Recruiters (both HR and agency
recruiters) receive tens if not hundreds of resumes a day, each of which must be read, evaluated against current job requirements, processed, clarified and filed.
If you want them to help you find a job, help them do their jobs.
The Common Mistakes
Presented in order of chronology, not severity.
1. Not Following Submission Directions
- Read the directions!
- First Impressions Last
- Email, Fax or Snail Mail?
- Formatted or ASCII Resume?
2. Not Building Personal Relationships
- Develop a personal relationship with your recruiter.
- You want someone who will sing your praises to the next person in the hiring process.
- ...especially if you are not an exact match or have some other special situation.
- Plus, when a cool job comes in, who do you think they will call first?
3. Bad Manners
- It's poor form to mail your resume to 45 recruiters in one email...
- …especially when you display them all in the To: field!
- Keep a log of where your resume has been sent.
- Don't insult the recruiter. (I'm not kidding–it happens!)
4. Applying When You Are not Even Remotely Qualified
- Don't apply without considering the requirements.
- Do apply for jobs that are a bit of a stretch, but at least be in the ballpark!
- Don't do "shotgun" applications.
- Pay attention to the "must have" vs. "nice to have" requirements.
5. Not Summarizing Skills vs. Requirements
- Recruiters get tens if not hundreds of resumes a day.
- Not all recruiters have the time to read your resume from top to bottom–some just skim for keywords and needed skills.
- If you are qualified, the recruiter will write a summary of how your skills match the job requirements before passing it on.
- However, they are not professional technical writers. Do you really want them to decide if you are a good enough match to pass on?
- Be pro-active: send a matrix of the job requirements vs. your skills so they don't have to do it for you.
- If you don't have one of the needed skills, this is where you say, "I don't have XYZ, but I do have ABC, which is very similar."
- Suddenly, you are the recruiter's best friend:
- They didn't have to search for the information.
- You typed the summary for them.
- You pointed out important information they may have missed.
- All they had to do is verify the information and pass it on.
6. Misnaming Your Resume
- Remember, recruiters get tens if not hundreds of electronic resumes a day.
- Put yourself in the recruiter's shoes.
- Would you want to receive 100 resumes a day named "resume.doc"?
- Name your resume so it can be found easily: for example, "Joe_Jones.doc"
7. Poorly Writing or Formatting Your Resume
- Your resume is the first sample of your writing skill.
- Programmers can get away with bad writing and formatting, but technical writers cannot!
- Documentation managers judge candidates based on their resumes...
- …and will disqualify you if you don't apply the same standards to your resume that you do your documentation.
- Pay attention to:
- Headers, Indentation and White Space
- Poor Use of Authoring Tool
8. Mis-evaluation of Importances
- Highlight your strengths.
- Minimize your weaknesses.
- For example, put the most applicable information, experience or skills near the top of your resume.
- Put less- or non-applicable experience near the bottom.
9. Not Anticipating and Answering Questions
- Recruiters wonder about oddities in resumes, so be pro-active and explain them.
- Gaps in Your Work History
- Your Citizenship or Work Visa Status
- Moving from Contract to Perm
- Moving from Perm to Contract (to a lesser degree)
- Need Relocation Assistance if Out-of-state?
10. Not Keeping Your Skills Current
- Not Knowing Latest Authoring Tools
- If you can really just pick them up in a week, how come you haven't already done so?
- Between chapter meetings, chapter mentor programs, and regional/ international conferences, there is no reason not to stay current.
- Follow submission directions.
- Build personal relationships.
- Use good manners and netiquette.
- Apply for jobs for which you are qualified.
- Include a summary of how your skills match the job requirements when you submit your resume.
- Name your electronic resume so it can be identified.
- Apply usability factors to your resume like you do to manuals.
- Highlight your strength, minimize your weaknesses.
- Anticipate and answer questions.
- Keep your skills current.
I'm always happy to hear from my readers, so if
you have any questions about how to find a good writer or want to report your successes in doing so, send me an email or call me at the number below!
About the Writer
Jack Molisani has been a project officer in the Space Division of
the USAF, the manager of training and documentation of a multi-million dollar software firm, and currently is the president of ProSpring Inc., a technical communication and placement firm, and LavaCon: The International Conference on Technical Communication Management.
Jack teaches courses on how to reduce support costs through better documentation and training materials at Cal State University, is a regular speaker at
the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and WinWriters international conferences, and was the chairman of the year 2000 STC Pan-Pacific Conference.
He can be reached by phone at 888-378-2333 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org