Some resumes will move you to the top of the pile. Other resumes will never see the light of day. Which one is yours? Over 25% of resumes are eliminated with a casual scan. Here are the most obvious problems to avoid:
1. A 3 page resume of dense narrative: If the information doesn’t advance your candidacy, drop it. Too much information diminishes the reading time to focus on the really important data: Your results. Targeted results are better than endless stories about your life.
2. A photo: If you’re a model or an actor: OK. However, remember that it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against job candidates based on appearance. That means by attaching a snapshot you put the hiring organization in an awkward position. Some will discard a resume as soon as they see a photo.
3. Irrelevant information: If the prospective employer wants to know more about you, that’s what an interview is for. Don’t include data about religion, politics, race, age or family information unless it’s called for or related directly to the job opening.
4. Obvious fabrications: Embellishments will often cost the applicant the job opportunity. Some people will fudge facts about a timeline, work history or open time between jobs. Always assume that someone will check every detail. One factual error puts a cloud over all the other content. Hiding something can be a serious misstep.
5. Confidential information: Be careful with proprietary information. Sharing sensitive information puts you at risk. It shows the potential employer that you can’t be trusted and it could be grounds for termination or legal action with your current employer.
6. Expectations of title or salary: It’s not smart to put your expectations in your resume. A hiring organization may have something else in mind. During an interview you may be asked for the information. Give them a range when asked. A specific number may be too high or too low and work against you.
7. Listing references: Providing references on your resume is passé. You should have excellent professional references at the ready, not personal ones. Always check with a potential reference to make sure it’s OK with them. Never make it a surprise.
8. Negative comments: Leave out any information on a resume that is negative. If there is something about you, save it for the interview when you are prepared to explain the situation. Never, ever speak negatively about your current or past organization or boss. Be neutral and communicate why the position was not right for you at that time.
Always research what the organization needs and is looking for, then focus your resume and attention on fulfilling those needs. Don’t try to sell the organization something that they don’t want or need just because you can do it. You’ll never be asked back again.
The primary objective of a resume is to get an interview. An excellent resume motivates the hiring manager to talk with you further about your experiences and how to translate those results to his or her organization.
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