Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Colin Cuthbert from Ayers Management. His opinions are his own.
From the moment you advertise a vacancy in your company, the applications will come flooding in like The Letters from No-One in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. OK, well maybe not to the extent that the office will become as uninhabitable as the Dursleys’ residence, but you get the idea.
You then face the unenviable task of being able to hire only one of these candidates, so you’ll need to be ruthless in doling out the disappointment to all the others. In some cases, this can be a horrible process. In others, the applicants make it obscenely easy for you to toss their résume in the nearest dustbin.
Here are seven application and résume atrocities that should prompt you to instantly file a candidate under ‘Rejected’.
1. Typos and spelling mistakes
Unless Moses is applying for the job and he wrote his résume on a tablet (the prehistoric stone version, as opposed to an iPad), the applicant will have had access to spell check.
This is forgivable for obscure proper nouns, but if you see a résume with blatant spelling errors (e.g. “Fixed car breaks in a leading garage for 2 years”), you’ll draw the conclusion that this is the type of candidate who could blankly send an email to the client with the intention of typing ‘shut’, except that the vowel is not a U.
2. Overly casual tone
Applying for jobs is a serious business. Applicants should be doing everything in their power to win over a recruiter, so the adoption of a casual, conversational tone that is more evocative of a friendly 11am chat at Starbucks is a perfect excuse to turn them down.
After all, you won’t have the same dialogue with a friend in Starbucks as you will with a client in the office.
3. Snazzy borders and backgrounds
Colourful borders and backgrounds are great – if you’re designing a poster for a community event, that is. Alas, Résume writing is a different matter entirely. In the incredibly unlikely event that the application guidelines come with ‘Applicants must frame their résume with a chunky orange border’, then it’s OK.
Otherwise, forget about them and move on to the next candidate.
4. Use of clip art and emojis
Yellow smiley faces or frowns look cool on social media, don’t they? Yep, but where they don’t look cool is on a résume.
That’s right, people actually include emojis in job applications. You don’t need to be told with a cartoony smiley face that an applicant is happy with their past achievements, so anyone who feels the need to ‘embellish’ their reesume as such is probably covering up for crucial shortfalls elsewhere.
5. Cringe-worthy quotes
Much like the clichés that are hollower than an Easter egg, the use of gut-churning cringe in a cover letter is a perfectly good reason to reject an applicant. This can include sugar-coated pandering that will fool no-one, as well as the overuse of high-brow buzzwords to frankly say nothing at all.
You know, like the sort who says that they ‘provided effective business solutions to improve the efficiency of company operations’. Well done, you. Now, can you please rephrase that in something that won’t hurtle aimlessly through my mind faster than a Harrier jet?
6. An unprofessional email address
From time to time, we all like to embrace our inner stand-up and act the comedian when filling out forms. Sadly for any budding Jay Lenos, a job application is not the place for antics such as citing their email address as firstname.lastname@example.org, or something more vulgar and inappropriate.
You should instantly shut the door on anyone who can’t even take five minutes to create a competent personal email account.
7. Inappropriate font
Bubbly font types make us feel all happy inside and are perfect for invitations to a party. Alas, résumes are intended to try to land employment, so you have every right to expect a candidate to use a formal font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
So what if the applicant might think it’s boring? It’s professional, and that’s what you want from the person who will ultimately be hired.