1. GENERIC OBJECTIVE: If your objective could be applied to a marketing resume as easily as one for finance, then it says nothing and will get you nowhere. An objective is not an exercise in job speak. It’s an actual and real description of your skills as they’re related to who you are and what you want. It should vary with the type of job for which you are applying.
2. BLAND DETAILS: “Responsibilities included overseeing construction of four hotels in Tri-City area, each 50 floors high.” So what? Did they go up on schedule? Did you bring them in under budget? Did you take all four from site work up or did you pick up two of them mid-project? If you don’t tell the hiring company why you’re the best choice, how will they know?
3. ANOTHER JOB, ANOTHER PARAGRAPH: Don’t keep adding on to your resume job after job, year after year. By the time you’re in your 40s, you need to have weeded out your earlier, unrelated jobs. Drop your college activities, and leave your degree. You don’t need all 5 bullets for your entry-level positions.
4. REFERENCES: Shouldn’t be listed on your resume. “References available on request” is the proper phrase. Present them separately when they’re requested. This isn’t about protocol. This is about protecting your references so they aren’t called until you and the company are serious about each other.
5. IT’S NOT A STORY!: Don’t write your resume in the third person and no personal pronouns
such as “I”
6. SKIP THE PERSONAL INFO: You might think your baseball coaching or church choir participation shows you’re a well-rounded person, but they’re irrelevant. If the interviewer wants to know who you are aside from your qualifications, he’ll ask.
7. DEGREE DATE: No matter how old you are, don’t leave the date of when you were graduated off your resume. It looks like you’re hiding something (well, you are, aren’t you?), and then everyone does the math to figure out how old you are. If you’re trying to hide your age by not stating the date, what else might you not be forthcoming about?
8. SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK: Spell checking visually by you and someone else, any fewer than three times, isn’t enough. And don’t forget to check your punctuation.
9. GETTING IT OUT THERE – part one: If it’s an ad, you probably have instructions as to how to send it. If it says email, cut and paste it in the form, and attach it. You don’t know what it will look like on the other end because of the variety of settings available to each user. Quite frankly, you’re better off not emailing it at all, but unfortunately – besides not sending it – sometimes that’s your only choice. Emailing your resume takes any option for further participation right out of your hands, because often there’s no name given for a follow up contact. You’ve no other option than to wait and wonder.
10. GETTING IT OUT THERE – part two: If you know the name of the company, call and ask if they prefer email, fax, or snail mail. I know a recruiter whose email was listed in The Kennedy Guide to Executive Recruiters. He received hundreds of resumes emailed to him cold (so not pro-active!) and simply mass deleted them every morning. I’ll bet less than 10% of those people bothered to follow up to see if it was received (this isn’t a numbers game)! Candidates he contacted for a specific search received an entirely different email address. How about that?
You are the product, and your resume is the brochure. To find your perfect job you must differentiate yourself from the others who are also vying for attention.
Your resume must be specific, individualized, easy to skim to invite a closer reading, and focused on the accomplishments you’ve achieved with – and for – each previous employer. This tells the hiring company what you can do for them – and it is about the hiring company, not you.
The resume is what gets you in the door. If it’s poorly written, looks sloppy, is difficult to read, is cryptic, or necessitates being slogged through, you’ll be tossed aside and forgotten. And how can you decide if you want the company, when they’ve already decided they don’t want you?
This post was originally seen on Career Rocketeer and was written by Judi Perkins. Judi Perkins, the How-To Career Coach, was a recruiter for 22 years and worked with hundreds of hiring authorities on entry level through CEO. She set up over 15,000 interviews, and has seen over half a million resumes. Her clients often find jobs 8 – 12 weeks because she brings them sequence, structure and focus, and shows why typical strategies often fail. She’s been on PBS’s Frontline, Good Morning Connecticut, in Smart Money magazine, CareerBuilder, MSN Careers, Yahoo Hot Jobs, New York Times, New York Daily News, multiple radio shows including a regular Thursday morning gig, and quoted in numerous career books. Sign up for her free newsletter at www.FindthePerfectJob.com.