A typo can cost you that job

HR professionals, recruiters reveal top resumé blunders
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 09/12/2013

Jobseekers applying for their dream position need to ensure they have the right skills and qualifications — but they also need a good spellchecker.

That’s because typos are the most annoying mistake on resumés, according to a survey of 475 Canadian hiring managers and HR professionals. And those spelling errors could lead employers to automatically dismiss a candidate, according to the online survey by CareerBuilder.

Fifty-four per cent of employers pointed to typos as the most irritating mistake, while 43 per cent mentioned a lack of skill set information as a major error.

Generic resumés that don’t seem personalized for the position were cited by 35 per cent, as well as those with inappropriate email addresses (35 per cent).

Also on the annoying list:

• resumés that copied much of the job ad’s working (31 per cent)

• missing exact dates of employment (29 per cent)

• decorative resumé paper (25 per cent).

• large blocks of text with little white space (22 per cent)

• resumés longer than two pages (19 per cent)

• no cover letter (17 per cent)

• including a photo (16 per cent)

The survey also included a list of the most bizarre mistakes applicants have made on a resumé, including one job hopeful who revealed he had spent time in jail for assaulting a former boss.

The study addressed the application method as well, noting that 26 per cent of employers only accept digital resumés — leaving the hard copies they receive unopened.

“Your resumé is the primary deciding factor for whether you will land a job interview,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of human resources at CareerBuilder in Toronto. “Keep it succinct, personalize it to feature only skills and experience relevant to the position you’re applying for, and always include specific, quantifiable results that showcase the value you can bring to an organization.”

Most outrageous resumé mistakes

When asked to share the most memorable and unusual applications they’ve been sent, hiring managers gave the following real-life examples:

• four page resumé detailing every position and volunteer job they had ever had since they were 12

• etched into a wooden cutting board

• resumé delivered in a balloon

• written in crayon

• each line had one bold word that formed a “hidden” message about how great the applicant would be for the position

• resumé came in the form of a candy-gram

• many small teddy bears and daisies adorned the edges of the pink paper

• online by an employee we had fired

• scrawled in pencil on butcher’s paper

• singing telegram

• candidate revealed that he spent time in jail for assaulting a prior boss

• listed “have flown on a corporate jet” as a notable achievement

• listed “Worked with my dad building things. Worked with my mum cleaning the house,” as past experience.

South of the border

CareerBuilder also conducted a similar survey in the United States. The online survey of 2,076 recruiters and HR professionals revealed similar pet peeves — typos were the number one annoyance (58 per cent) followed by one that were generic and don’t seem personalized for the position (36 per cent).

Here’s a list of memorable and unusual applications received by U.S. professionals:

• resumé was submitted from a person the company just fired

• resumé’s “skills” section was spelled “skelze”

• resumé listed the candidate’s objective as “to work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI’s like my current employer”

• resumé included language typically seen in text messages (such as no capitalization and use of shortcuts like "u")

• resumé consisted of one sentence: “Hire me, I’m awesome”

• resumé listed the candidate’s online video gaming experience leading warrior “clans,” suggesting this passed for leadership experience

• resumé included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood

• resumé was written in Klingon language from Star Trek

• resumé was a music video

• resumé didn’t include the candidate’s name

• on the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote “Mr.”

• resumé included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss.

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