In today’s competitive job market, how you communicate with potential employers can make your skills stand out. Making sure you effectively express yourself, accurately represent your abilities, and stay present throughout the process is what makes the difference in ultimately receiving a job offer.
Your first interaction with your desired company is likely to happen through writing. But you’ll need more than just a sparkling resume and cover letter. With that in mind, I’ll show you what to avoid, how to get the most from your resume and cover letter, and how to approach email correspondence with your future employers.
3 no-nos to avoid on your resume
1. Overlooking grammar. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that at Grammarly, we tend to keep a close eye on spelling, grammar, and punctuation in resumes. But above all else, practical communication is what we assess when we’re looking at someone’s experiences on paper. Can we understand what you’re talking about? Do you highlight the most important information? Certain roles, like our recently filled community manager position, require an even closer examination of writing skills because of the necessity of writing in that role’s day-to-day function. Writing is an essential skill we look for in potential candidates because at the very least, everyone writes emails as a representative of their company.
2. Misrepresenting employment history. Pay close attention to your employment section. It’s noticeable when someone’s resume dates are incorrect or out of order. You should tailor your resume to the type of position you’re seeking, but it’s critical that you accurately represent your employment history and career development.
3. Use no more than two pages. When people say keep your resume on one page, I don’t think that applies as much to our present-day workforce. We’re not receiving paper resumes anymore, so two-page breakdowns are fine. If it takes more than one page to show the value of your work history, so be it. Don’t shy away from detailing what makes you an ideal fit.
3 cover letter faux pas you should be aware of
1. Addressing it to the wrong recipient. It always irks me when I read a cover letter that is addressed to another company. That’s an immediate red flag and could lead to a candidate being rejected. I can tell the letter was copied and pasted. We read all incoming cover letters here at Grammarly, so I would highly recommend you double-check your intended audience because most companies that require a letter will read them.
2. Generalizing your experience. You can tell when someone hasn’t spent much time crafting their cover letter. We require them when writing is essential to a particular role. We also value them because we want to know how someone’s work background relates to our opening. A lot of people write about how they’re so great for the position because they did X, Y and Z at their previous company, but the things they describe are not relevant to our job posting. If you’re writing a letter, tell me how your past experience is going to translate into what we need.
3. Rewriting your resume in letter form. People often overlook that we do have your resume in your application, so there’s tons of additional information there that doesn’t need to be re-explained. Detail the reasons you would be good for the role and highlight the experience that makes you qualified. If it’s a role that is different than your work experience, the letter offers a chance to show us why you’re interested.
3 ways you can hurt your chances via email
1. Not being aware of timing. If I’ve informed a candidate that they’re advancing to another stage of the interview process—a phone call, an on-site interview, or a reference check—and they’re not getting back to me within 24 hours, I tend to think there’s a lack of interest on the candidate’s part. Be present and engaged for any and all conversations throughout the interview process.
2. Responding with typos. Email mistakes might be considered a red flag for some, but I don’t consider it to be an immediate deal-breaker. Let’s be completely honest … email typos happen. They’re not ideal, but they do happen. People’s brains move so fast that a minor mistake is understandable. I’m not going to suddenly remove someone from consideration because of one error, especially if they’ve already made it to an advanced stage in the interview process. But if it happens over and over, I reconsider moving the candidate forward due to their lack of attention to detail.
3. Missing a simple opportunity to say, “Thank you.” Expressing gratitude still goes a long way. When I receive a thank you email from a candidate, I feel more inclined to push them along in the process a little bit faster. A recent hire at Grammarly went above and beyond on this front. She met with our recruiting team and came back later that day to meet with our executive team. In between the interviews, she gave us handwritten thank you notes. It was so thoughtful, and it spoke to her sincere interest in the role and the company.
Mastering effective communication is an important goal in any job search. Strong writing, for that matter, is one of the key ways you can increase your chances of landing a new position. Grammarly’s blog is here to help you take your writing to the next level.