6 Blunders that Push Your Resume to the “Don’t Call” List

 

Many candidates unintentionally push their resume into the “don’t call” pile with several common errors. Many of these blunders are based on outdated thinking while others develop out of a desire to take advantage of that one moment when the hiring manager is screening your resume. Take a few moments and review your resume to make sure these blunders aren’t pushing your resume to the wrong pile!

1. Including Everything

Less is more with effective resumes. Don’t try to cram in all your work history or every keyword that comes to mind. Trying to include everything will only sabotage your resume by essentially hiding your good points under the weight of too much information. Most hiring managers only skim resumes, and if you have created an information overload the screening process is very likely to stop right there.

Change your thinking about your resume to create an effective hiring tool. Good resumes capture the reader’s attention while enticing them to learn more about you. Regurgitating your entire work history onto the page is not going to achieve that aim for you. Limit your work history to the last 10 to 15 years to be most effective.

2. Poor Organization

Including everything is indeed a form of poor organization. However, limiting the work history to the last 15 years may not be sufficient to reduce the amount of verbiage. Aim for a concise and succinct description of your jobs. Include no more than 5 lines in each description. Make the most of the prime real estate on your resume by including brief company descriptions as well. Doing so provides a context for your experience and accomplishments while saving space. Separate out accomplishments by highlighting a few well-chosen achievements in bullets.

3. Grouping All Jobs Together

You may have a great progression of positions with increasing responsibility at a particular company. In order to get the most out of these experiences, separate out each position with its own job description and achievements listed. You limit the effectiveness of your resume by putting all positions with the same company together. Not only is your clear progression blurred, but the reader may also be confused as to exactly what your contributions were. Unclear descriptions of past contributions do nothing in helping potential employers envision you as a successful member of their team.

4. Functional Format

Many job seekers choose a functional format that can also be confusing to the reader. A functional format does not present a clear progression of your career and requires the reader to invest more time in trying to determine what experiences match with each company. Although you want the reader to spend more time reading your resume, the functional format is not a productive way to achieve that goal. Using a reverse chronological format provides a quick snapshot of your history, and with careful presentation will entice the reader to keep reading and call you to learn more.

5. Cluttered Presentation

Many of these points address the issue of clutter in your resume. Additional factors to consider in presenting a clean appearance in your resume include how to manage the dates of employment. As long as you have a steady progression in your work history, including only the years of employment is the cleanest presentation. However, if you have had a number of short-term positions, including the month and year may help illustrate the actual length of employment.

Another common example of clutter on the resume is attempting to include every keyword you can associate with your profession. Be selective in your choice of keywords, using only those that clearly demonstrate your strengths.

Finally, including too much information about professional development experiences can work against you. Identify those training experiences that set you apart from the competition and include only those. Dates are typically not necessary for professional development activities, particularly for annual trainings.

6. Unprofessionalism

You must remember that you are being evaluated in every single contact you make with a potential employer. Personal email addresses such as sexygirl@ or lazyguy@ should never be used in your job search. Email accounts can be set up for free at many sites on the web. Setting up a new email account dedicated to your job search is a great idea to help you stay organized as well. An appropriate email address can be as simple as YourName@ and conveys a much more professional image.

Other unprofessional tactics include talking on the phone with prospective employers while at your current job or with dogs and kids in the background. Avoid these traps that could easily land your resume in the “don’t call” pile.

Making the most of your resume is the best tool for getting a call from the hiring manager. The resume is a carefully crafted calling card and with the right balance of information and presentation can spur the hiring manager to the action you desire. Make smart choices about what to include and how to present information in an effective way to gain the response you want. A strategic review and re-vamping of your resume may be just what you need to prompt that call. You have the power to make sure your resume is in the “Must Call” pile!

6 Resume Details that Help You Land More Interviews

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Analyst, New York, NY
Data Specialist, Waltham, MA
Investment Banking Associate, San Francisco, CA
Litigation Secretary, Denver, CO
Director of Finance, Los Angeles, CA

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“It’s all in the details.” This old adage also applies to your resume. Getting the details right will land you that interview! The resume is your first impression. Make sure you send the right message by getting the details across in a powerful presentation.

1. Remember the Purpose of the Resume

A resume is designed to land an interview. You have to do the rest of the work in the interview to get the job. Remembering this primary purpose of the resume can help you remain focused on only those details of your work history that will compel the hiring manager to call you for the interview. Think of the resume as a pitch to the hiring manager. Each section has to speak to the needs of the company and serves a definite purpose in selling that message.

