Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Things Not To Do on Your Resume

-Don't overlook the spelling and grammar. It may look fine to you, because you wrote it. So make use of a trusted set of eyes to look everything over for the things you might have missed. No matter how unfair it may seem, spelling and grammar mistakes are one of the biggest turn-offs of a resume reader. While your proof reader is checking over the content, they might even be prompted to ask questions about it if things aren't clear. Whatever those questions are, you need to fix the content so they are answered.

-Don't try to stuff as much information into a resume as will fit. Less is more. Your resume should be tailored specifically to the job you're applying for. It should be worded and formatted so that it is easy to read.

-Don't write generic statements. Every statement you put on a resume should help build a vivid mental image of not only what you did, but how long it took, the scope of the task (how many people, how big of a department) and most importantly - what was the measurable end result. You have to compose your resume with the understanding that the reader has absolutely no idea how complicated your job was, how many people you served or worked with, and so forth. Use words that make it crystal clear just what kind of a contribution you made and how you stood out amongst your peers, both within the organization you worked for and maybe even elsewhere.

-Don't pick a font based on how pretty it looks. Pick a font based on how easy it is to read. The same goes for font size. As a general rule, sans-serif fonts are easiest to read.

-Don't include education and work history that has nothing to do with the job being applied for. People worry that paring the resume down will make it look bare, but in fact what this paring down allows for is the space on the page to amplify the entries that are relevant. This in turn makes it easier for the reader to find what they're looking for. Don't worry about the time gaps either. These discrepancies don't stand out as much as we think they do and are easily explained away during the interview.

-Don't include references from jobs you were fired from. Don't include people that aren't aware you're using them as references. Get their permission first and make sure they know what kind of work you're applying for so they know what to mention to the person hiring. A reference caught unaware could do significant damage to your chances for the job. This may seem like a no-brainer, but...

-Don't use an email address in your contact information that paints you in other than a professional light. shakinmybooty; trekkinator; methhead; metalmaniac; and wifebeatur may seem like harmless, humorous email usernames, but they can sabotage your chances before the person hiring even gets to read your important vitals. Considering how many options are available for free email accounts, getting a simple firstname.lastname@gmail.com type of address should be easy.

-Don't mention any hobbies, extra-curricular activities or non-work related skills or interests. The only exception to this rule is when these very things are of guaranteed interest to the person hiring due to their relevance to the job. For example, your involvement in Scouts might be of interest when the job you're applying for will benefit from this role. But mentioning non-work related activities and interests can also paint a mental picture that can be construed as a negative stereotype (reader's bias) that might put you in a bad light. Although a company is not supposed to pass on someone based on a stereotype, there is no way to know that a stereotype has affected the reader's decision. The bottom line is this - you're trying to paint a visual image of a professional worker with relevant skill sets and accomplishments, not a social creature, unless a social creature is what is needed for the job.

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