You found a job that looks really interesting. The last thing you want is for a lame mistake to ruin the chance for making a good first impression, or worse, cost you a shot at a job. Here are some classic mis-steps and how you can avoid them:
1. Poor choice of file name on resume. A file name with an old date, a job title that does not match, or a silly nickname or an abbreviation that makes no sense, is not professional. The file name for your resume may very well be noticed and should be your full name or your full name and the job title.
2. Addressed to the wrong person. If you have the hiring manager’s name, be sure it is correct and spelled right. Be very very careful to never carry over another name (or job title, company name or anything else) from an earlier resume. It shouts of sloppy work and will almost certainly end your candidacy for the current position.
3. Addressed offensively. I recently received a cover letter addressed “Dear Sirs”. (I’m a woman.) Seriously. Always try to get the name of the hiring manager. If you can’t get it, generic salutations include: Dear Hiring Manager, To Whom It May Concern, Dear Sir or Madam. None of them is perfect, but at least they are non-offensive.
4. Overly informal tone. In today’s world of text messages, we’ve all become a little less formal. Cover letters sent by email may fall into the trap of being way too casual, making them unprofessional. Even if the cover letter is being sent in email, avoid an email type salutation such as “Hey”. Do not start with “Is this position still open?” or “I had a question about the job”. Use complete, grammatically correct sentences, not text message style phrases. Make your cover letter polished and focus on your match to the position.
5. Too much information in “Interests”, “Hobbies” or “Personal” section of resume. In most cases, there is no reason to include any personal information in a resume. The exception would be if that information directly demonstrates how you are a match for the open position. Including religious or political activities on a resume should be avoided in general. If you have applicable work experience for such an organization, focus on the work not the organization. For example “Managed financial records for a major political campaign” does not give way the nature of the campaign. “Ran education program involving more than 100 children attending weekly program” does not bring up the religious nature of the program. There is nothing wrong with political, religious or other activities, but presenting them wisely on a resume is important.
Your cover letter and resume are your foot in the door. Do not blow the chance with a sloppy or thoughtless error. Take the time to get every detail right.