You’re sitting at your desk, the coffee is cold, and you decide that your boss has annoyed you for the last time. You’re going to look for another job and get the hell out of this place. You turn to the blank computer screen in front of you and start writing your resume.
How hard can it be to write your own resume? Apparently, it’s a task not to be undertaken lightly. Most of the resumes circulating out in cyberspace and snail mail-ville are terrible and actually do more harm than good for the prospective job seeker. How can you avoid the top ten resume mistakes? Let’s go back to our fictional co-worker and show you where the mistakes are lurking!
UNDERGRAD FORMAT – If the guy in the next cubby is writing his resume in the same style that he’s used since college graduation — forget about it! The old c.v. or block style format with the Objective and Education listed on top are not appropriate for anyone with more than three years of professional work experience.
DATES ARE M.I.A. - Our friend has jumped around a lot and does not want prospective employers to think he’s a flake. So he has decided to list the companies but eliminate the dates for each position. Wrong! Leaving the dates off your resume will surely cause eyebrows to raise and wonder if you have been killing time in a federally-funded facility or living in a tent in your parents’ backyard.
FACTS BUT NO PIZZAZZ – Mr. Job Seeker has listed his responsibilities under each job title. Yeah, so what separates him from the crowd? A great resume has got to include accomplishments and achievements that you have been instrumental in making happen. Increased widget sales by 65% in six months! Brought in 15 new clients with total billings in excess of $100,000! Don’t be afraid to brag a little, just be honest.
HITHER AND YON – Our co-worker has changed fields more than models change outfits at a fashion show. His resume just looks like a jumble of job listings. If you have experience in more than one field and it needs to be included on the resume, consider grouping the types of jobs together under specific headings such as “Instructional/Training” or “Customer Service/Sales”.
GRUDGE FACTOR - This isn’t the first boss our co-worker has contemplated throwing out the 10th floor window. Don’t include reasons for leaving your job on your resume. Do not mention “sexual harassment”, “lawsuit”, “workers compensation claim” or “fired me for no good reason” on your resume.
PERSONAL INFO – Sorry to say, but no one cares if you are single, married, play the trombone or enjoy league bowling! Personal information does not belong on a resume. Do not include your age, race, gender, or blue ribbons for gardening.
BE BRIEF – Only your relatives may have the patience to read through every job you’ve held since stocking groceries in high school. Prospective employers want to know what relevant experience you’ve had in the past 10-12 years. Highlight the most recent jobs and consolidate the past into a strong one or two page resume.
LOOKS COUNT – Our friend is in such a hurry to find a new job that he thinks printing the resume out on green or orange paper will get him noticed fast. He’ll get noticed and then dropped in the circular file! There is a coffee ring stain on the hand-written envelope which also happens to have the return address of his current employer in the corner — No, no, no!
APPROPRIATE TARGET – Just because our co-worker is fed up today and wants to find a new job A.S.A.P., doesn’t mean that he should send a resume to every ad that appeared in the Sunday newspaper! Take the time to target the jobs that you really have a chance in being interviewed for. Does your level of experience match the requirements listed?
WHY ARE YOU SENDING THIS RESUME? – Once you have carefully checked over your professionally written resume to ensure that the salient points mentioned above have been addressed, don’t forget one of the most important adjuncts to a good resume — the cover letter. In the cover letter, you have the chance to state why you are sending your resume to this company and for what specific position. Don’t make people guess as to why you have sent them your resume — make it clear right up front and good luck!