A resume is essential when looking for a job. If you donít believe me, try
conducting your job search without one. Even if your lucky enough get an
interview without a resume, you will be faced with explaining why you do not
have one when someone ask you for your resume at the interview. More than ever
before, employers require resumes. And, more than ever before, employers will
use your resume to determine whether not to grant you an interview.
An attractive, strategically sound resume can speed you along on your job
search. But beware, there are strategic blunders that you can make on your
resume that will hinder your job search and, in some cases, bring it to a
screeching halt. With todayís technology, nearly everyone has an attractive
print shop quality resume. However, the keys to an exceptional resume do not lie
in the appearance, but in content and organization, i.e. strategy. How important
is resume strategy? I have witnessed qualified clients who went literally from
zero interviews to more interviews than they could handle by changing nothing
more than their resume content and organization. If you want to get the most out
of your resume, you need to come up with a resume strategy that will work best
for you in your particular situation. Also, you must avoid the strategic
pitfalls that every resume writer needs to be aware.
Day in and day out, I help people evaluate their resume strategies, and after
more than 19 years of taking note of such things, here are the ten (in no
particular order) most common strategic blunders I have seen people make on
1. Being less than a straight shooter. I am more than a little surprised by
the number of clients I work with who want to include exaggeration or lies in
their resume strategy. Their reasoning is that everyone lies on their resume --
that is how you get ahead. Donít believe it! There is no surer way to put limits
on a career than building it on something less than the truth. By lying, you may
experience some short term success, but the higher up you, go the more
vulnerable you will be to exposure. Companies can tolerate some dings, nicks,
and shortcomings in your past far more than they can tolerate being deceived or
lied to. The higher up you go, the more thoroughly you will be investigated.
Also, at the higher levels, you will run into remarkably skilled interviewers
who know how to ferret out half-truths, lies and deceit.
2. Following old, outdated, and inappropriate advice. One of the most common
and most damaging mistakes you can make on your resume is to continue to use the
advice from your college career advisors long after it is relevant. They
probably told you to, "Keep it to one page! Use short bulleted phrases! Start
each sentence and phrase with an action verb!" This strategy may have worked
when you were 22 years old with little or no work experience, but this advice
has an extremely short shelf-life once your career is under way. Once you get
some experience under your belt, you can probably throw your college resume
3. Blindly following absolute rules. The first rule of good resume writing is
that there are no absolutes. Any rules you have heard about resume writing can
be broken if you have a compelling reason for doing so. There are resume writing
guidelines that have evolved for practical reasons, but they are simply
guidelines, not absolute rules. If you are getting advice that resumes should
always be formatted one way or another, or should always be a certain length, or
always contain or omit certain information, take this advice with a grain of
salt. Effective resume strategy precludes the limitations of absolute rules.
4. Using gimmicks to get noticed. A resume is first of all a business
document. Being outrageous to get noticed works against a qualified candidate.
Employerís value professionalism over flashiness. You can dismiss any claims to
mysteries, secrets, or tricks that will get your resume noticed or read. Like
with all forms of print advertising it comes down to content and organization.
5. Inappropriate style for your industry. Many industries have evolved their
own distinctive resume style. If you donít want to look like an outsider, you
need the right resume for your area of expertise. Resumes in some professions
may be credentials based, while other professions may have higher regard for
hands-on experience. Professions frequently have their own jargon and set of
buzz words. Here is a partial list of professional areas with their own clear
stylistic variations: technical; legal; finance; medical; academic;
entertainment; consulting; art/music/TV/film.
6. Being overly broad. While I can certainly understand being open to a
variety of positions, you can not come across as if you havenít a clue about
what kind of job you want. Resumes that give no direction at all are generally
useless. If you donít know what you are good at or what you want, you cannot
expect a potential employer to figure it out for you.
7. Failure to let loose. If you have a hard time writing good things about
yourself, get some help. Your resume needs to be as persuasive as you can
possibly make it. You are expected put your best foot forward on your resume.
Employers have no problem with that as long as you are not telling them a bunch
8. Failure to have a Headline: A Profile/Summary/Highlights section at the
top of the resume. Your resume should start out, in as few lines as possible, by
telling the reader why he or she should be interested in you. Donít let any
narrow-minded resume traditionalist talk you into leaving this out of your
resume. There are many reasons for this strategy, and two compelling are: 1) It
gives the potential employer a quick snapshot of the person submitting the
resume. They know right away where you are coming from, and have a good idea of
what you have to offer them. They can then read the rest of the resume to see if
your claims are credible. 2) It gives you an opportunity to generate interest by
presenting your skills, abilities and accomplishments right at the top of the
resume in the strongest possible terms.
9. Failure to include accomplishments -- both tangible and intangible. The
quickest and easiest way to improve your resume is add accomplishments. It
indicates that you have done things right in the past and, therefore, are likely
to do things right in the future. If you have been working for some time in an
area where results are quantifiable and verifiable, such as sales, your failure
to include accomplishments will be conspicuous by its absence. Some jobs may not
be quantifiable, but you can still include intangible accomplishments. This
might include participation in projects, improving operations, formal
10. Including negative information. You control what goes in your resume and
what does not go in your resume. Though everything that is in your resume needs
to be accurate, you do not have to put everything in your resume. To the point:
you do not have to include information that can harm you. I like to call this
"strategic omissions." For example, if you have significant gaps in your work
history, there is no rule that you must put dates of employment on the resume.
Will this raise some eyebrows and cause you to lose some interviews? Possibly,
but you will you have to decide which is more harmful, to include the dates or
omit them. Other common areas for strategic omissions are brief periods of
employment, jobs out of your field, jobs held more than 10 years ago, and date
Jay Edward Miller is the president of ResumeSavvy, LLC and author of the
new best-selling ebook, Irresistible Resume
. After 19 years as
professional resume writer, Jay now teaches fast-track, heavy-hitter job
seekers how to write their own Irresistible Resume. His hard hitting,
marketing approach to resume writing has been the talk of the industry.
Are you looking for more interviews and better job offers? Visit Jay on
the web right now at
www.resumesavvyllc.com for your Irresistible Resume today.