why “Sexy Mama” won’t get hired

When I review resumes, a surprising percentage of them go straight into the reject pile for reasons that could have been avoided. Here are the top reasons why.

1. Your cover letter is clearly a form letter that you’re mass-mailing and which doesn’t even relate to the job. The most extreme version of this is when an applicant leaves another company’s name in the letter by mistake — but plenty of times, the letter is simply utterly generic and displays no sign that the candidate bothered to read my job posting.

2. Your email displays your name as “Sexy mama” or similar ilk. I’m not exaggerating; I received a resume from “Sexy mama” last week. This sort of nickname or email address is so unprofessional that it trumps all else. If you like to traverse the Web as “Sexy Mama” or “Hot Chica” or whatever, go for it — but unless you’re applying for jobs in the adult entertainment industry, get an email account with a professional name for job searching. They’re free. (And if anyone out there does this and can explain what you are thinking, please email me and explain, because I am baffled by it. I almost wrote “Sexy mama” back to ask her.)

3. Your resume and/or cover letter have spelling errors or typos. Yes, these things matter. I’m assuming that you’re on your best behavior when job searching and if your communications aren’t polished now, they definitely won’t be once you’re on the job.

4. Your resume lists an objective totally unrelated to the position I have open. If you’re applying for, say, a communications position, your objective shouldn’t say you’re seeking a finance position in the health care field. Really, just get rid of the objective altogether. It rarely helps, often hurts, and always take up valuable real estate that could be better used to showcase your accomplishments. If you want to talk about your career objective and how this position fits it, use the cover letter for that.

5. The job requires a particular type of experience and you have none, and you didn’t acknowledge that or to try to overcome it in your cover letter.

6. You’re wildly overqualified and didn’t address that in your cover letter, so I’m left to assume you don’t understand the nature of the position.

In short, here’s the formula: Be meticulous and professional, customize your resume and cover letter for the job you’re applying for, and explain obvious questions the hiring manager is likely to have about your application. You still may not get the interview, but you’ll at least get serious consideration.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 2 comments… read them below }

  1. HR Maven*

    My favorites (these are actuals)

    c_hot_sh*t @ …
    chatterbox @ (couldn’t figure out why she didn’t get an interview)
    heavymetalman@ …
    cum_on_now@ …

    And a slew of others. Great post – I particularly love the email reference.

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