A client recently asked me to read over her resume for her and about half way
down the page I spotted a typo. She was of course aghast and commented that it
must have been there for six months! Whenever you write a resume or cover letter
triple check it, then read it backwards from the bottom of the page to the top.

This can help you from making one of the classic mistakes that HR
professionals and hiring managers see all the time during the recruiting
process. And they love to share their favourites:

Resumes Blunders:

  • Instrumental in ruining an entire operation for a Midwest chain
    (It’s amazing what one letter can do to a word? Spell checking
    wouldn’t catch this. Ask someone objective to read your documents. Also, this
    accomplishment is missing the action step, in other words, how did you
    achieve the result.)
  • I’m a rabid typist.
    (Not only is this a typo, but you don’t need to use
    ‘I’ in a resume; ‘I’ is assumed.)
  • Develop and recommend an annual operating expense fudget.
    (Kind of a fun
    play on words actually)
  • Work experience: Dealing with customers’ conflicts that arouse.
    about the ones that weren’t so stimulating?)
  • Education: College, August 1880- May 1984.
    (How old are you?
    Plus, you needn’t mention the months you attended school or the start year, the
    graduation year is sufficient)
  • Under personal interests: Donating blood, 14 gallons so far.
    (This sounds
    a little creepy, stick to reading, gardening, travel and volunteer work.)
  • I was proud to win the Gregg Typting Award.
    (I wonder how the losers made
  • Here are my qualifications to overlook.
    (Consider it done)
  • Qualifications: I am a man filled with passion and integrity, and I can act
    on short notice. I’m a class act and don’t come cheap.
    (The qualities in the
    first sentence are not congruent with one another – passion and acting on short
    notice should be two separate points ; I won’t dignify the second sentence with
    a comment.)


Cover Letter Bloopers

  • I am extremely loyal to my present firm, so please don’t let them know of my
    immediate availability.
    (Mention your availability in the interview, not the
    cover letter. Oh, and look up the word ‘loyal’ in the dictionary.)
  • I intentionally omitted my salary history. I’ve made money and lost money.
    I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. I prefer being rich.
    (When addressing the
    salary issue in a cover letter, mention your salary is negotiable or that you
    expect the industry standard. If you feel you have to mention a figure, give a
    range and mention if it includes benefits in or not.)
  • Note: Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping.’ I have never
    quit a job.
    (That’s good news, phew! Getting fired is sooo much better. It is
    only necessary to list jobs that go back 10-15 years maximum.)
  • While I am open to the initial nature of an assignment, I am decidedly
    disposed that it be so oriented as to at least partially incorporate the
    experience enjoyed therefore and that it be configured so as to ultimately lead
    to the application of more rarefied facets of financial management as the major
    sphere of responsibility.
    (If you wouldn’t – or couldn’t possibly – say this
    out loud, don’t write it on paper.)


Interview Bungles: Reasons for leaving the last

  • Responsibility makes me nervous.
    (You might not want to mention that as a
    weakness either.)
  • They insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 every morning. Couldn’t
    work under those conditions.
    (That’s inhumane! We’ll be happy to support your
    sleeping in, by not hiring you. If it is flex time that you need or time in
    lieu, present what you want, not what you don’t want.)
  • I’ve been working for my mom and she decided to leave the company. (So, you
    left too? Would we also be obliged to hire your mom to get you to work here?)
  • They didn’t allow me to surf the web as often as I’d like to. They weren’t
    very nice about it either.
    (A company computer is a tool in which to execute
    ones’ work, it is not a personal toy. You have to work within the policies of
    your employer – or go someplace else.)
  • The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous
    (Do not mention anything negative about a previous employer,
    whether or not you think they were in the wrong. Plus when you’re the
    ’scapegoat’ for four jobs in a row, it suggests a pattern where you might
    actually be the problem.)

The job search process puts you out there in front of people with the written
word, voice mail or face to face in an interview. You have lots of chances to
slip up along the way, so take your time, triple check your work, think before
you answer questions and get other peoples’ help reviewing your work as often as
you can.

Good luck!

Colleen Clarke
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking: How to
Build Relationships That Count
and How to Get a Job and Keep