“Common sense ain’t common,” observed American humorist Will Rogers. He could have been referring to a stubborn percentage of jobseekers who seem clueless when it comes to conducting a professional job search.
What special knowledge or judgment does it take, for example, to know you should present a professional image in all facets of your search – from crafting a business-like resume to handling yourself with dignity throughout the interview process?
Hotties Need Not Apply
So why would an otherwise acceptable applicant list an email address on his resume as “Sexy6ftmn@ . . .”? He is not alone. Several applicants for positions at my company felt quite comfortable listing off-color or questionable online monikers. Consider “hottie@ . . .” That ID might sound promising to a strip club, but for 99 percent of employers, Ms. Hottie has reject written all over her.
You might feel I am being picky. But ask yourself, what would any of these applicants do if, when hired, they were addressed “Hey Hottie” or “Hello Sexxy”? They would rightfully feel like victims of sexual harassment. So why isn’t it reasonable for a prospective employer to question the judgment of such applicants? Especially when it is so easy (and free) to open an email account with a dignified address.
Maybe those jobseekers thought a unique email name would set them apart. Well, it certainly does, but not in the way they had hoped. For whatever reason, they are guilty of a serious lapse in judgment. It’s kind of like showing up for the job interview wearing a party hat. You’re not going to win points.
Nor will you win points if you have your toddler answering the phone when a company does respond to your resume. Having your hard-of-hearing grandparents field calls is also a bad idea. Thirty seconds of garbled music before the answering machine message isn’t very considerate of anyone’s time, least of all a potential employer.
Under such circumstances, you’re better off springing for a cell phone. Of course, having a cell phone is not a license to conduct interviews in the grocery store, while you are driving, or from your doctor’s waiting room. Better to explain you are not in a private place, and need to call the interviewer back in a few minutes.
Can the SPAM
You also probably know not to SPAM your resume to prospective employers. When our HR people follow up with a phone call, most SPAMers have no idea what job they applied for, who they’ve applied with, or anything about the company. SPAM just wastes everyone’s time. Just common sense.
So is expecting to be tested. More and more companies are using skill and personality tests to help them make better hiring decisions.
At CJJ, we use a spelling and writing exam, common practice at publications. Yet one applicant when faced with the exam, broke down in tears. She left abruptly after the first few questions, grumbling that the test was demeaning. Basically, she gave up on herself. Common sense would say you never quit and you never cry. After all, you might surprise yourself and win the job. One candidate actually conceded he was a poor speller, yet still got the job based on his other skills.
Having a friend proofread your resume is another simple pointer that seems to be overlooked by those most in need of assistance. Here are a few excerpts from cover letters and resumes CJJ has on file. Hopefully, you won’t be wondering why these applicants were passed over:
From a cover letter: “I am very interesting in this position.”
“I have a BA in English. This will avail it’s self in the writing of the advertisements. I can writing using phrases and abbreviations as well.”
“In addition to my desire to joing and your team, you will find diligents, enthousiasm, and fantastic work ethics.”
“Also have a high school diplomia.”
“Attached is my resume. If you are interested in with my latest project, please click here.”
“Objective: Seeking an entry-level position with a stale company.”
“I’ve worked in a past paced environment that gave me the anxiety to fight the challenge.”
“Administrative professional with years of experience in a stock broker.”
“I have myriad of semester units that can be equivenent to a Master degree; however, I still don’t have my AA degree yet.”
“I will do anything to get this job . . . Pretty please call me.”
Last line from a resume: "There is a difference between what you get in an employee and what you hope for.”
Amen. Well, almost. Perhaps the most challenged applicant was the one who sent his resume via email. But we will never know if he was the most qualified. The attachment was password protected.