Last month we offered you some free templates to help you create unique and innovative résumés.
In line with this help, here are ten things to avoid. They pretty much guarantee that your résumé effort will end up in the circular file:
1. Not enough information
Make sure you’re applying specifically to the job being advertised. Tweak your résumé to provide the information the recruiter or prospective employer is looking for. If you don’t provide basic information in an easy-to-spot way, the person reading your résumé may give up before you’ve even had a chance to make your case.
And too much information about yourself is as bad as too little. Does the prospective employer really want to know you got an Eagle Scout badge or made it to the finals in a cook-off? (And since it’s the rare occasion when a photo is useful, forget the pic.)
If you say you worked for ABC company from 2000 to 2002, and the next job, at DEF, begins in 2005, red flags will go up! The person reading the résumé will wonder what the heck you were doing for those three missing years. So if you do have a gap, it’s better to explain it than hope people won’t notice. (They will.)
If your résumé says you speak a foreign language fluently, and you don’t, you may as well shoot yourself. All recruiters will be quick to tell you to be transparent, be honest, don’t put anything in that résumé you can’t prove or support in an interview.
5. Poor presentation
Job-hunting is work. Especially in down economic times. So put as much effort into your résumé as you would into a job. Make no spelling errors. Make no grammatical errors. Use formatting that enables a reader to see at a glance all the pertinent information. (Dates of employment, employers’ names, job titles, for example.) And, by the way, do NOT rely on a spellcheck function … the software is sometimes just plain wrong!
6. Too many pages
To a beginning jobseeker, a one-page résumé should be plenty. For the more experienced professional, two or three pages can be acceptable. Again, the easier it is to find the key information, the better. (Remember, the person on the other end of your résumé may be reading a hundred résumés … so make it easy for the poor soul!)
7. Opinions and editorials
The résumé is not the place to tell people how good or smart or reliable or whatever you are. The résumé is the list of the facts of your employment, not opinions about it. (And in the interview, try to be modest. A good interviewer will be able to see how capable you are.)
Leave the judgment calls to the people who interview you.
8. Complicated formats
Most professionals will tell you that a résumé should be typed in black Times Roman or Arial font and in a legible size (12-point should be fine for the eyes of most readers). For special words or phrases, it’s okay to underline, use italics or bold face.
And if you must use color, don’t use more than one or two colors; and choose colors that aren’t glaring, like blue and gray. If you’re a designer or a professional in an artistic or creative area, use your best judgment about color in the résumé.
9. Bad translation
A bad translation will leave a bad impression. If you need your résumé translated, find professionals fluent in the languages you need to use. Spending the money will be worth it in the long run.
10. Evasion and ambiguity
You résumé needs to present clearly the level of your experience. So don’t be vague in your work descriptions. Again, people will notice and wonder why you’re not being more specific.
The bottom line here is that a résumé is you on paper… well, you in your party clothes and looking fabulous, anyway. So if you don’t have the skill set to put you on paper in the best possible professional light, hire an expert to do it for you. They’re out there, and they can get results. Again, money well spent!