Job Application Do's and Don'ts

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by citizenzen, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    We beat the email address question into a fine pulpy paste, but left a number of other issues unaddressed. An email address is a really, really small part of the impression that I get from an application.

    Far more important to me is the layout of their resumé and cover letter. Are they well designed? What font(s) did they use? What size? What colors? Is it embellished with graphics or plain? Well before I've seen a portfolio I have a good or bad impression of the applicant.

    I'm curious to hear both what we do to impress employers and what employers think about these efforts (or lack thereof). Did you ever receive an application that made you hire someone on the spot? Why? What do people typically do with a cover letter and resumé that relegates them to the "unhireable" pile?

    What causes, big and small, conspire to paint a picture of an applicant that they may not be aware of?
  2. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    Considering the fonts and look can come from a template, the design itself either makes it easy to read or not. I don't judge someone by "how professional this resume looks" but by the content and experience in it.

    Make typos on the resume, and I am chucking it for the next guy.
    Skip education information? I do the same.
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    This will depend on the field, but I took it one step further... the more ridiculous the formatting of the resume the more I felt the applicant had to cover up for lack of qualification for the position. Bold and Italics are OK when appropriate, but some people get way too cute with underlines, boxes, and sadly with colors.

    The majority of the applications I saw were submitted via one of those web parsers in which the user uploads a file, the parser strips out all the important information, and then the user gets to correct what the computer thinks should go where. Unfortunately a great many people just assumed that the bot would do everything perfectly and clicked right through, presenting me with a mess which promptly got recycled.

    ...if you ever have to do one of those, take the time to go through each step. It's mind boggling to me why you wouldn't in the first place...

  4. CanonicalKoi macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2009
    Where the trilobites roam free.
    Fonts? Really? It might come down to Helvetica vs Times New Roman for the decision?

    Don't use "text-speak".
    Don't leave unexplained gaps in your employment history. If you weren't working from July 2007 to September 2009 because you were caring for an ill parent, just say so. If you make me wonder, please believe I'll wonder the worst possible scenario.
    Don't get cute. Putting a picture of your dog dressed up as a pumpkin on your resume will, in fact, catch my eye. My next action will be to feed your resume to the Shredder of No Compassion +4.
    Don't misuse first names. If you worked as a low-level, junior, part-time sweeper of floors for Senator Patty Murray, don't keep referring to her as "Patty".
    Don't lie about your qualifications. You'll either be found out in the interview or shortly after being hired. Most companies have a probationary period that allows immediate dismissal for weasels who attempt that.
    Don't call the day after you mail your resume demanding to know where you are in the process. Especially don't do that every single freaking day for a month. Be assured I will remember you and not in a good way.

    Do use proper capitalization, punctuation and standard (whatever the standard might be for your area) English (or the language of your country).
    Do follow whatever resume guidelines the company has posted on their website (i.e. whether they want a cover letter or not, etc.).
    Do use a resume template if you're not sure what's required and feel free to call the company's HR to ascertain just what information they want from you.
    Do make sure your resume fits the job you're applying for. If your applying for a job at Ben & Jerry's as an ice cream scooper, they don't want to see a portfolio of your art. Contrariwise, a photography studio doesn't care that you can recite all the B&J flavors from memory. Make your resume appropriate to the job.
    Do use spell-check and then have 3 or 4 people read it over to catch words that are spelled correctly, but still wrong. Personal pet peeves: "It's" for "its", the "their", "there", "they're" triumvirate, and "yours" and "your's".
  5. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Ummm... yeah.

    If we're hiring a designer and you've typeset your cover letter and resumé in Times New Roman, I will be highly suspicious of your ability to choose type. Not only the that, but if it's a horsey 14 points then I'll really begin to question your aesthetics... and if it's printed on plain white bond... well... then forget it.

    When we hire new designers the quality of well designed cover letters and resumés make it easy to see who puts time and thought into the package vs. people who don't. Details matter in design. I don't want to have to teach you that... unless of course you're just looking for a job as a production assistant... and even then we get people who know how to present themselves well.
  6. colourfastt macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2009
    And it's "résumé".
  7. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I have a feeling that a huge gap in people employment history will be pretty common to see from Sept 2007 threw oh 2013. Lets faces it people are being laid off and hearing about people going 2 years with out work is getting more common by the day and with the current average being over 6 months and rising it means it is pretty bad.

    I have read that for a few years employers will not bat an eye at it since it is safe to assume laid off and can not find work.
  8. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Pardonez moi.

    Bingo. If you're an applicant you have to realize the process works at a speed that suits the company's schedule... not yours. I work in higher education and searches can sometimes drag on for months. While I understand that waiting isn't easy, it never helps your cause to become a pest.

    For all the examining of qualifications, viewing of portfolios and checking up references the decision still often comes down to a gut-level decision of who among the candidates you think is a better "fit". You need to find every way to make your prospective employer comfortable choosing you. Stalking by phone or email will rarely accomplish that end.



    1. a summing up; summary.

