The Worst Resume and Cover Letter Crimes

Daily inspiration and advice for the ambitious savvy young professional

The Worst Resume and Cover Letter Crimes

Bianca is a junior music business and marketing student at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. She's passionate about digital marketing and is looking forward to spending the Summer interning in New York City. Follow Bianca on Twitter: @biancaeortega.
It’s been a busy and stressful time for me as I am knee-deep in applications and interviews for summer internships and study abroad programs. I’ve sent out more cover letters and resumes than ever before, and because of this, it’s far more important that my resume and cover letter are in perfect form. Summer internship season is one of the most competitive internship seasons, because it’s often the one opportunity that students have to apply for internships away from home or abroad and also have the time to take on an internship full-time. It’s essential that you spend time handcrafting your resume and proofreading every single detail before you start sending it off to all companies of interest.

As mentioned in previous blog posts by my fellow CA’s, it’s also important to spice up your resume. Companies will be receiving far more applications this summer, and you don’t want your generic resume and cover letter to blend in with the rest of the stack. I’ve included a picture of my own current resume to give you an idea of how a more artistic resume can be visually appealing. Below you’ll find some simple tips and reminders to think about when scouring your resume before sending it off to companies this summer. Some of these may seem blatantly obvious, but I only mention them because I’ve seen these serious resume-related crimes committed before!

1. Never Misspell Company Names or Information
When it comes to resumes and cover letters, misspelling the names of companies is the worst! Triple check the spelling of companies you’ve interned/worked for and the name of the company you’re applying to. Today, there are so many companies with unconventionally spelled names, so it’s important that you make sure you spell it right. Just like there are words that are spelt the opposite of how you would expect, there are companies who spell their names in a totally unexpected way! The same goes for any company, organization, or school name. A simple typo could leave Florida State University looking like Florida Sate University, and that’s something that is going to catch the employer’s eyes! In addition, if you’re going to name drop and include a reference, spell their name right! If you know someone with power who can advance your position in the application process, do them justice and spell their name right.

2. Use the Correct Verb Tense When Describing Job Positions
Not sure what tense to use? If you are still actively holding a position, all descriptions need to be in present tense. Likewise, if you are no longer holding that position, the verb tense should be in past. When employers read resumes and see misleading verb tenses, it’s going to make it confusing as to whether you are still holding that position or not. In relation to the verb tense, it’s important that you keep the tense consistent once you have identified which tense you should be using.

3. Keep the Resume Short and Sweet
I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your resume concise. When employers are reading through mounds of resumes for summer interns, they’re not going to read a short novel of a resume. Your resume isn’t your life story and shouldn’t list every single job you have had. It’s intended to provide a snapshot of the experiences and education that are pertinent to that particular position. Depending on the variety of internships you are applying for, you may need to have different versions of your resume and list different positions for each employer. One resume doesn’t fit all.

4. Make Sure Your Font Is Legible and Appropriately Sized
When you’re trying to make your resume fit into a page, the first thing you think to change is the font and the font size. While these are often two of the most simple fixes to make your resume fit, there are some precautions that need to be taken. First off, make sure you are using a font that is easy to read. Secondly, make sure you are not making the font too tiny. In a recent interview for a school study-away program, I was told my font was too tiny, and I can’t say I don’t agree with them. What is legible and easy to read for you is not the same for the employer, so to make sure your resume font is appropriate, have a few people read over it and make sure they can easily read it.

5. PDF, PDF, PDF
I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, and I still feel the need to mention this again. I’ve seen resumes sent as TXT files and Word files, and when they are opened up on a different computer, they appear as a jumble of text and have no formatting whatsoever. Nobody wants to try and decipher a block of text that would’ve been a thousand times more legible if it had the proper formatting and spacing. Therefore, ALWAYS save your resume as a PDF. The only time you shouldn’t is if your employer requests a particular file format for your resume and cover letter.

Some of these tips may be obvious, and some of them may not be. However, they are all aspects of your resume that you should consider, especially when you’re applying for competitive positions in a season like summer.