My neighbour asked me to review her teenaged son’s resume. He was trying to get hired for a service industry job as a host of local businesses were reopening and looking to staff up. There seemed to be many job openings available around town, but he wasn’t getting any call backs from his applications.
She told me that she was helping her son write a cover letter for each application, and she had proofread his resume for typos or grammatical errors. But still, there was no response from employers.
So, I carefully looked over the resume to see if I could find a way to improve it. It was quite short but very well written. The layout was clean and attractive. There was even a positive quote from a former employer highlighted in a sidebar.
The actual reason why he wasn’t getting any bites to his job applications was hidden in plain sight. Across the top of the page in bold font he had his name, address, and the name of the job he was applying for. He had neglected a phone number or an email address.
That seemed like a massive oversight. How could you leave your contact information off your resume? Then I found it. He had his phone number and email address in a stylized footer at the bottom of the page.
The fact that his contact info wasn’t where most people would expect it to be is a problem. Employers go over resumes quickly and make snap decisions about who to interview. If they get the impression that you’ve forgotten to include your email and phone number on your resume, they’re likely to think you aren’t a viable candidate. (What similar oversights might you make on the job?)
Now, my neighbour hadn’t actually forgotten his contact information, but making employers have to hunt for the vital information they need is still a mistake. If they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’re likely to just move on. This is especially true in a competitive job market where they receive many applications for every job opening.
Another common contact problem
When I called to tell my neighbour that I was done tweaking his resume and had some suggestions for him, I got the voicemail on his cell phone. I couldn’t leave a message, however, because the system voice informed me that the voicemail box was full. Nobody ever checks their voicemail anymore.
Except that when you’re looking for a job, you have to. If an employer calls you in response to your job application, and they can’t leave a message, they aren’t going to make a note to try you again later. They are going to call the next candidate.
When you’re looking for work, make sure that your contact information is easy to find – and accurate. Spell check won’t catch a typo in an email address or phone number, and if an employer can’t get in touch with you, nothing else on your resume matters.
Also, make sure you list a phone number that you actually answer and that has a (professional sounding) voicemail that you check regularly. You could be getting more responses than you think.
So, my neighbour’s son now has a revised header on his resume with clear contact information, and he has cleared out the voicemail box on his phone. Will this solve the problem and land him a job? Well, it has to improve his chances for sure. I’ll keep you posted.