This may come a little late for those of you who are already in the middle of recruiting season, but having gone over in excess of 100 applications, I felt it’s my duty to at least try to make a few things clear about what I absolutely hate when I’m doing resume reads (apologies if the tone is a bit aggressive, but I’m really tired of running into consulting job applications with these problems):
- Not following the directions – This is top of the list for me, and it almost warrants a complete disqualification of an applicant from my perspective. This is your one chance to prove to the company you’re applying to that you’re a great choice – and you can’t even follow the clearly stated directions? If the instructions say, “submit two applications through two different websites” – I don’t care if one website is poorly designed, if you want the job you’re going to submit it twice. If the instructions say “include your SAT score”, and you don’t because of some sort of moral objection – I don’t care, because apparently you don’t want this job enough to overcome that objection. Please, people. Most companies aren’t trying to make this difficult.
- Cover letters that make you sound like someone I’d rather throw darts at than work with – Don’t get me wrong. To get hired you’ll probably have to do some gloating. And, there’s nothing wrong with using your cover letter to try to explain away a deficiency or two in your application. But, when your cover letter does nothing but convey either how you are someone who thinks you’re better than all the people around you, I find myself asking, “do I really want to work with someone like you?” and answering “No, I’m going to pass on this one.”
- Purpose statements – Your purpose is self-obvious. Its to get a job at the firm you’re applying to. If your resume doesn’t establish that you have the qualifications and passion to do the job, either change your resume so that the “purpose statement” becomes a waste of time/space or don’t apply for the job.
- Skill: I’m great at Microsoft Office – Unless you are super-super-kickass at using Word and PowerPoint and Excel (and I mean, you could teach the hardcore investment bankers and consultants a thing or two), don’t mention this. Nobody really cares (when’s the last time you heard a company hire a banker/consultant/analyst because of their Office skills?), and everybody knows you’re just pretending to have more computer skills than you actually have.