Your resume is one of the most important parts of the job search because it is often the first impression a potential employer has of you. However, with most employers being overwhelmed by resumes, sometimes in the hundreds. Yyou have between 15-30 seconds to capture the recruiter's attention. There are many different ways to construct your resume, but there are some general rules you should follow to avoid blowing this aspect of your job search. By staying away from these common mistakes, your resume will more likely be read by a prospective employer.
Remember the resume does not get you the job. The purpose of the resume is to have it read by someone who can give you an interview. The interview gets you the job. These are my top 10 fastest ways to land your resume in the employer's trash can:
1. Too Long
Keep it concise, taking into account that the top half of your resume is the most critical. It should be one page for every ten years of experience, but leave space between your experiences for easier reading; you don't want it to appear crammed. You can expect to write at least two drafts. If you are having problems fitting it onto one page, then contact a professional career counselor for help.
2. Too Poorly Organized
Chose your categories carefully. If there is no logical order or arrangement, it will be hard to follow and difficult to read. List your education first unless you have been out of school for many years. Center the heading at the top in size 14 font, list dates on the right side, and "frame" it with .5" margins. Don't list references; save them for a separate page to submit to employers upon their request.
3. Too Poorly Typed or Printed
One of the best ways to blow your resume is to use one of those computerized cookie cutter resume writing programs. A one size fits all program will not properly align or center your resume, giving it a very unprofessional look. Don't forget to laser print it with standard size fonts between 10-12 and traditional fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman in Microsoft Word.
4. Too Poorly Written
Building a resume takes time and careful preparation. At all costs, you should avoid salary expectations, verbose language, poor grammar, spelling errors, typos, overuse of same adjectives or verbs, as well as unclear proper names or acronyms. Stay away from poor sentence structure such as phrases beginning with: "Responsible for..." or "Worked at...". Omit articles like "a" and "the."
5. Too Unclear of a Career Objective
If the reader might have trouble figuring out what you want, then you need a one line objective. Be sure that it is not too long or too general, and it more clearly defines your focus to the particular company.
6. Too Incomplete Description of Experiences
Qualify and quantify what you offer. "Last semester I did an internship" is not specific enough in your description of your various experiences. Instead, use action verbs to highlight your accomplishments such as edited, organized, reviewed, designed, coordinated, developed etc.
7. Too Much Irrelevant Personal Information
You do not need to include everything about you on the resume, only the important information for the job or particular employer that will get you the interview. Be sure you focus on your internships and relevant experience. Avoid including personal information such as your height, weight, marital status, date of birth, religion, race, national origin, or photos etc.
8. Too Slick
Don't print your resume on exotic or colored paper or use fancy typesetting, binders or photographs. Stick with conventional 25% bonded off-white resume paper available at any office store.
9. Too Poorly Presented
Too many resumes arrive on an employer's desk unrequested and with little or no apparent connections to the organization. Be sure to craft a well tailored cover letter to avoid this mistake. When you send it, use a large envelope so that when it arrives, it will sit flat on a recruiter's desk without any creases.
10. Too Boastful
The resume is about you, but it is for someone else's eyes. Be honest and keep it employer centered. Never lie, "pad" or stretch the truth about your job duties and accomplishments. Be prepared to back up all items on the resume in an interview. Employers will often follow up and check your sources for accuracy. If you are hired and a company finds out about your inaccuracies on your resume, you will most likely be fired immediately. Don't blow it.