Why employers hate your resume – before they’ve even opened it
Employers pay attention to detail. They receive considerably more qualified applications for every job than they can conceivably hire, and they really want to make the right choice.
Hiring someone is time-consuming and expensive. It’s also stressful, because making a bad hire is not only disruptive and a setback for the team, but it can make the hiring manager look bad to their own bosses.
This is why every detail matters so much in your communications with potential employers. They scrutinize the minutia not because they are nitpicking sticklers, but because they want to use any information available to them to make the most informed choice.
One of the revealing details that many candidates overlook when applying for job is the name of their resume. I’m not talking about the title at the top of the page – although many people get that wrong too – but the actual filename of the saved document.
When you receive a resume as an email attachment, the first thing you read is the name of the file. So that is your first impression before you’ve even opened it. Last year, in 2015, I received a resume for the position of Business Editor with the file name: Bill_Smith_Writer_Jobs_Updated_Resume2012.doc. From this filename, before even looking at the resume, I assume that Bill Smith applies to multiple kinds of jobs, and this is the resume he uses to land a gig as a writer. He also may or may not have updated it in three years.
Small detail. Bad first impression.
Many people simply call their resume files: ‘Resume’ or ‘CV.’ This doesn’t work either. Employers sometimes have to read through ten, twenty, over a hundred resumes sometimes for a job. They’ll save the most relevant ones to a file for more follow-up. How are they going to find you again if your resume stood out, but it’s in a folder full of similarly named documents all called “Resume.doc”, “Resume2016.doc” and, “MyCV”?
Even Resume2016.doc just looks like this is the file you’re using to apply for jobs this year.
We also often see names like Daves-Resume-Updated.doc. It’s great that Dave updated his resume, but that’s not the info you want employers to read first. That sounds like a note he’s made to himself on his home computer that this is the latest version. You can call your document whatever helps you organize your files on your own computer, but when applying for jobs name your attached resume with the specific name of the job you’re applying for and your own name.
This will indicate to the employer that you’ve created a resume just for their position, and it will help with the organization on their end. For example, in the case of a Business Editor role, Bill’s resume could have been called: Bill-Smith_Business-Editor.doc. Good first impression. Easy to find.