7 Things You Should Not Do On A Resume!

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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

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

To download a free copy of our white paper How To Write An Effective B2B Sales Resume, visit our Sales Download Centre.  While you’re there, be sure to download our Free Job Search Tracking Sheet!

Aim Higher!

Susan A. Enns, B2B Sales Connections
www.b2bsalesconnections.com, www.linkedin.com/in/susanenns, or www.twitter.com/SusanEnns

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21 thoughts on “7 Things You Should Not Do On A Resume!

  1. Very good advice, thanks.

    There is another very good example of rule #2 at the end of rule #6. “Asses” are probably not a desirable subject matter for resumes, but “assess” should be ok.

  2. Thanks for the insight into writing a power resume. I did follow most of these when I updated my resume recently for job hunt in Melbourne. What I find intriguing is that there is no global standard for resume writing. I updated mine based on US resume guidelines (referred gazillion sites) and apparently its not the same way that recruiters are expecting it in Australia. Is it a norm that we have to update our resume for every job that we apply or do we have one resume for every job in the particular functional area you are looking for and then write a cover letter which detials on the specifics for the job? Please check point 7 from the link http://www.macrorecruitment.com.au/index.php?category=2&section=3&article=21. Inspite of this in Australia its more about cover letters and almost nothing much about resume – may be its again because of the fact that there is no global standards and the consultants are tired seeing the plethora of different styles and fonts and functions on every minute of every day. And I read from a US recruitment consultant’s review, cover letters are over rated and he was once hired keep the resume and trash the cover letters once an application is recieved – not sure if its a joke or he was serious.

  3. Very interesting, Tobby. Thanks for sharing.

    I have some definite views on cover letters that I have written about in the white paper referenced in the blog post above.

    The studies I have read show that cover letters should be always be included , however the format is important. We accept our resumes via email and it is rare that I will open 2 files from the same email. Therefore I prefer the cover letter included in the body of email, or included in the resume file itself. More details are in the white paper.

    The lesson your comments gives is that you should consider cultural preferences when applying for a position internationally. For example, when I receive a resume from abroad submitted for a Canadian position, it often includes a picture of the applicant. This is highly unusual here in Canada.

    Thanks again, Tobby. Good luck to you!

  4. Once again thanks, Susan. Now I am getting a grip of what actually goes on inside a recruitment consultant’s mind and ’round filing cabinet’. 🙂 I have two questions, if I may ask.

    1. Now that I know we should write appropriate cover letters for every job and the cover letters gets transhed once read, its imperative we update our resume for every job application too. So does this mean, we should take “more” time in applying for “less” jobs? I was told, quantity matters – whats your take on this? (Assuming I still meet 60%-80% of key requirements for the position for many of the available vacancies)

    2. Many job adverts comes with no names attached. How should we address the cover letters for this kind of situation? (I usually start with just a “Hi”)

    Thanks once again for your time and wishes for my job hunt.

  5. Hi Tobby,

    Some believe that you should customize your resume for every application. If you write the resume properly, I believe that you only need to customize it per job function. i.e. your sales resume would be different than your sales management resume, which would be different than your marketing position resume.

    In terms of addressing your cover letter when you do not have a name, the key is to remain gender neutral. It really irks me when I receive a cover letter that says only “Dear Sir”.

    Only using “hi” may be a little too casual. You could use “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear ABC Company Recruiter”. If you are only using the email as your cover letter (as opposed to a formal cover letter in a file) , you can just not use a greeting and just start with the body of the letter.

    Thanks again for the feedback. I hope this helps!

  6. Thought of dropping by again to clear something on writing the power resume. Hope you dont mind.

    How important is “career objective” in a resume? As usual there are proponents for both school of thought – some saying you have to write a short description of what you did or what you intend to do in contributing once you are hired for the position and others say, you just write the title for which you are applying.

    As someone who have seen multitude of resumes, what you reckon should ideally be written against the “career objective” title? Is it really significant? I mean, do recruitment consultants (or even employers) really bother about what they see against the career objective when they make a decision?

  7. As you say, there are proponents to both sides. I did not include such a section on my personal resume in the past, nor do I even read them on the resumes I review.

    I believe your future career goals are to be discussed in an interview, not on your resume. Besides, for a recruiter, after reading resumes for hours, everyone’s career goals start to sound the same! Doesn’t everyone want “to be challenged and to contribute to a growing company”?

    I hope this helps, Tobby. Good luck!

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