Photo: The Devil Wears Prada
In today’s weak job market, it’s more important than ever to make your resume stand out.Unfortunately, even small mistakes will quickly put your resume in the “no” pile. So we went straight to the source, and spoke with a few HR directors and executives about what NOT to do.
“I’ve seen some really surprising mistakes,” says Kathy Simmons, CEO of Netshare, a career services company for senior executives. “My favourite is a CFO whose resume said he has ‘extensive experience in pubic [sic.] financing.'”
Although it might get a good laugh out of the person reviewing your resume, a simple typo could be enough to send your application to the recycling bin.
“Employers are bombarded by thousands of resumes,” she says, “and they’re looking for a way to exclude yours.”
Spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes tell employers that you don't pay attention to details.
Simply running a spell checker over your resume isn't enough. You could end up with a sentence like this: 'Please find the attached resume that highlights all my kills.'
In a Robert Half International survey, 76 per cent of executives said that one or two typos in a resume are enough to nix an applicant's chances.
'Reading your resume out loud line by line makes it easier to catch mistakes,' says Dawn Fay, a district president at Robert Half International. 'It only takes a few minutes but it could make a huge difference.'
'When I see a photo on a resume I usually remove it,' says Holly Paul, PricewaterHouseCoopers' National Recruiting Leader. 'Race, ethnicity, and age should not be taken into account and including a photo can make that harder for someone reviewing your application.'
Although most applications are now sent online, following up with a printed resume on coloured paper is rarely a good idea.
coloured paper can make it difficult to read the text and is simply irritating, say HR executives. Stick with white or maybe even cream to be safe.
Including all your job experiences and additional details with hopes that something will stick is not an effective strategy, says Simmons of Netshare. 'Not tailoring your resume to fit the position you're applying for tells the employer you're lazy and it makes it harder for them to figure out where to place you.'
Submitting a two-page resume is not necessarily a deal breaker, however, if you're a senior-level executive, says Simmons.
You may think you're taking the initiative by including a list of references without being asked for it, but that's not how some recruiters see it.
'Some people may be OK with it, but automatically providing references means you risk providing contacts who may not be the right fit or are not prepared to tailor their responses to your interview,' says Simmons.
Several executives agreed that informing your reader that you have have references is redundant and silly.
'Of course you have references. And what are you going to say if someone asks for them, 'no'?' says Simmons.
Adjectives like innovative, motivated and dynamic have been used so often that they've lost their impact.
Steer clear of these words whenever possible and focus on quantifying your contributions instead, said several executives.
For more words to avoid, check out this list from LinkedIn.
'Unless it is a hobby or activity that complements the position, there's really no reason to include what you do on your spare time,' says Simmons. 'Charities that you support or a membership in a professional association are a better fit.'
Other executives said they mainly focus on the applicant's work history or skills, so think twice before listing your interests.
Breaking up your sentences with bullet points makes it easier for readers to scan your resume. But keep it short. 'Stick to 3 to 5 bullets per job and try not to exceed 5 sentences per bullet,' says Fay at Robert Half.
Using a humorous email address full of nouns and adjectives might be fine for your personal correspondence, but not for a job application.
'For a professional email address, just use your name,' says Paul of PricewaterHouseCoopers.
Don't forget to include a phone number and current address. 'You'd be surprised, but sometimes even something as simple as a phone number gets overlooked,' says Paul.
Whether you're sending it via email or snail mail, make sure you address your resume to the right company.
'It all comes down to how much care you take when replying to a job ad,' says Simmons. 'Mistakes happen but it's easier for an employer to just set your resume aside.'
Simply listing your responsibilities without illustrating how you have made a difference at a company won't cut it.
'I'm particularly surprised by senior executives who just list their positions and responsibilities without quantifying their accomplishments,' says Paul. 'If you want attention, explain how you brought value to a company. Don't just tell me that you did your job.'
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