Although many (maybe most) jobs are not obtained via a resume, especially one sent in “cold”, without a personal connection, your resume is still important. It acts like your calling card or emissary to the employment world, and as such, it is crucial that it not reflect anything negative about you. Let’s look at some mistakes to avoid in composing your resume.
Over-complication or inefficiency in format or layout. Avoid elaborate (and seductively free) templates unless they highlight what is important about you. Focus instead on getting key data straight to your readers’ brains: what you achieved. Remember, that the most valuable real estate is at the top of the page and in the beginning (left) side of each line. In the worst case scenario, a whiz-bang layout with bubble comments in half-tone print in the margins, (a real example from Word that entranced a recent client of this writer/editor) can confuse and obscure important information.
Stay away from jargon, and confusing acronym overload, or at least translate them. Every field generates an insider’s language and acronyms. The military is a major offender here (http://ubfacultyexperts.buffalo.edu/tip/145). But the desk your resume first lands on may belong to a Human Resources person rather than a fellow initiate into the mysteries of your particular craft. Balance sounding in the know with confusing readers. In this writer’s tenure in business school, matrix management was the ‘in’ management theory to work into every job history. The terms “diversity’, ‘multi-cultural’, and ‘best practices’ threaten to become similarly over-used. Additionally, be sure you can support any non-specific buzzwords like ‘energetic’.
Dumb grammatical and spelling errors. This is so easy to prevent and so deadly to one’s chances at a plum job. If you do not have perfect skills in English (and who among us has?), get a friend to look your C.V. over, or even pay someone to do so. It could be worth the extra effort to remove slang, ‘textingisms’, and other no-no’s not necessarily picked up by spell-checking software, a point made forcefully by some guidance from MIT faculty (http://vis.lbl.gov/~romano/Ed198-SEM/Top10ResumePitfalls.pdf).
Lying about your job history. These days, so much information is available online, that concealment may not be feasible. If you list an employer, be prepared to back up what you assert about that period of work. If the experience was truly awful, and you think you can credibly account for the period another way; that may be better. For very short periods of employment, it may look better to just leave that time frame empty. One rule of thumb suggests that anything over six months of unemployment is a red flag, but so is too many different jobs in too short a time
Not re-packaging your experience to demonstrate your fitness for the job opening. Spoon-feed your reader by specifying your accomplishments, with numbers if at all possible. Avoid just listing job titles – they can be very obscure. Something like “sanitary engineer”, meaning garbage collector, makes you sound a bit pompous, unless you make clear what your duties were. Quantify your contribution as best you can. Even if your job was flipping burgers, you could say that you served XXX number of people complaint-free.
Of course, the employment professionals say that it all depends on contacts, and personal impression (even in the government, you will eventually be interviewed). Your resume might not be the thing that gets you the job, but it is a critical component. Remember that it could be passed around the corporation or agency you are targeting. It could even make its way to a completely different company. Therefore, this is a document that carries your message of qualifications to every reader. Avoid the preventable errors noted above, consult experts if necessary, and good luck with your career!
Article by Jack Milgram: “I have been interested in writing since I made the acquaintance of pen and paper. As soon as I learned how to write words, I started forming them into sentences. And do you know what my first sentence said? “I love my words”. Later I started writing, but often left unfinished, many of my essays at school, as well as my researches at college, where I studied psychology and education. I started freelance writing when I was a student. I currently work for Custom-Writing.org (http://custom-writing.org), my frequent posts go live on their Twitter (http://twitter.com/CusWriting). Be sure to check out my writing tips and tricks! Good luck with your resume!