Education Career Services

February 19, 2010

Career Death by Attrition

Filed under: Career Cafe — EducationCS @ 4:37 am

How damaging is a misspelled word on a résumé?   Really?  Will it cost you an interview?  Will two misspelled words?  Three?

We hear those questions often.  Obviously poor attention-to-detail can be costly.  All things being equal, a misspelled word won’t sink your chances.  But all things are not equal in a résumé.  Is alignment off just a hair?  Are there small spacing issues?  Is it a little unbalanced on the page?  Do the headings and the body text clash?  Is grammar and language usage consistent?  Does that word really mean what you think it does?

Each of these tiny flaws may not spell doom individually, but a twinkle off in a few areas—areas you don’t even know to think about—and the interview may go to the other guy.

Consider the arsenal of career tools leading up to a successful hire: networking, career documents, the application, telephone and e-mail technique, interview skills, follow up… there’s a lot involved.  Your career documents have one major difference from all the other tools; you have time to perfect them.

Even the best public presenter will have a gaffe or two in their interview; a networking contact can be put off by an innocent comment; poor handwriting on the application can obscure a word or two on the application… the fact is that you have to expect small flaws in face-to-face, no-do-over circumstances.  Maybe you anticipated speaking to a live human when you called and were surprised by a message machine and so bobbled the voice message…  It’s imperative to nail the resume and any other written materials because with those you have complete control.

A high school teacher rang true when she said, “Master writing.  Every business needs strong writers, solid communicators, and quick-in-a-pinch professionals.  Jobs go to the communicators; promotions go to effective writers.  It is the one professional skill too often overlooked.  How you present yourself in print is just as important as how well you speak.”

Not confident in your writing?  Don’t know what the terms in the second paragraph above mean?  Victim of document attrition?  First, commit to improving; second, hire professionals to create your career documents for you.  You wouldn’t cut your own hair the day of an interview, right?

For more information, post a comment.  We’d be glad to help you.

Rob Swanson
Managing Writer – Career Services International

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