When I was out of work, I began reading a column in the local paper by a career coach named Eli Amdur. I have actually had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Amdur either on the phone or via email and he is always willing to help, especially Veterans. One of his articles, which I have used to instruct in my resume writing class, was the top 20 resume mistakes to avoid when applying for a job. Below is a list of those 20 mistakes, of which, Mr. Amdur has found 19 on one resume. This is because one of these mistakes cannot exist with the presence of the other.
- Spelling, typographical and grammatical errors. It’s the #1 complaint by hiring managers and it’s inexcusable
- Poor opening; unclear summary or objective. Without a clear focused opening, you will lose your reader
- Selfishness. Talk about your skills and what you offer the company, not what you can get from them or what they can do for you.
- Responsibilities/Duties. Hiring managers want to know what you did more than what you were responsible for.
- Length. Your resume should reflect your career: one page as you start out, two as you develop.
- Excessive wordiness. No recruiter has time to read a novel disguised as a resume; make your sentences short and to the point.
- Autobiographies. Your resume is not an autobiography. Stick to the important items. Junior high schools achievements are too old, too small and too distant.
- No community involvement/volunteerism. These tell the recruiter that you are a professional and a good corporate citizen, team player, and leader.
- Unprofessional email address. The first thing anyone sees when you email your resume is your screen name. Use a serious screen name that is proper, professional, and recognizable.
- More than one font. It conveys a message that you are disorganized, indecisive and/or sloppy
- Irrelevant personal information. Do not include anything like hobbies and interests. Even worse, do not include information such as marital status, religion, sexual orientation or other intimate details. It is not necessary.
- Too much contact information. Three points of contact is enough: mail, phone, and email should be enough. You can include your LinkedIn URL, but anything more is too much.
- Too little contact information.
- Present work contact info. Using employer’s facilities for job searching is unethical and actually theft of services. List your own cell phone number, keep it silent, let the call go to voicemail and return the call outside the building, if possible.
- No verbs. Verbs are action words. Start every bullet point with sold, taught, increased, improved, initiated, implemented, led, etc.
- No white space. Good formatting matters as much as good content, so make the resume easy to read.
- Trying to stand out in any way other than great accomplishments. Plain and simple is always better than fancy graphics.
- Too many versions. Keeping track of too many will lead to trouble; eventually two versions will land on the same person’s desk.
- Posting resumes everywhere. Submit where applicable, not everywhere.
- References. Not on your resume. Save them for the appropriate time when requested.
Just a few more thoughts regarding your resume:
Always have an updated resume. Your resume should be updated every 6 months. Track all of your successes and training as they happen. It is easier to do this when it is fresh in your mind than having to recall your accomplishments a year later.
Always use the correct program for your resume. I cannot stress this enough. Microsoft Word could be your best friend. You can either submit it as a Word document or PDF. Please do not use other programs such as OneNote, Excel or any other program that will allow you to write.
Please pay attention to your Objective. Nothing is worse than seeing a great resume and then seeing someone’s objective stating that they are looking for a job that they did not apply to.
Thank you and good luck!
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