You find a listing for your dream job, so you dust off your old resume and just send it on its way, right? Not so fast. There's no second chance to make a first impression, and your resume needs to be at its best if you want that gig. While you're getting your resume ready to apply to your next job, learn from these eight common missteps:
- Not proofreading. Your resume and cover letter should make an impression, but if it includes typos it won't be a good one. "I'm a designer, not a writer," you might think, but hiring managers need to know you can adequately represent yourself and the company in written communications.
- Not designing the resume. You're a designer, so using a boring resume template goes against your nature. In a survey by The Creative Group, 89 percent of advertising and marketing executives said the way a creative professional's resume looks is either somewhat or very important to them. Take the time to design a resume that reflects your style and skills, yet remains professional.
- Overdesigning the resume. An unconventional resume (Infographic? Comic strip? Animated GIF?) might seem like a good way to get noticed. But if form takes precedent over content, you risk losing the message – "Hire me!" – to the gimmick. Your resume introduces you as a designer, but let your portfolio do the real talking.
- Not tailoring your resume for each job. Every job is different, and your resume should reflect that. As you're writing a cover letter and resume for each position, highlight relevant experiences and incorporate keywords from the job listing.
- Not following directions. Send your resume in the file format requested in the job posting, whether it's plain text in an email, a PDF through an online system or a printed copy via fax. To be ahead of the game, have PDF, Word and plain text versions of your resume at the ready.
- Not regularly updating your resume. Still working with the same resume you've used since your first job? It's time for an update. As your career grows, you should prune the document regularly. After college, cut any mention of high school; after your first job or two, minimize the prominence of your college jobs and awards. Take a look at your resume a few times a year to update it with your most recent accomplishments, even when you're not actively seeking new work.
- Focusing on job duties instead of achievements. Hiring managers want to know how you've excelled in your career. If your past position was as an assistant art director, it's not noteworthy that your responsibilities included designing pages in a monthly magazine. But the fact that you led the publication's award-winning redesign or developed the magazine's visual guidelines for social networks are achievements worth mentioning.
- Including irrelevant information. Listing hobbies and interests on your resume is fine if they're related to your career goals. For a designer, hobbies such as letterpress printing, calligraphy or photography show that you have bonus skills you could bring to the position. If you collect action figures, carve waterfowl or love bowling, that information is best kept to yourself unless you're applying for a job at a comic book company, a hunting outfit or the Professional Bowlers Association.
Follow our advice, and you'll avoid landing in "Resumania ™," our regular roundup of regrettable resumes and cover letters.