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Don’t Make These 10 Cover Letter Mistakes

Top 10 Cover Letter Mistakes

“I’ve now been sending my cover letter as well along with my resume. Just like you suggested to me. But I am still not getting any interview calls. Is it the economy or me?” lamented my friend Tanya.

I had suggested that to her because as per a survey, 87% of the employers were in favour of candidates including a cover letter in their job application. We can debate the actual number, but we can’t deny that a well written cover letter goes a long way in helping you stand out from rest of the applicants.

I had already seen her resume, so I offered to proofread her cover letters.

“Cover letters? I just have one that I send everywhere.”

There you go. Probably the biggest mistake job seekers make with their ‘cover letter’ (pun intended).   

Cover letter is your elevator pitch to the hiring manager on why you are the best person for their particular job opening. If you get it right, you multiply your chances of getting an interview call. But if you make mistakes in it, you’ll be rejected probably without even getting a look at your resume.

Let’s examine some of the most common cover letter mistakes, as well as some techniques you can use to avoid them when crafting your next letter.

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12 Startup Founders reveal their favorite interview question(s)

startup-interview-questions-revealed

Curious about what successful entrepreneurs ask when they interview job seekers? Wondering what it takes to get hired by a high-profile startup? 

We interviewed (ha!) the Founders of some of the fastest growing companies and asked them to reveal the questions they ask while recruiting new team members for their venture.

If you are a job seeker or a hiring manager, either way, you’ll find great nuggets of wisdom in this post. And some of these startup job interview questions will surely surprise you!

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Dear Software Engineer – This is why your resume was rejected

Software engineering resume examples

So you sent your resume to your favorite companies, and never heard back from them?

Guess what, you are not alone. Top technology companies like Google receive over 2 million job applications in a year and hire about 5000 people only. So the average applicant’s odds are 1 out of 400, says Laszlo Bock, head of people operations at Google. Presumably this includes all roles in Google, it is quite possible that odds are even lower for their engineering positions.

Admittedly, this is one of the premier technology companies, but the situation is not much different at other places as well. There is a good chance that your resume is going to be shelved without you ever figuring out the reason behind it. To not end up in the rejected pile, you must avoid the following mistakes in your software engineer resume.

1. Not sending your resume via an employee referral

If you are applying directly via a company’s website or through a job board, please stop!

As per the Impact Group study in 2010, job applications using networking or referrals are far more successful than applying online. 26.7% of external hires made by organizations came from referrals, making it the number one external source of hiring for the participating firms. 46% of men and 39% of women find their jobs through networking. The higher your salary, the more effective networking becomes. (src: julliengordon.com).

How to get referred?

Now that we know that referrals are the single most reliable option of landing interviews, let’s see what you can do about it-

  • The most obvious way – Apply to companies where your friends or ex-colleagues can refer you – See how Steph Jang hustled a job at Khan Academy.
  • Connect with an employee of your target company on LinkedIn and send them a polite and intelligent email. Patrick Mckenzie gave a great example of such a cold email on Hacker News recently.  Here is a modified version of his example:
    “Hey Bob,
    I saw your presentation at $CONFERENCE last year on Youtube. Great stuff; loved what you did with $FOO, in particular $COMMENT_PROVING_YOU_KNOW_WHAT_YOU'RE_TALKING_ABOUT.I'm also a $FOO developer. I noticed that your company is hiring for $ROLE. I’d love to be a part of your team. Do you have a few minutes to chat on Thursday about what you guys are doing?
    Thanks,
    Yourname
    Your website or any public profile link”
  • Sometimes, the ‘earning referral’ strategy also works where you get yourself noticed by other means. See if you can help improve their open source code or report issues with their product/site.

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Fresher Resume Guide: How to Write a Resume If You Have No Experience

How to Write a Resume If You Have No Experience

If you’ve been wondering how to make a resume with no experience, stop worrying. Writing a resume with no work experience is different to a normal resume, but it’s easier than it looks.

Basic fresher resume issues

The issues in writing a resume for freshers are straightforward enough:

  • The core issue is that a resume must be a useful document to its readers. You must provide relevant, concise information.
  • Always bear in mind that any prospective employer has their own specific criteria. You must address these criteria in full. If you don’t, computer screening can discard your application.
  • There’s no such thing as an all-purpose resume. Obviously, your basic information will be similar, but you’ll need to modify your resume for different employers.
  • Research the employer’s business! Use the employer’s contact person to get as much information as possible about the job. This can save you from some major blunders and provide very useful information.
  • More isn’t necessarily better in terms of amount of text. Stick to solid facts, without adornment, unless additional information gives you a clear advantage.

Formatting your resume

Your fresher resume format is critically important:

  • Your resume must be easy to read. Always think of the reader’s needs.
  • Use dedicated sections, not just headers, to split up your resume into simple segments. This is to help the reader focus on specific information, like qualifications, etc.
  • Make sure that your resume has a credible, professional look and use color to break up your sections. Some resumes you’ll see online look like junk mail, and that’s not where you want to be. Look professional!
    You can also consider using any of these beautiful resume templates on Resumonk.
  • Allow space for your information. Don’t try to cram things in to spaces which are too small.
  • There is no set-in-stone format for fresher resumes apart from the obvious baseline information required. If you have high value information, like an internship or project relevant to the application, include it.

