When you send your painstakingly prepared resume and cover letter off to your dream employer, it's nice to imagine that the hiring manager will treat it with patience, care, and dignity.
In fact, you might picture them like the old '49ers during the Gold Rush, panning for gold.
Knowing there's a chance there might be some nuggets hidden in your resume, they'll carefully sift around and push aside the clutter until they locate the little sparkles among the muck.
Snap out of it!
In the real world, the big, honkin' gold nugget better jump out of the pan and into their laps, or your resume will get tossed back into the proverbial stream.
Ask any recruiter or hiring manager, and they'll tell you that they typically spend mere seconds deciding whether a resume is worth reading. Really. Ten, fifteen, maybe 30 seconds if you're lucky.
And you know what else? When you're a hiring manager with a 6-inch stack of resumes on your desk, and your job is to narrow it down to the five or 10 that look most promising, you're looking for ways to quickly reduce the pile by eliminating most of them.
Almost any excuse will do.
Here are a few of the most typical reasons a hiring manager might screen out your resume after a brief glance:
Failure to Communicate
Your cover letter and resume should quickly identify what job you're looking for and your most important qualifications. Use power words and exact keywords from their own job description to help catch their eye like the glint off a fleck of gold.
In other words, too much information. Edit out any details that aren't directly supporting your qualifications for this job – they're like dirt in the gold pan.
10 lbs of Sh*t in a 5-lb Bag
This goes hand in hand with the no-TMI rule. Be sure the text is easy to read, and the margins are wide enough for the hiring manager to scribble notes. Eliminate the silt and sand. Just leave the weighty stuff.
Spell check it, proofread it, have someone else proofread it, and email it to yourself or a friend to see how it looks before you submit it for real. If there's any dirt left on it, rinse it off!
If you are a gem of a candidate, with relevant skills and qualifications, make sure your potential value to the employer will be sparklingly obvious within the first few seconds. Don't make them work for it. Hand them the gold up front.
What other instant deal breakers can you think of? (Hiring managers and recruiters, please share your secrets, too!)