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The Resume Mistake Even Savvy Job Seekers Make

It's relatively easy to avoid the most obvious resume mistakes (typos and such) but there's one resume mistake even the savviest of job seekers often make. It's so obvious once you think about it, yet so easily overlooked amid all the other things you're proofing and verifying and remembering as you submit your application. It's a small, simple thing, but it can either support or detract from the first impression you're making on a prospective employer.

I'm talking about the filename you give your resume before you email it.

Think about it. Have you been sending attachments that are clear, professional and show your attention to detail, such as "MaryJones-MarketingAssistant.doc"?

Or have you been sending attachments with names like "Res14.doc," which gives an impression of "Ho-hum, here we go again for the 14th time."

This topic came up when I was having dinner the other night with friends. They were talking about a recent group of job candidates they had interviewed for an open position at their company. My friend Kate said a majority of job candidates who submit their resumes and cover letters by email don't seem to realize that the hiring manager will see the filenames of the attached documents.

Never submit your resume as an email attachment with a filename containing any of the following:

  • Another company's name (e.g., J.Doe-Consultant-ABC Company.doc —but it's being submitted to DEF Company)
  • Old dates (e.g., Jen'sResumeSept06.doc)
  • Typos (e.g., B.Jones-AdministraticeSuperviser.doc)
  • Names that are just for you (e.g., ManufacturingResume.doc)

But perhaps the most common resume-naming faux pas is simply titling it "Resume.doc," or "MyResume.doc," which makes it next to impossible for the hiring manager to distinguish that resume from any other without opening the document.

Next time you customize your resume for a particular job opening, be sure you give it a meaningful, professional name that makes it easy for the hiring manager to identify in the future.

As a rule of thumb, it's helpful to use a formula, such as lastname_firstname followed by the position you're applying for (either by title or reference number). 

Acceptable examples include:

  • Baxter_Kim_Sales_Manager.doc
  • Baxter_Kim_JobRef_345678.doc
  • Cooper, James, Sales Associate.doc
  • Taylor - PR Director.doc
  • Resume-L.Delgado.RadiologyTech.Clark Hosp.doc

It may also help to indicate whether the document is a resume or a cover letter, if you're sending them as separate documents (e.g., Smith_J_Machinist_Res.doc and Smith_J_Machinist_CL.doc).

Details are important. Make sure your resume - and cover letter - have names that identify you and contribute to a great first impression.

Did this mistake surprise you? Hiring managers or job seekers, have you encountered or committed this (or similar) resume faux pas? Let us know in the Comments section!

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