Resume Mistakes Exposed – Making it past the first stage

Part of my job at Shank Public Relations Counselors is to coordinate the internship program. As a recent intern, I understand the pressure and excitement that comes with applying for your first real internship at a real company. But with applying for big kid jobs comes the responsibility to make a good “viral” first impression. If you don’t make a good, professional first impression with your cover letter and resume, there won’t be a face-to-face first impression.

Two things I’ve noticed in the resumes we receive for intern and permanent positions: The first is my biggest pet peeve that your professors would probably slap you on the wrist for – writing “To Whom It May Concern” on your cover letter or email. Those are five words that should never be strung together.

Research the company and address your cover letter and emails to someone appropriate. When I see “To Whom It May Concern” on a cover letter, I instantly think it is not my problem if they weren’t really concerned with finding a real name that may be concerned about their application. (Did you follow that?) The worst thing is when you knowingly email someone but still address it to no one. If you knew my email you should know my name. If you can’t find the specific person, address the letter to the CEO/President. To me, that’s better than no one because it shows you did at least a minute worth of research.

After reading dozens of applications I started to pick up on similarities. I’m aware that you applied to multiple companies. That’s fine and a good idea. But don’t make it so obvious that you simply filled in the blanks (i.e., our company address at the top and our company name at the beginning and at the end). Caught ya! Make each cover letter and resume unique!

A deal killer is not editing and including another company name in your cut and paste letter that’s not us!  You will not get a call, email or interview.

Aside from doing research on the company and making it clear you know who we are and what we do, go ahead and use phrases and keywords from the job description in your cover letter and resume. While it may seem like cheating, using similar wording is a good idea. First, it shows that you actually read the job description and secondly, sometimes computers are the first to read your material and they will pass you through based on the number of keywords you used.

Working on just those two items will improve your applications more than you know. It’s a competitive market out there, and you need to make sure you are doing what you can to stand out! SHOW us you know what’s going on.

For other resume tips check out our website.

By Julie Stutzman, Account Associate


Same Game, New Rules, New Tools

The word public in public relations is finally, well…public!

According to David Meerman Scott, author of, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, the thanks go out to the Internet. In his book Scott states, “After years of almost exclusive focus on media […] blogs, online video, news release, and other forms of Web content let organizations communicate directly with buys,” (Page 11).

That my blog reading friends, requires a new rule of public relations. Public relations was once a profession that relied heavily (and almost exclusively) on the media to tell their story.

Hence the old rule: Buyers only heard about your company if the media wrote about it.

Now, we shall introduce the new rule: You can talk to your customers yourself.

Scott claims in his book that “if you do a good job telling your story directly, the media will find out. And then they will write about you!” (Page 10).

Despite the fact public relations pros are all really excited about the new rules, it is important to consider keeping the old rules on radar. I consider today a transition period in which there is a wide range of professionals. Some professionals would still prefer receiving a news release via email while other social media friendly would prefer you pitch a story via Twitter. While some day the public relations profession may completely throw out the old rules, for now, it seems in our best interest to be aware of both sets of rules. The key is to KNOW who you are talking to and their preference and niche.

So for now…go talk to your publics!

By Julie Stutzman, Account Associate