By Autumn McReynolds
Are you a polite, non-smoker with three pets whose interests include barbequing, picnics and long walks on the beach? If you’ve ever considered including these personal details on a résumé or the fact that your special skills include making organic soups and calling the weekly Bingo game at your local VFW, then you might need to rethink your job search.
In a competitive job market, creating a clear and concise résumé is extremely important if you want to land that first interview. Many job postings elicit hundreds of applications for a single opening, so even making it to the first step of the interview process can be a significant feat.
Unfortunately, in the midst of searching for the perfect opening, creating a customized cover letter, updating their résumé and filling out an application, some job seekers lose sight of the task at hand and forget that clarity and simplicity are key when trying to catch a recruiter or hiring manager’s eye.
The annual CareerBuilder survey shows that job seekers don’t have a lot of time to make a positive impression on employers. In fact, 45 percent of human resource managers say they spend, on average, less than one minute reviewing an application. The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive from May 19 to June 8, 2011, included more than 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals.
When asked to recall the most unusual résumés they have received, employers shared the following:
- Candidate said the more you paid him, the harder he worked.
- Candidate included that he was arrested for assaulting his previous boss.
- Candidate said he just wanted an opportunity to show off his new tie.
- Candidate listed her dog as reference.
- Candidate listed the ability to do the moonwalk as a special skill.
- Candidates — a husband and wife looking to job share — submitted a co-written poem.
- Candidate included “versatile toes” as a selling point.
- Candidate stated she was “particularly adept at comprehending the obvious.”
- Candidate said that he would be a “good asset to the company,” but failed to include the “et” in the word “asset.”
- Candidate’s email address on the résumé had “shakinmybootie” in it.
- Candidate said he was qualified because he was a “marvelous physical specimen.”
- Candidate included that she survived a bite from a deadly aquatic animal.
- Candidate was fired from different jobs, but included each one as a reference.
- Candidate used first name only.
- Candidate presented a list of demands in order to work for the organization.
- Candidate asked, “Would you pass up an opportunity to hire someone like this? I think not.”
- Candidate insisted that the company pay him to interview with them because his time was valuable.
- Candidate’s résumé was intentionally written from right to left instead of left to right.
- Candidate shipped a lemon with résumé, stating “I am not a lemon.”
- Candidate submitted 40-page résumé that included photos and diplomas
Too often, job seekers get overly creative or personal with their résumés in order to make an impression, but irrelevant information and goofy details can be perceived as unprofessional and may cause the résumé to be rejected on the spot.
“Making an impression on an employer should go deeper than just shock value,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “Job seekers should focus on gaining attention for the right reasons by highlighting relevant experience, applicable skills and how they would benefit the organization.”
Instead of trying to shock and amaze the hiring manager with your résumé, spend some time focusing on the job requirements and how to clearly represent yourself and your abilities. At a glance, a hiring manager should be able to gain insight on:
- Your current or most recent employer
- Specific details on tasks you’re in charge of (not just an HR job description)
- Your experience and capabilities as applicable to the open position
- Any pertinent accomplishments or successes that make you a top choice
- Name and professional contact information
After reading your résumé, the employer shouldn’t wonder what makes you qualified for the position. The only questions you want him or her asking are the kind that need to be answered in an interview.
Once you’ve organized, focused and targeted your résumé for the job in question, you must move on to creating a customized cover letter. While the cover letter acts as a canvas to showcase your personality and strengths, don’t forget that making an impact doesn’t mean astounding the employer with your many quirks, hobbies or demands. Show that you would not only fit in with the culture of the organization, but that you would improve the business process and overall efficiency.