Certainly this is one of the toughest job markets in a very long time. However, there are countless resources to help people put their best foot forward. Be it articles in magazines, books, or helpful tips online, most people should be able to pull together a respectable appearance on paper to secure an initial phone interview.
Yet I continue to see some of the same mistakes in presentation and actions that have plagued candidates for a long time. The following five steps should be enough to sabotage any good effort on the part of the job candidate. These steps were gathered from observations on the receiving end of the resumes.
Don’t include your email address on your resume – Really, no joke; this happens more often than you would think. In other cases, the email address associated with the online resume was a student or university email address, which often expires after Graduation – mail delivery error, user unknown.
Be flexible on when you can be contacted for a phone interview – When asked for the most convenient time to contact a prospective candidate, a response like “I’m flexible, call me anytime.” gives me pause. When I do offer a specific time to reach someone, there is nothing like getting their voice mail greeting; even better is when they call back a day later saying they had a schedule conflict and that’s why they missed my call.
Forget about the Career Development Center (at your university or college) – Having posted jobs at universities and community colleges, I have found very few candidates are putting this valuable resource to use. After careful attention was paid to prepare a company profile, and completion of the position’s requirements, months went by without one applicant. When I asked the career development folks at one school about this, they said many students often don’t use their placement services, especially after they leave school. In another case, the advisor offered to print the position description and post it in a couple of places around campus – I thanked him for some 'old school' thinking and his willingness to help the students.
Record a greeting on your phone with music and background noise –Your friends might not enjoy it as much as the ‘old you’, but take some time to record what sounds like a professional image offered in a succinct greeting and welcoming message – it should sound something like I would want to hear if I called your office at work.
Apply for a completely unrelated job to your degree or past work experience – Amazing! I am still surprised by the gap between the job description and the resume qualifications or experience. If you can’t translate how your experience fits with the job description, I can’t either. Also, if a cover letter is requested as part of the submission process, take the time to write one. Often it’s your opportunity to explain, or offer insight into how your resume demonstrates your suitability to the job (opening).
I can’t say that any one of these is enough to avoid making it to first base in your job hunt. But a combination of one or more of these five steps should allow you to continue to have a flexible schedule during the day.