Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is Your Resume a Turkey?

Many people with great job skills and noteworthy achievements have resumes that are poorly written and fail to market their candidacy appropriately. Is your resume a turkey? Compare your document content against these common resume mistakes.

Task Overload

Most people's resumes have exhaustive lists of job tasks but never chronicle how those job tasks contributed to the bottom line for the company. Without an accomplishment focused resume, your document is bound to get lost in a sea of mediocrity. Stand out from the crowd by showcasing examples of how you help the companies you support make money, save money, and save time.

An exercise to help you think of your experiences in terms of accomplishments is to identify the problems or challenges you faced on the job, the actions you took to overcome the obstacles, and the results achieved by your actions. By creating these stories, you capitalize on what makes you unique, rather than dwelling on the tasks that are part of many people's jobs that make you forgettable.

Claustrophobic Text

Good content helps make a good resume. But sometimes people include so much content in the resume that they sacrifice design and end up with a document that has so much text that it suffocates the reader. Choose a font size no smaller than 10 point and break the text up by using bullets and spaces rather than big blocky paragraphs. Keep the margins to at least .6 on all sides. These strategies will make your document more "user friendly" and encourage the hiring manager to read on.

Spellcheck Suicide

Many recruiters and hiring managers agree that having a typo on a resume is the fastest way to get placed in the "no" pile. It can be hard to review your own resume. By the time you finish it, you are so close to the situation that it can be hard to spot errors. Here are a few suggestions for catching those pesky typos.

  1. Use spell-check wisely. Spell-check is a great tool, but supplement spell-check with several human rounds of proofreading.
  2. Read the document backwards. Doing so forces you to slow down and pay attention to each word rather than skimming the sentence.
  3. Ask a friend or trusted colleague to proofread the document. It's amazing what a fresh set of eyes will spot.
  4. Get an 8th grade English teacher to read your resume. OK, maybe they are harder to come by, but they will know it all when it comes to spelling and grammar.
Email Etiquette

Your email address is part of your professional image and a critical piece of information on your resume. Email addresses that are cute, silly, provocative, or difficult to key just won't cut it with hiring managers. Chose an address that is some combination of your first and last name and avoid using long strings of numbers or letters that don't form a word. Email addresses are part of your professional persona. You want to stand out from the crowd because of your unique accomplishments, not your unusual email address. Keep it simple and professional and you will quickly elevate your credibility with hiring authorities.

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