    2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

    Also, resume, re·su·mé.​

    I'll take half credit. But thank you for pointing out that I use a less than preferred spelling of the word.
  9. RudyGrow macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2009
    Last year, we did a unit on making a job application form (in secondary 3).

    The teacher could not stress enough that you have to have impeccable grammar, be in black and white and use an easy to read font (My personal favorite is Myriad Pro, but Arial/Helvetica works as well). Also, you should have it organized . My final application had the following "template":

    Name and Contact Information
    Work Experiences
    Volunteering Experiences
    Awards and Achievements
    Skills (I included my computer know-how here) and Abilities

    Hope I could help :D
  10. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Rudy, you said the magic words, Myriad Pro.

    With just those two words you've enriched the lives of many, many souls.

    Bless you, my brother, for you are truly enlightened.
  11. gauchogolfer macrumors 603


    Jan 28, 2005
    American Riviera
    Since you didn't say what industry you're considering in your opening, I'd say from my perspective (technology/engineering) that content wins over layout every single time. Saying that you are concerned that a résumé would get chucked in the bin because it's printed on normal white paper is just crazy to me, but to each their own.
  12. Synchromesh macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2009
    If the employer looking at my techie resume (I'm currently looking for software QA jobs) is really looking for graphic design and fanciness then I would probably chuck that employer. Easy-to-read and typo-free is a given with proper technologies, experience and education being listed but anything above that is overdoing it imho.
  13. colourfastt macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2009
    One point to you. :D

    "Resume" and "resumé" are really just American bastardisations.
  14. Ttownbeast macrumors 65816

    May 10, 2009
    I guess teaching the skills to look for work, balance a check book, and file a tax return are no longer a required 2 semester course in high schools since this question is being asked to a bunch of anonymous users in an internet forum.:(
  15. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    I didn't want to narrow this discussion down too early. While my experience is in graphic design I wanted to hear how other fields judge applicants as well.

    Though in post #6 I did say...

    For a technician/engineer plain white bond paper may be quite suitable. But for a graphic designer paper is as much a part of the design as the ink that is put upon it. Any designer applying for a job should think twice before using the 20 lb. bond mom used to run through the typewriter.

    In a designers world layout is content. And it all matters. It all tells a story about the applicant you're about to invite into your working life. In another thread we talked about email addresses and in this thread, paper. I've haven't even touched on portfolios, phone interviews and personal interviews.

    But what I'm trying to say is that each little piece tells a part of the person's story and needs to be given proper consideration because the top candidates do. It is no accident. The people who get called in for interviews are the ones who've crossed their t's and dotted their i's and have a good portfolio and came across well over the phone.

    These aren't unrealistic hurdles I'm sadistically asking people to jump over, they're the hallmark of good designers. And in a world where good jobs seem to be harder and harder to find, if you want to work in graphic design it would be wise to give yourself every advantage.

    I suspect that if I applied for a job as a technician/engineer I'd probably violate 100 unwritten rules just as egregious as my paper example. Perhaps you could clue us in to what your eagle eye looks for when sizing up an applicant... besides the well maintained pocket protector. :D
  16. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    More likely they're shortcuts for people who are able to grasp the context of the conversation and who don't feel like remembering the keystrokes for accented characters we never use.

    A more or less universal tip is to write follow-up/thank you letters after interviews.
  17. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    In this day and age, it probably doesn't matter what fonts you use because you upload and apply to positions electronically. That is the recruiter will not even see your resume, but rather a parsed version of it.

    Also make sure you check for typos.

    I'd love to say what you should or shouldn't put in, but given the state of the job market, there's little advice that can help you. My wife has been out of work for over a year and nearly every position she's tried for, she's in competition with over 100 to 300 other applicants. I'm not saying this to scare you away but rather give you the proper perspective - its tough out there.
  18. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
    According to Dictionary:
    we we

  19. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    oui oui
    voila! :p
  20. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    If you absolutely, 100%, must use colour consider how your beautifully designed document will look once it's been photocopied in grey-scale and then then copied again (and maybe again). Because that's how they mostly reach me...
  21. Shaun.P macrumors 68000


    Jul 14, 2003
    Omicron Persei 8
    A very minor point:

    In my work we get CVs now and again and a lot of them are sent second class mail (rather than first class).

    To me that creates the impression that the CV was not important enough to pay the extra 12p (or whatever it is) to send it faster.
  22. AdamA9 macrumors 65816

    Feb 2, 2010
    I've only ever gone for three jobs in my life (I'm 28) and I got them all. Did the resume get me the job? I highly doubt it. Did it get me an interview? Sure. I see the resume as nothing more than my own invitation to an interview. Once in, what I say will get me the job, not how my resume looks.

    However, I do have a good looking resume, in Century Gothic. It was designed by myself so original too. It's spaced out and ordered as;

    - Employment history
    - Education history
    - Skills and languages
    - Other information

  23. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    You must be REALLY good looking. ;)
  24. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009

    At the very least, you might want to do a 'computer-formatted' mono-spaced version of your resumé that can easily be fed into an online application.

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