This week’s SMH carries an article by Tom Cowie, reporting events after lawyer Susan Cole hired online resumé company, 1300 Resumé, to write her job application for ASIO, Australia’s national spy agency. But when both parties – somewhat ironically – failed to spy numerous mistakes and Ms Cole wasn’t granted an interview, a lengthy legal stooshie ensued.
Ms Cole ‘sent some documents’ through to 1300 Resumé to help with her application, including a previous CV. Preparing for an overseas holiday, she requested her completed order arrive the day before ASIO applications closed, and 1300 Resumé duly complied. However, the required covering letter didn’t arrive until the next day – just 45 minutes before Ms Cole was due to commence her trip. Now running very late, Ms Cole ‘didn’t have time’ to check her application before uploading it.
It was only after her return that Ms Cole proofread the application she’d submitted to ASIO. Her subsequent 136-page complaint to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) claimed her CV was ‘littered with errors’, including inconsistent formatting; referring to her as ‘Danielle Garcia’ on the bottom of her resumé; referring to ASIO as ASIC; and a response to selection criteria that was 400 words over the allowed limit.
1300 Resumé owner, Monique Thompson, agreed errors had been made but claimed they ‘could have been fixed in five minutes.’ She also pointed out that job outcomes weren’t guaranteed. VCAT awarded only a partial refund to Ms Cole, noting that whilst 1300 Resumé had failed to provide services with ‘due care and skill’, they nonetheless were ‘entitled to some recompense for services.’
What lessons can be learned here?
- Never, ever fail to perform a thorough proofread. It just seems so obvious doesn’t it? But it appears both parties in this salutary tale singularly failed to perform this most basic of steps. And the results were costly – Ms Cole failed to get an ASIO interview for a job she really wanted and 1300 Resumé has suffered significant brand damage. Quality control is vital, so to put your name to something you haven’t personally checked is a high-risk strategy indeed.
- Submit well ahead of the deadline. Whether you’re submitting a job application, a tender, bid or an award submission, it is always politic to allow more than enough time for you or your team to perform a thorough last-minute check. You’ll not only avoid embarrassing errors but reduce stress induced by grappling with unexpected computer glitches common to online submission systems.
- Word limits are there for a reason. In Ms Cole’s case, ASIO confirmed that their system automatically deletes any words beyond the maximum; offering cold comfort that at least a portion of her response got through. So stick to word limits, however frustrating they may be. If you’re having problems reducing your copy to the limit, ask a professional editor to do it for you.
- Liaise with your writer. It appears Ms Cole’s only communication relating to her application was via email and text. There is huge value to be had by working with a professional writer who’ll conduct a series of interviews to find out what makes you tick and why you’re the best person for the job. This means they can then create clear and compelling content which answers all criteria within the word limits, giving you the best possible chance of a seat in front of the interview panel.