Posted by Erik Even on Jul 28, 2009 in Advice
, Job Search
Let’s take a look at some more mistakes you may be making on your resume.
DON’T put full sentences on your resume. Recruiters are going to scan your resume looking for keywords. The more text you have, the less likely they will catch the words they want. Keep it terse: Managed staff of 12 people, not I have experience managing a staff of up to 12 people.
DON’T tout your college experience. Unless you are less than five years out of college, no one cares what you did there. Young people list college experience to make up for their laick of job experience. Now that you have some jobs under your belt, discuss those. Recruiters want to know you have a college degree, so just say University of California Los Angeles, 1994, BA Anthropology. Well, you’d say that if you were me.
DON’T be vague. When some people describe their past experience with a position, they write what could be a generic job description. Your prospective employer already knows what a Manager of Widget Development does — he or she wants to learn about what YOU did SPECIFICALLY. You don’t have much room, but concentrate on specific duties and accomplishments — anything that will differentiate you from the dozens of other Managers of Widget Development a recruiter will consider.
DON’T limit your resume to one page. Often applicants try to cram all their experience onto one side of one sheet of 8 1/2 by 11″ paper, believing that recruiters won’t read anything after that. This is untrue. You need to make sure all the most important points are on that front page; but if you need the room, go on to page two and even three. But unless you’re a college professor writing a CV, never go beyond three pages.
DON’T list your hobbies. You might think listing hobbies and club memberships will humanize you to a recruiter. Hey, this guy snowboards and is a 3rd Degree Mason — he must kick ass! In truth, they just don’t care. And adding hobbies gives the impression you are padding out your resume.
Got any more resume advice? Let us know in the comments!
Read Part 1 and Part 2!
Posted by Erik Even on Jul 23, 2009 in Advice
, Job Search
Your resume gives the very first — and if not done properly, last — impression a prospective employer will get of you, as both a person and as an employee.
Here are some resume mistakes — don’t make them!
DON’T include every job you ever had on your resume. Once, long ago, I was interviewed for a position as assistant to a film producer. Being young and naive, I listed on my resume every job I had held since I started working at 16 — including that first job, with McDonalds. My reasoning was, I wanted to show I had been constantly employed since I was a teenager.
Instead, the producer saw the McDonalds job, and spent the rest of the “interview” making fun of me. I didn’t get the position.
Not every employer is as much of a jerk as that guy. But prospective employers are only interested in jobs you have held that are related to the position for which they are hiring. Personalize your resume to your industry or career — and if that leaves gaps, be ready to explain them. For instance, I have a two-year gap in my career as a web designer and writer. I was teaching high school. I don’t include that on my resume, but when employers ask what I did for those two years my answer is ready.
DON’T make your resume a laundry list of job duties and skills. Don’t list every responsibility you had at a particular job. No employer wants to search through a long list of skills and experience, hoping to find what he or she needs. Distill each position down to a list of the three-to-five most important responsibilities. You’ll have a chance to discuss the job in greater detail at the interview.
DON’T list your skills and certifications at the bottom of the resume, or on the back. Make a concise list of your skills, especially computer skills, and put them at the top of your resume, right after “Objectives.” The key word here is “concise” — you can go into greater detail at the interview. A resume is a brief précis of your career, not a lengthy autobiography.
Do you have a resume mistake to share? Let us know in the comments!
Read How to Put Together a Resume — Part 1
Posted by Erik Even on Jul 20, 2009 in Advice
, Job Search
There are lots of sites out there with advice for how to snazz up your resume. Much of the advice contradicts itself. Should you print on colored paper, or not? Should you include your photo, or not?
Fortunately for you, I used to be an office manager. Part of my job was going through the stack of resumes, pulling the 5% that the human resources veep might want to see, and sending the rest to the round file. My advice is the right advice.
Here is what you need to remember when creating or updating your resume:
Only use white paper, or slightly off-white (beige, ivory, pearl, bone). Any other color is difficult to read, and looks unprofessional. Oh, and the 1980s called — they want their pastel colors back.
Use “fancy” paper. You know that extra-expensive “resume paper” they sell at the office supply store? Use it. Thick, textured ivory paper with a paper-maker’s imprint tells the employer I take this job application seriously, and took the time and effort to demonstrate it. A resume printed on cheap printer paper says I send out 20 of these a day, and if you call me for an interview, I won’t remember who you are.
But — do not send a resume on paper that is so thick, it feels like poster board. If you can’t easily fold a piece of “resume paper,” don’t use it.
If you are providing a separate cover letter, then use the same fancy paper.
Make sure your resume looks professionally printed. There’s an easy way to insure this — get your resumes professional printed. All the big box office supply stores now have printing departments; or if you enjoy waiting in long lines, go to Kinko’s.
But printing your resumes at home is fine — as long as your home printer does a good job. If you print a resume and the letters look irregular, or some areas are lighter than others, don’t use it. And don’t send in a resume if you’ve smeared it. Let your newly-printed resumes dry for a few minutes.
Don’t use unusual fonts. Allow me to introduce a friend of mine. His name is Times New Roman. Get to know him well, because unless you’re a professional graphic designer or advertising director, he is the ONLY FONT YOU SHOULD EVER USE on a resume. No, it’s not okay to use Arial (your resume is not a web site) or Courier (unless you actually typed out your resume on a manual typewriter).
And if you ever, ever use Comic Sans for any reason, you deserve to be unemployed.
Don’t attach anything to the resume unless specifically instructed to do so. Recruiters don’t need your photograph or business card. They won’t think it’s cute that you tied a lollipop to your resume with a bow. They just want your resume, hopefully without a staple or paperclip attached. Cute attachments get thrown out, along with the resume. Unless it’s candy — we eat the candy, and then throw the resume away.
Don’t fold your resume unless you are mailing it. Never hand anyone a resume that has been folded. Or crumpled. Or has a coffee stain on it. If you’re mailing in a resume, you can fold it into three to fit in the envelope. Do so very carefully. (And make sure the envelope is made of the same fancy paper as the resume.)
Got any additional advice for resume creators? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by Erik Even on Jul 7, 2009 in Employment
Here is another web meme, found in the wilds of the Internet. It claims to have been published in Fortune magazine. Anyway, it’s funny.
These are (supposedly) real comments and notes culled from resumes and cover letters. All misspellings and typos are original.
“I demand a salary commiserate with my extensive experience.”
“I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0 computor and spreasheet progroms.”
“Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”
“Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.”
“Wholly responsible for two (2) failed financial institutions.”
“Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.”
“It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”
“Let’s meet, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”
“You will want me to be Head Honcho in no time.”
“Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”
“I was working for my mom until she decided to move.”
“I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”
“I am loyal to my employer at all costs. Please feel free to respond to my
resume on my office voice mail.”
“I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and
“My goal is to be a meterologist. But since I possess no training in
meterology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.”
“I procrastinate, especially when the task is unpleasant.”
“Personal interests: donating blood. Fourteen gallons so far.”
“As indicted, I have over five years of analyzing investments.”
“Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store.”
“Note: Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping’. I have never
quit a job.”
“Marital status: often. Children: various.”
“Reason for leaving my last job: They insisted that all employees get to
work by 8:45 am every morning. I couldn’t work under thos conditions.”
“The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers.”
“Finished eighth in my class of ten.”
“References: none. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.”
Got any good ones? Let us know in the comments!