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 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!
Posted by Erik Even on Jun 8, 2009 in Advice
, Job Search
Don’t lie on your resume.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: don’t lie or mislead during the interview process. Besides the fact that it’s wrong, you’ll always be in the precarious position of fearing you’ll be found out.
(And, a note to employers: don’t lie or mislead during the interview process. It’s actually worse when you do it, as you’re in the position of power. Also, you’re the deep pocket in the case of a lawsuit.)
Everyone words their resume so as to magnify their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. That’s not lying — it’s marketing. But every single fact on your resume must be correct.
Here are some common resume lies:
Lying about your education: After all, who checks with your college to confirm your degree? Employers do. All the time. And when you’re caught, your employer will take it very seriously. Usually, this lie gets people fired — even if they’ve been with a firm for years.
Don’t mislead about training either. If you finished a course, you can list it. But if you haven’t used the skills from the course since you took it ten years ago, be prepared to explain why it’s on your resume at all. (A good answer: you’ve maintained a familiarity with the topic.)
Fudging your age: Employers aren’t allowed to ask your age (except to confirm you’re old enough to work). But some people like to play with dates in order to appear younger (if they’re old) or older (if they’re young). I graduated college in 1994; and I rarely mention that I graduated high school in 1984. This makes me appear younger, which has been beneficial. But it’s not a lie. No one ever asks me when I graduated high school — if they did, I would tell the truth.
But don’t change dates — for your college graduation, or for previous employment. It’s the kind of silly, tiny lie that can get you canned when you’re caught. And it’s very important not to alter employment dates to cover up a period of unemployment or a job you don’t want to list. Employers do check with your previous firms. Lying will lose you a job offer.
Lying about salaries: Sure, you want to try to get as much filthy lucre as you can from your new employer. But don’t lie to do it — your previous employers will confirm salaries. If you want to make more money, sell your interviewer on why you’re worth it. But don’t lie about facts that can be easily confirmed.
Inflating your job title: Otherwise truthful people have been known to fudge a title, for the simple reason that they were in fact performing that position for their former employer. If that’s the case, then tell the truth — you were assistant regional manager, but in fact performed all the functions of regional manager without the title or salary. This is impressive. Lying is not.
Claiming skills you don’t possess: If you have used Photoshop to resize images, that does not make you a “Photoshop Expert.” If you took one year of college Japanese, you are not “Fluent in Japanese.” If you have a familiarity with something, then say “familiar with….” But don’t claim expertise unless you are a stone cold expert. Every HR manager has faced the horror of bringing on a new hire, and learning on day one that the person can’t really take dictation, write PHP or speak Tagalog. This person will be FIRED.
Posted by Erik Even on Mar 10, 2009 in Job Search
For my entire career, I’ve broken down the job descriptions on my resumes into bullet points. I had no idea I was starting a trend.
Today, job search consultants are really pushing the bullet-point resume. The main advantage is that it makes your resume easier to read, and it’s much easier to get across the most important points across to the reader. No one facing a stack of resumes to read wants to have to dig for the pertinent information.
So if your resume looks like this:
President of the United States
1/2001 – 1/2009
Served as chief executive for world’s most powerful country. Presided over two foreign wars, and was Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Served two terms. Spearheaded use of executive signing orders; ordered the curtailing of civil liberties. Misplaced a city in Louisiana. Imprisoned thousands in foreign jails without trials or due process. Supported financial deregulation that led to worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. Enjoys clearing brush, reading to children.
.. then it’s time to change it up. Don’t list everything you did on the job — just list the most important and impressive accomplishments, starting with the best:
President of the United States
1/2001 – 1/2009
- Elected twice to highest office in land
- Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces in two wars
- Appointed two Supreme Court justices
- 90% approval rating after 9/11 attacks
As you can see, no negatives are listed. And there are only four bullet points — include too many, and it’s just as hard to read as if it didn’t use bullet points.
If a potential employer wants to know everything you did at a previous job, they will call you or bring you in. The resume is your opportunity to just get across the most important points. Besides, if someone is looking at your resume for a job you’ve previously held, then they already know what that job entails.
The resume is your first and best chance to impress. Use it!