En Route: A Career Blog

Three Things to Avoid on a Resume

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: ,
POSTED: September 10, 2013 at 9:26 am

 

Came across an interesting article, from last year, that was posted on workingforwonka.com. The writer discusses three resume writing trends that are keeping candidates from winning interviews. As a hiring manager, I’ve seen these types of resumes and I wasn’t impressed by the applicants.

Someone is giving these individuals very bad resume advice.

If you want your resume to get noticed, avoid these mistakes.

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Don’t List Anything That Isn’t Useful to the Company

The article states that many recent college grads are boasting about their excellent penmanship on their resumes.

You may be scratching your head at this point, especially because you’re reading this post online. That’s right, we use computers these days, and I can’t think of many jobs that would value excellent penmanship over tech savvy and the applicant’s ability to make the company money or save it money. It’s not clear whether college grads are getting this advice from their schools or not. However, I can unequivocally state that no hiring manager is swayed by penmanship.

The same is true for awards that aren’t relevant to the job search. I’ve seen far too many resumes from recent grads and experienced professionals that include lists of awards won in high school and college. These wouldn’t be bad if they had something to do with business – improving a company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, most of these are about being named prom queen/king, winning spelling bees or something that has nothing to do with a job search.

Several years ago I worked with a woman on her resume. She had an impeccable work and academic history. She was at the executive level and was looking for a new position with greater responsibility. Everything went well until she told me she wanted to include her college cheering experience on her resume. I advised against this because it had nothing to do with the job she was seeking. What’s more, it diminished her professionalism. She wouldn’t hear of it and insisted on this information being included. The results weren’t good. She wasn’t invited to interview at the top firms she’d targeted.

Lesson learned: If the award or skill isn’t related in some manner to the position you’re seeking, leave it off your resume.

Don’t Deter the Hiring Manager with Poor Formatting

The reason most resumes have bulleted sections is because they’re easier to read. Whenever I get a resume that’s paragraph after paragraph of long, uninterrupted text, I move on. I don’t want to read a novel. I want a resume – a document that’s pared down to the essentials – what you can do for my company – how you can make us succeed.

Also, you need to use clear language, not 15 adjectives to say what you mean. Rather than writing, ‘Astute, detail-oriented, dependable, honest, skilled accounting professional…’, you should write, ‘Accountant with comprehensive experience in AP/AR, payroll, reconciliations, taxes.’ Get to the point of what you know and can do. If you don’t, then I’m guessing you don’t have any skills.

Don’t Focus Exclusively on School

If you’re a seasoned professional with three or more years of experience, don’t put your education first. Yes, it’s wonderful you graduated from an Ivy League school. However, I still need to know how you performed in your last position(s).

As far as new grads are concerned, you want to bolster your education with internships and summer jobs. Hiring managers expect that all applicants have an undergraduate degree – at the very least. What they need to know is have you been able to apply what you learned to a job?

If not, you won’t be called in for an interview.

Remember: A resume needs to tell a hiring manager, within seven seconds or less, how well you fit the position requirements. That’s its sole purpose. Those candidates who clearly state what they know and can do are the ones who are in the running for the job.

 

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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