Job Hunting Tips

Application Fails to Avoid with Your Resume and Cover Letter

People2people NZ Posted by People2people
min read

Do us all a favour and leave the weird and wacky things out of your resume. Every recruiter has their own list of application fails to avoid. There are applications that are so bizarre that the only possible response is to be shocked that someone thought it was good enough to hand in.

Should interests be included or not?

The answer is that, in principle, they should be. Please take a moment to consider what you are going to put in though. Everyone enjoys going to the movies and hanging out with their friends. Those interests are so beyond generic that they are the equivalent of white noise and add no value whatsoever.

Even those generic options are still better than the weird things people put on there, like the resume we saw where someone listed their interests as playing with their hair. This might be okay if they were applying for a job as a hairdresser, but maybe not so much when you’re applying for a position working with a General Manager. That’s to say nothing of the resume that listed ‘eating’ as an interest. Perhaps this person was tempted to list ‘breathing’ as an interest too. Please make sure that you only add interests that are going to add some value.

Leave things like watching movies out of your resume, but maybe include that you play football and love skydiving. If you’ve not got anything interesting to put in there, then just leave that section blank. It’s one of those times when something is not necessarily better than nothing. It’s better to have nothing than to leave employers scratching their heads in bemusement over your listed passion for eating or playing with hair.


Right, time to move on and look at email addresses.

Everyone has one, and they likely don’t think about them again after setting them up. That said, a stupid email address will totally ruin even the best resume where everything else is handled perfectly. An email address like pornstar42069247 is going to raise some eyebrows. Take a moment to think about your email address. If it was risqué and funny when you first set it up in high school, then you shouldn’t be using that to apply for a job. Do yourself a favour and set up a professional email address.



Next we’ll look at grammar; putting capital letters and full stops in the right places and doing a spell check. You don’t need a doctorate to put together a basic document with simple grammar. Also, for the love of all that is holy, don’t use words that you don’t understand or for which you don’t know their meaning. We recently came across someone who said that they didn’t use enough ‘pseudo-reality’. The worst part? They said that in an interview, not a resume. If you don’t even know what ‘pseudo’ means then you shouldn’t be using it.



While we’re at it, you shouldn’t use words that are sourced from obscure reference books you’ve pulled out of some dust covered corner of a library. If someone reading your cover letter doesn’t understand it, then they’re just going to ignore it. Using big and complicated words doesn’t make you any more appealing or smarter – unless those words are specifically related to the technical role being applied for. Finally, we know that a lot of applicants have negative experiences when applying for a job; all of the times they don’t hear back, when they are instantly rejected, and when they get fobbed off by recruiters and employers.


'I've applied for hundreds of jobs...'

We also know that these times can be frustrating and they can be hurtful. We really do know what that’s like. That said; using your cover letter as a way to complain about recruiters or hiring managers and how you’ve applied for hundreds of jobs and only heard back from a few, well you’re just going to be rejected. You might think that someone might feel guilty enough to give you a chance, but any employer or recruiter will just find themselves thinking they may have an understanding of why you still haven’t found a job.

Just don’t do it. You can’t get anywhere by doing something like that. Some people might think that we’re being a bit harsh with that, but the reality is that people who look through resumes find reasons to exclude an application as much as they look for reasons to include it. If you include offensive, stupid, and weird things in your resume or cover letter, you’re giving them more reason to reject you and look at someone else instead.


All we can say is good luck! We hope that you get your ideal job with a properly written resume and cover letter – and a smart, simple email address.