the job seeker just looks nuts,” says the author of “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy.”
One such resume she received started with “Joe Schmoe: Writer, Marketing Genius and Smartass.” Shannon says, “This is probably the last person I would ever call for an interview. Instead of these attempts at humor, a job seeker is better off using high-value keywords that accurately describe their talents.”
In most cases, your resume should stand out because of your accomplishments, not unnecessary, irrelevant personal information.
“I was hiring an assistant a few years ago and at the bottom of one of the resumes I received, it said, ‘Hobbies: Eating cheese, cosplay and applying for awesome jobs,’” says Susan Baroncini-Moe, CEO of digital marketing agency Business in Blue Jeans. “I was tempted to interview this person because the level of weirdness in this one line made me curious, but I never even considered hiring her.”
Breaking and entering
If your resume lacks substance, a possibly illegal stunt to deliver it isn’t going to help.
Recently a new Princeton grad snuck into Fan Bi’s offices at the luxury menswear company, Blank Label, and taped his resume to the door. The founder and CEO says he was surprised the gentleman found his way inside and even more so that his resume said “I have no prior work experience, but am willing to learn the ropes at any organization.” The resume didn’t include any other activities from his time in school either.
Bi says initially he was intrigued, believing either this person was a genius for having the nerve to do this or a coward for not coming to speak to someone. In the end it didn’t matter which, though. “Brave as he may have been for illicitly entering our premises and for adding a bit of personality to his resume by being so brutally honest, his resume found itself in the trash bin as soon as it was clear he, as a candidate, had no real substance.”
Dominique Rodgers, Monster Contributing Writer
Here are 10 things you can do easily on LinkedIn to bring your job hunt to the next level of effectiveness:
1. Exploit “networkable” moments. Recognize that not every connection is always ripe for networking. But, there are times when active networking can be both welcome and fruitful: moments when people experience professional change or reach a milestone.
When you get emails from LinkedIn notifying you of your connections’ birthdays, work anniversaries, job changes, etc. you are being given a heads up that a networkable moment is at hand. Make the effort to reach out and say something more than just the boilerplate “Happy Birthday” or “Congrats.” A simple sentence or two can stimulate a conversation, and bring you to the mind of people in your network who might not otherwise think of you.
2. Track your profile views. Depending on your level of LinkedIn account, you can learn more or less about how often your profile came up as a search result from others, or how many people (and who) have viewed it. If the volume is consistently low, or shows a marked decrease, it’s time to take active steps to boost your visibility and draw people toward you. Supplement the information you provide or otherwise optimize your profile, make a point of posting updates that will interest others and participate in Groups. Always make sure your profile is complete so that you increase the likelihood of coming up in other people’s searches.
3. Identify yourself. Begin your Summary with your name and email. That way, even if you come up as a third degree connection in someone else’s search and your identity masked, he or she will be able to know who you are and contact you.
What a shame it would be if a recruiter or hiring manager comes upon your profile and thinks you might be a great fit for a position he or she is seeking to fill, but he or she can’t figure out who you are or how to reach you.
4. List your skills. The Skills section of your profile affords you the opportunity to list up to 50 different things at which you are proficient. If you are having trouble coming up with that many, look at the Requirements section of ads for positions you are applying to. Whenever you have what employers seek, make sure you include it.
5. Include additional files in your profile. You can be incredibly creative these days in providing information about yourself and your accomplishments. LinkedIn now allows you to upload all kinds of files, from PDF to Word to Excel to PowerPoint, plus pictures and even sound files. You can include, for example, a full PDF version of your résumé, examples of your art, coding, a voice recording of you telling your story, etc.
6. Contend with age discrimination. Of course, we all know that age discrimination is rampant, and none of us will be 20 years younger ever again. If you are of a certain age, chances are strong that people you went to college with are now in senior (aka hiring) roles. Rejuvenate those relationships by including your dates for degrees earned and becoming visible with your contemporary alumni network. Rekindle old relationships; you may be surprised at how eager others may be to help you in your job search.
7. Recommend people you respect. Think of five to 10 people whom you respect and whom you’ve worked with in the past. Link with them, and be proactive by recommending them. This is another way to rekindle old relationships and begin a whole new dialogue. They will likely want to recommend you as well.
When employers see that you have written recommendations for your former peers, supervisors or subordinates, they will conclude that you’re a strong team member, capable of adding real value in the future.
8. Follow people, news and companies. When you take the time to understand what people and companies in which you have an interest are up to, you will have no trouble personalizing a cover letter, tailoring your résumé to meet their needs and expectations and transform an interview from a grilling to a friendly conversation.
9. Take advantage of Groups. You can belong to 50 groups at a time on LinkedIn. Each has its own jobs tab that is different from the one at the top LinkedIn menu bar, and often listings are posted in those tabs that you won’t see elsewhere. And when you contribute things of value to Group discussions, you make yourself easier to find and add to your value as a thought leader worthy of being recruited.
10. Use tags to organize your connections. You will have a different number of tags available to use based on your membership level, but regardless you can label connections as you choose by using this feature. Some ideas: “People to Contact,” “Recruiters,” “Current Prospects,” etc.
Above all, remember your connections are people, and networking is about building and strengthening relationships, not simply asking for favors. When you show yourself to be thoughtful and engaging with talent to contribute as a valued team member, you will surely advance your chances of being found and hired.
Do some research, and put together a list of your dream companies — whether or not they have openings. I recommend putting 10-20 potential employers in a spreadsheet, with columns to detail potential departments you could work in, contacts you may have (or could get there), and any other potential ins.
Then, for each company, do some digging to determine which may realistically have an open place for you. With a bit of research on social media, sites like Glassdoor, and the company’s blog and press releases, you can determine a lot: Which departments are emerging or underdeveloped? Which companies recently received funding and might be ready to bring on people in all areas? Where are there potential opportunities for your skill set that the company hasn’t thought of yet? (Mashable Share)
“Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… We are in charge of our attitudes.” (David Holt, 2014)