They say that first impressions are the most lasting, and when your first impression is made purely through a resume and cover letter, mistakes can be costly. What you present in your application materials is all the data a hiring manager has to decide whether or not to invite you to the next stage in the interview process. You want an employer to consider your qualifications and potential fit with their organization, not to discount your candidacy because of an error you’ve made.
At OneTeacher, we’ve reviewed thousands of applications and have seen these mistakes play out countless times–we’ve even made some of them ourselves–but don’t let them happen to you. Check out these three mistakes candidates make when applying to a new job, and if there are others we forgot, email us!
1. Not aligning your resume and/or cover letter with the job description. While it’s smart to have a strong resume and cover letter on hand, tailoring these documents to each job for which you apply is critical. If the job description includes “building relationships with external stakeholders” as an essential role function, your resume should include how and to what extent you have done this in the past. Similarly, your cover letter should speak directly to 2-3 elements of the job description and provide examples of how you’ve exemplified them previously. This shows not only that you’ve looked at and internalized the job description, but it also makes it crystal clear to a potential employer how you’re the right person for the job.
2. Making a preventable error like sending a cover letter written for another organization, misspelling the hiring manager’s name, or not submitting a document that the job description explicitly calls for. This one mostly speaks for itself, but it happens more than you’d expect. You can prevent these preventable errors by double checking the job description prior to submitting your application materials, asking a friend or colleague to proof your materials for you, and reviewing each document before you attach or upload them. There’s nothing that says, “I’m not invested in your organization,” quite like submitting a cover letter describing how excited you are to work somewhere else–which might not be true at all! The extra minutes double and triple checking your application materials will be time well spent.
3. Not PDF’ing your resume and cover letter. Prior to working at OneTeacher, I never even thought to do this. I struggled through the formatting changes that my beautifully stylized resume experienced every time I sent it to someone to print, and I hoped that if it was garbled for a hiring manager, he or she would recognize it as a lost-in-technology error. However, this is a solvable problem! If you take no other advice from this post, please–save your application materials as PDFs. It takes the uncertainty out of it for you, and it’s easier for potential employers when your application materials are permanent and polished. Not only that, but when you upload your resume to job searching sites like Monster and Indeed as a PDF, it’s far less likely your resume will appear garbled to hiring managers.
If you want our expert team to review your resume, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “resume review!” If you’re interested in applying for the roles at our 30+ Title I partner schools in Arizona, visit www.oneteacheraz.com/open-roles and upload a (PDF!) copy of your resume.