The Cost of Sloppy Resumes and Cover Letters

February 4, 2011

 “I am a proven general manager with over 20 years of direct contributions in strategic and front lines operations in Early Stage, small and large growth oriented High Technologies and industrials companies. Able to intently focus on a business opportunity, develop the strategy, build successful teams to match cutting-edge technology to market timing while scaling a high growth business in competitive markets and focus on execution provides an excellent skills base for building successful companies and increasing shareholder’s values in today’s competitive market conditions”. Resume Introduction

Having sent out resumes by the wheelbarrow you are struggling to generate any sustained market traction. Disappointed, you wonder if perhaps the economy is softer than reported, or if your credentials and track record are failing to resonate with potential employers. As you contemplate the possible contributing factors, don’t overlook the role played by a cover letter and resume in either enhancing or sabotaging your employment prospects. Do these documents speak with an eloquence or elegance that helps your cause or are they plagued with damaging spelling, grammatical and typographical errors? If it is the latter be aware that many organizations will use such sloppiness to terminate your candidacy before it even begins.

Though I do not track specific numbers, I would venture that twenty-percent of all resumes crossing my desk have errors that reflect poorly on the individuals who submitted them. These range from poorly constructed sentences and grammatical errors (see opening paragraph above extracted from an actual resume), to misaligned dates of employment to simple typographical and spelling mistakes. While in some instances these errors appear as simple proof-reading oversights, in others they actually belie the credentials of the individuals submitting them. For example, a poorly written cover letter will not be overlooked when the candidate is applying for a senior communications role. Such a candidate should also know better than to write, as one person did in a resume, that he “coach’s kid’s hockey.

It can be assumed that no one intentionally drafts a resume rife with errors, and thus, all job-seekers must believe they are part of the majority whose resumes are error-free. Since this cannot hold true, it is prudent for everyone to have their resumes and cover letters proofread and edited before distributing them. At least so you would think….

About the author

Robert Hebert is the founder and Managing Partner of StoneWood Group Inc., a leading executive search firm in Canada. Since 1981, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements.

Contact Robert by email at rhebert@stonewoodgroup.com or call (1) 416-365-9494 EXT 777.