How Perfect Resumes Go Wrong

Sometimes a candidates and an open position are so perfectly matched that it seems like nothing can possibly stand between them. Angels smile down on this union from heaven, and no minor mechanical error or resume formatting issue can keep these two fated partners away from each other. If the job post calls for very specific set of rare qualifications and skill sets, and you happen to possess EXACTLY these qualifications and skill sets, then who cares about a tiny little typo? And if—in addition to these perfect qualificationsyou also happen to live within a mile of the job location, and you’re willing and able to accept the offered salary for the position, what kind of foolish hiring manger would turn you away?

Prepare for a shock: This actually happens more often than you might think. And when it happens, it’s nobody’s fault—it’s usually a simple matter of mathematics and timing. Here are some of the resume problems that can keep you out of the running, even when your actual qualifications place you miles ahead of your competition.

1. Lateness

This is the biggest killer of perfect resumes. But since a late submission is often unavoidable (you may only find or see the job post after the closing date), you can work around this issue by a) submitting as fast as possible once you see the post, b) submitting anyway, and not being deterred by a post dated weeks in the past, and 3) aggressively following up by phone or email after you submit. Don’t be shy. If you want this job, go after it.

2. Buried opportunities

You don’t know which qualifications will carry the most weight in the minds of these employers. But you know one thing: You have all of them. So which ones should you place at the top of your document and which ones should you bury further down the page? Look to the post for your answer. Everything that’s specifically mentioned or requested in the post should be stated clearly in your resume summary and somewhere in the opening statements of your cover letter. The rest can be worked into the middle.

3. Confusing statements

Your employers want a certified expert in Type-A widget installation. But your most recent accomplishment or publication involved Type-B widgets. Don’t let this potentially confusing issue derail your candidacy (and keep in mind that some employers are very easily confused.) Jump out in front of this problem and find creative way to solve or prevent it. For example, arrange your accomplishments by relevance instead of chronology. Or briefly explain that Type-A and Type-B widgets are very similar.

4. A bad attitude

Make sure the tone and personality of your application matches the culture of this workplace (visit the company website to get a feel for this culture). No matter how qualified you may be, employers may lose interest if they read your resume and letter and see signs of rudeness, coldness, self-involvement, hostility, bitterness, or cluelessness. Be respectful, and keep your tone positive and friendly at all times.

Complement Your Experience with a Perfect Resume

Visit LiveCareer for more guidelines that can keep your resume, your cover letter, and your overall job search on track to success. 

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