Over the years I have seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of resumes and I continue to review resumes every day. Based on this experience, I can state that many applicants do nothing to help themselves gain employment. In fact, in many cases, it did the exact opposite! The amazing thing is that the reasons why their resumes did not help were completely preventable!
7 Things You Should Not Do On a Resume
- Make your contact information hard to find. Your contact information, including name, address, phone and email, must be front and center on page 1. Only list a phone number and email address that you want potential employers to use. Ensure that there is the ability to leave voice mail and check your spam folders. A recruiter will rarely call back twice!
- Not correct spelling mistakes. Not a day goes by when I don’t receive a resume with a spelling mistake on it, and some of these are from Vice Presidents! Studies show that spelling mistakes could automatically eliminate you from consideration. “Fore and four”, “two and too” and “your and you’re” are not interchangeable. Spell checkers however will not catch these types of errors so you must find them the old fashioned way with proof reading.
- Make it longer than 2 pages. Managers and recruiters are extremely busy people, and the task of reading resumes is a necessary evil on their road to success. As such, no matter what, the length of your resume must not exceed two pages. I don’t need the annual report from every company that you worked for. I just need to know your responsibilities, your achievements, and the skills you developed while holding this position. If your resume is longer than 2 pages, edit it. Anything longer is not being read anyways, so what’s the point?
- Not leading with your best. The main headings of your resume should be: Employment History, Education, Other Skills and Activities. If your education is your best, lead with it, but if your employment history is your greatest asset, put it first. In my opinion, your future career goals are to be discussed in an interview, not listed as the lead on your resume. Besides, for a recruiter, after reading resumes for hours, everyone’s career goals start to sound the same!
- Submitting obscure file formats. As most resumes are submitted by email, you must create and submit it using a file format that the employer can read. Sometimes this is specified in the job ad itself. If not, then use Microsoft Word .doc or Adobe .pdf format. If this is not possible, then use rich text .rtf format. Virtually every word processing program can create and read this file format.
- Make it hard to read. Too many fancy fonts, not leaving any white space in the margins, or adding animation to be funny do nothing to enhance your resume. All it does is distract the reader from the information they are trying to assess.
- Address it to the wrong person. There is no excuse for this! Yesterday I received a resume addressed to “Sunsan”. Addressing your resume to the wrong person or misspelling the company or contact name is guaranteed to have your resume filed in the round filing cabinet otherwise known as the garbage can!
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