Regardless of whether you are
looking for a job or not, everyone should periodically update their resume. Considering
the volatile employment market, have no doubts about it, the good jobs everyone wants are available for
only a short time. For the harder-to-fill jobs, they call someone like me.
Regardless, when you identify a job for which you may have interest and think
you can update your resume and send it, or contact the company a week later,
you’ll likely be too late.
Now, during the holiday period,
is as good a time as any as we look forward to a New Year – are you ready and
able to act swiftly when / if a good opportunity presents itself? Whenever you
choose to update the document that represents you, don’t simply update the same
information. Drawing from more than two decades of experience, I’ve listed for
your consideration 21 resume mistakes and tips to improve your own personal
product brochure – because that is essentially what a resume is, a brochure
about you, more horsepower ready to go whenever you might choose to use it.
(Disclaimer: exceptions to the following advice
are if your career focus is within the creative, advertising or arts sectors)
your resume file/document
Many people name their resume document in a manner
which harms the chances they will ever be considered after it is filed. Data
entry staff likely has their own filing system by which they name and file your
resume in their database. However, don’t risk falling through the digital
cracks. The file should be your name followed by what it is, a cover letter, a
resume or CV, which language version, etc.
Some people want to stand apart from the crowd in
order to be noticeable in the pile of resumes opting to use unnecessary
borders, colored paper, color highlighting and fancy watermarks. Don’t do it,
it’s only a tacky distraction away from what actually matters – information
If you use a photograph of yourself on your resume,
ensure it is professional. Selfies are childish and using photos from your
vacation in which you cut someone out of the photo are also silly. Generally, I
counsel against photos on resumes. Some pretty people like to attach photos to their
resume, but consider for a moment that some folks are resentful; not everyone
likes the pretty people, which can also work against you. Furthermore, resume
photos are sometimes fuel for comic relief in office environments. I suggest
you not use one at all but if you choose to do so, invest a little money and
get something professional.
Use conventional resume formatting. Fonts are an
important consideration because many do not scan well. Do not attempt to be
creative in this manner, use primarily Arial, Calibri or Tahoma to be sure your
resume can be scanned in the best possible manner.
or outdated contact info
Don’t skip this vital update step for obvious
reasons. It would be a bummer if a company you would like to work for wants to
contact you and they can’t.
maddogmike@, quervogold@, hotness10@, princessbarbie@
or some other silly name might be cute amongst your pals but it is sure to
diminish your chances on your resume. Most people have a personal and a
professional email address. I’m trying to give advice to grown-ups, so if you
don’t understand the importance of this item, go back to your video game,
Farmville, Facebook or other distraction. Otherwise, establish and use an email
address with which you are not embarrassing yourself.
There are labor laws established to protect you
from discrimination and to protect your privacy (what little still exists).
Remove your date of birth, marital status and any other non-essential personal or
family info, it’s not relevant.
8 Vague /
Many people list an Objective on their resume. If
you do, it should be short and to the point. Generic things like, Seeking a good opportunity in a growth-oriented
company is BORING and not worthy of the space it takes up. My suggestion is
to leave it off your resume and use a cover letter to elaborate and more
effectively make your point.
To be clear, start with the most recent job and
work backwards down the sheet. Resumes, which list your chronologic history
starting from the oldest to the newest, are just plain irritating.
Listing employment periods, naming only years but
not listing the month’s gives the impression you have something to hide. Always
list the month / year you started and the month / year you left each of your
gaps in employment history
Be prepared to explain any time
gaps. If you were affected by a downsizing or a layoff, state it on your resume
on a small line in italics in between jobs; it will help to explain the
circumstance for whomever reviews your resume. If you worked for a company that
merged with another and changed names, indicate as much so it doesn’t mistakenly
suggest you had two different jobs.
“responsibility” histories with no accomplishments referenced
If your resume looks like nothing more than a
transcription of your job description, you’re wrong. If you lack much in the way of accomplishments you can list,
so be it. Here’s a question that may help you: in your various jobs, what did
you do for which you were particularly proud? What sets you apart from others –
in a good way? The answer to this question might qualify as accomplishments.
13 TMI (Too
Much Information, save something for the interview)To follow up from the #12- if you have many items
you want them to know about, use just the best few for your resume and save the
others for the interview. Because, if you put everything on it, telling them your
life’s story on the resume isn’t much of a reason for them to meet you – and
meeting them is the whole point of the exercise. Try to strike a balance.
Another piece of advice: the more recent the job, the more important the
accomplishments and the farther back you go, fewer are necessary. Beyond ten
years ago, just list the company name, dates employed and job title/role. You
can furnish them with more if they request it.
Complain, never explainRefrain, no matter how tempted, to vent on your resume
(or during an interview) or they will (rightly) assume this is the way you’ll
be talking about them in the future. Just state facts and no commentary, as no
good can come of it. A resume, nor a cover letter, are not documents with which
to vent injustices, real or imagined. This same rule applies when you interview
15 Obscure abbreviationsStandard and common abbreviations aside, refrain
from using obscure or uncommon abbreviations used to save space. For example, 82nd
ABN Div FBNC, 11B2P, Sqd Ldr, Sgt E-5, only makes sense to a small minority of
people. If you are not sure someone will understand it - when in doubt, spell
& grammatical errorsThis is one of the most common resume mistakes.
Imagine, when 10 people must be selected from 100 or more applicants, you can
bet that spelling errors and notable grammatical mistakes will be an easy
excuse to whittle down those numbers for further consideration. So the best-qualified
person with misspellings on his or her resume, might never receive due
no tables or graphsOften, these items cannot be properly scanned nor
do they belong on a resume. However, they can be part of accompanying documents
you can leave behind, after an interview. For more information, refer to the
topic of a “Win”- Book, in my handbook and found on my blog www.yourcareerquest.blogspot.com
18 No logosIt might be eye catching and look good but they can
be likewise problematic when you resume is scanned. Likewise, they take up
space unnecessarily so don’t use them.
(too short or too long)Don’t worry about too short or too long if you have
good information to share. If you have notable experience and it results in
your resume being more than two pages, so what. If you want to save some space
you can remove unnecessary things like: Objective, “References furnished upon
request” (of course they are)
20 No lies
or half-truthsGeneral rule; if you can’t validate or back up any
claim with documentation or proof, don’t put it on your resume. Besides, if you
get caught in a lie, it’s over.
21 No clever
slogans or quotesFor some reason people think a clever quote will
demonstrate or symbolize their persona, attitude or to suggest they are clever.
Demonstrate your persona and attitude at the interview, leaving the slogans off
Now, you are prepared and ready
to go whenever you choose to act upon an opportunity.
Personally, I think a resume is
but a piece of paper with little value in contrast to your own ability to
represent yourself, in person. But as
our world becomes more generic and the interview process increasingly formulaic
in every way, there’s no getting around it, you must have a good resume to get
noticed before you have a chance to impress when you meet them. Be aware, a
resume is but one aspect of the