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Whether it’s a few typos or a wonkily formatted job description, a lack of professionalism in your cover letter and résumé can hurt your chances of an interview — even if you have relevant work experience — because it suggests the obvious: that you are sloppy.
“Generally speaking, we are wary of candidates whose résumés or LinkedIn pages are filled with errors and/or typos, regardless of experience,” says the CMO of a healthcare technology company. “Even if the job's primary responsibility does not involve the written word, typos may be portentous of other issues.”
Your email address is the first thing your prospective boss will see, and it can make or break your chances of landing the job. For example, if your email address is listed as TaterTotFreak@hotmail.com, the hiring manager may wonder why you haven’t chosen a more professional-sounding handle. Likewise, HR managers hate to see prospective employees emailing from their current work addresses.
Prospective employers pay attention to how you applied. Whether the company asked for a cover letter and you didn't include one, or you didn't fill out the application correctly, hiring managers are looking to see if you are thorough and follow instructions.
An out-of-state address could kill your chances if the hiring manager doesn't have the budget to relocate you — even if you’re willing to pay for moving expenses. Your locale could also hold you back if the hiring manager is in a rush. “It's not always fair, but in book publishing, we hire so quickly, [an out-of-state address] truly is a disadvantage,” explains a book editor at a major publishing house. If you’re applying from abroad, your chances are even worse: It’s rare that a company will have the ability to hire a foreign candidate for a job.
The most heartfelt enthusiasm can’t replace work experience. Find a way to get some — even if it means an unpaid internship. For example, an interior designer notes, “My work is very specialized, and I always hire candidates with a background in the field.” And no, the personal blog you write does not count as relevant work experience.