Basic fresher resume layout

A typical fresher resume fresher resume layout is pretty simple:

  • Name and contact info header- Large standard font, all easy to read.
  • Career objectives- Optional, and not necessarily useful. Keep this section brief and clear, if included.
  • Qualifications- Spell out relevant information. Check to make sure you’re providing all the information required and clearly define your skill sets in terms of application requirements. Use the same keywords as the job criteria to get through computer screening.
  • Software skills- This is a common requirement for many employers and a major checklist criteria item for some.
  • Relevant practical experience- Projects, internships, related academic work if applicable. Ensure you address the employer’s high priority requirements in this section.
  • Achievements- Clearly define your achievements. Expand to include relevant position requirements.

Above all- Think!

The usual, fatal mistake with any resume is sending the employer some half-baked, incomplete, last minute thing you did at 4AM. A resume written like that invariably looks like that and winds up in the discards.

Checklist:

  • All employer criteria addressed?
  • No typos?
  • Looks good?
  • Includes all your high value information?

You’re ready to go.

15 Soft Skills You Should Never Use on Your Resume

Soft Skills to Avoid in Resume | Resumonk

All this talk about how critical soft skills are for inclusion on your resume and, ultimately, your job search success. Employers even list some of these “soft skills” in their job ads. It’s this unyielding catch-22. The employers want to see that you’re a “team player” and “hard worker”, but yet they don’t want to see that information on your resume!

How are you supposed to convey that you can meet the requirements of the position when some words aren’t supposed to be included in your resume? And how are you supposed to even know what those offending words are? Here’s a list of the top 15 words HR does NOT want to see on your resume:

 

  1. Best of breed
  2. Go-getter
  3. Think outside of the box
  4. Synergy
  5. Go-to person
  6. Thought leadership
  7. Value add
  8. Team player
  9. Results-driven
  10. Bottom-line
  11. Hard worker
  12. Strategic thinker
  13. Self-motivated
  14. Dynamic
  15. Detail-oriented

 

The problem with the list is it contains mostly generic soft skills. So what can a job seeker do? You can still give the employer the soft skills they’re looking for, but wait until the interview to show them you’re a great culture match. Focus your resume on showing them you’re a great experience/skills match! Switch it up and focus on keywords, quantifiable achievements, and unique successes.

Also, here’s a list of the BEST alternative words to use on your resume as preferred by HR themselves! Check out this list of the 15 best words to use on your resume on GreatResumesFast.

Avoid The Top 5 Resume Mistakes

Common Resume Mistakes - 2014 | Resumonk

Looking to land your dream job? Before you send out your spruced-up resume to employers and recruiters, ensure that you aren’t guilty of making the following mistakes.

#1 Using a generic objective statement

To obtain a position enabling me to utilize my strong communication and leadership skills that offers growth and advancement opportunities ..

Does your resume start out with such a vague statement? If yes, remove it now. Hiring managers literally spend a few seconds on each resume, and you’d lose the race before even it started.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, President of Career Trend suggests replacing the objective with a focused headline and profile summary that markets your value to alleviate a company’s pain.

Make it as relevant as possible for the job position you are applying. e.g. A preschool teacher can summarize herself in the following way:

“Passionate early childhood educator with over 8+ years of experience in cultivating young children’s learning through emergent curriculum. Fluent in English & Spanish.”

#2 Very few accomplishment statements

Most job seekers just list out responsibilities and duties in their resume. An often repeated advice is to use metrics to quantify your contribution e.g. “Implemented XYZ marketing strategy to increase sales by 35%”. But what if your job profile makes it difficult to come up with these hard numbers?

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, President & CEO of GreatResumesFast suggests the following:

Think about a challenge or situation you faced while employed. What action did you take to address it? What was the outcome? That’s your story, that’s the value you offer employers, those are your results/accomplishments/successes/contributions. By the way, it is also great practice for behavioral interviewing.

#3 Grammatical mistakes & inconsistencies

Review your resume multiple times to get rid of any grammatical mistakes. Michelle Lopez, Founder of One2One Resumes offers the following excellent tips for proofreading:

1. Proofread quietly, away from distractions like television, radio, family and friends – find a quiet space.
2. Slow down. Don’t skim over words, read each and every one.
3. Don’t limit yourself to reading your resume on the computer screen – print it out and read it on paper.
4. Read out loud. Hearing your words alerts you when what you have written is not what you thought you’d written.
5. Get someone else to proofread the resume as well.

Also, get rid of any inconsistencies in the use of hyphens or capitalization when it comes to employer/city names. e.g. If your previous employer was called PineTree Graphics, do not write it down as Pinetree graphics etc. Attention to detail is a much sought after quality in most of the jobs and you don’t want to leave a bad first impression about yourself.

#4 Formatting inconsistencies

Use consistency in font sizing and bullet point styles. If you are making the employer names as bold and dates as italics, do it consistently through out the resume. Be careful of the whitespace related issues between paragraphs and the margins.

Or better, use an online resume builder like Resumonk to come up with a beautiful resume for yourself.

#5 Including personal information such as age/date of birth or marital status

You are being hired for your skills and the value that you’ll add to the organization. Your age or marital status has no relevance in most job applications. You should leave them out in your resume.

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