2. Omit Irrelevant Information

Be certain to include all necessary details about your work experience, but don’t fall into the trap of including accomplishments from early in your career because you have a sentimental attachment to those achievements. Another old-school approach is including an objective on the resume. An objective is considered irrelevant because it addresses your needs rather than those of the potential employer.

3. Stand Out From the Crowd – In the Right Way

If creating your own resume, avoid using any of the templates available in your word processing program. Templates create the same kind of document that the hiring manager is used to seeing from many other candidates. To counteract this effect, many are tempted to use fancy fonts, colors, and pictures. Resist that temptation! These superficial approaches will not represent the substance you bring to the position (which is what actually sets you apart from the crowd). Emphasizing your accomplishments is the way you want to stand out from other applicants.

4. Toot Your Own Horn

Though you may have a hard time playing up your accomplishments, the resume is not the place to be humble. Be specific about every achievement you bring to the table. These achievements are what will set you apart from the crowd. Details speak to your strengths and also prevent you from embellishing beyond your actual accomplishments. Unique achievements tell the hiring manager why they need to call you for an interview!

5. Go Beyond the Job Description

The job descriptions for most positions share many of the same responsibilities. Every banker, financial analyst, and sales professional has a similar base of duties. Including “other duties as assigned” to highlight your willingness to go the extra mile is not going to set you apart from other candidates. Detail exactly what those other duties are as long as they strengthen your position in the resume. If the additional duties are mundane, you achieve a greater effect by describing yourself as a “motivated team player” in the professional summary of your resume. If the duties are innovative and achieved strong results, then include those details in your accomplishments.

6. Be Specific

Specific details create a picture of your past successes for the hiring manager. Clarity in your resume helps the reader see you in the role of the new position. For example:

Too General:

Seeking a position as a project manager where I could lead effective teams for great results.

Specific & Powerful:

Experienced project manager with diverse leadership skills ranging from green initiatives with LEED compliance to streamlining operations, growing profits, and increasing productivity.

Remember that the details of your resume need to answer the hiring manager’s question of “Why you?” Don’t leave any questions in the reader’s mind that you are uniquely qualified to solve the company’s problems and create success. Get that interview with the right details in your resume!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

What to Include on Your Resume

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Many job seekers feel the need to present a broad view of skills in order to qualify for a variety of positions and want to add in everything but the kitchen sink!  Discerning what to include and what to exclude can be a difficult task.  Don’t despair — here are some points to help:

Don’t Try to Include Too Much Information

Most hiring managers currently aren’t interested in a resume that goes back more than 15 years. In fact, including a lot of significant accomplishments from early in your career could backfire by inadvertently emphasizing the lack of recent accolades. Start by paring down to the essentials.

Each section in a resume has to reinforce your strengths and serve multiple purposes because of limited space. Many readers will not continue because of the time required to sort through the resume.

Package the Resume with Effective Position Titles

Be as specific as possible and consider changing the title as needed to fit the current job search.  With a well-rounded resume you probably won’t need to create an entirely separate resume for each application.  In addition, the broad range of skills can also make you a more valuable candidate.

Compare these two opening titles:  Software Developer vs. IT Professional.

There are pros and cons to the use of each type of title. The more specific title of Software Developer may unintentionally limit your search. However, greater specificity can also give you a leg up on the competition because it helps the hiring manager see exactly what opening your qualifications fit.  The more general title of IT Professional may help you in being considered for a number of positions, although you may stand out less from the competition. If you are applying to a broad range of positions and feel you won’t be able to modify the title for each position, you may be better off using the more general title.

Do Include a Brief Company Description

A brief company description provides a context to help the reader understand your accomplishments and it saves valuable real estate on the resume since you only state it once. Look at the 2 examples below to see the difference between a traditional approach and a powerful one.

Logistics Manager 2010 – Present
ABC Successful Company, New York

Duties included planning daily schedules to achieve production goals. Supervised plant personnel in US and Mexico to maintain on-time delivery.  Balanced budget. Trained and supervised office, plant, and management positions. Responsible for P&L oversight, analysis, and reporting. Increased sales and reduced costs. Expanded business.

ABC SUCCESSFUL COMPANY, New York, New York – 2010 to Present
Global multi-million dollar sprocket manufacturer, applying lean manufacturing principles in 100 factories throughout North and South America.

Logistics Manager
Orchestrate all aspects of daily schedules, remotely managing 13 sites through direct supervision of plant managers. Analyze production to reach weekly targets and maintain budget and delivery schedules. Command full P&L oversight, analysis, and reporting. Utilize participative management techniques to facilitate communication and shared ownership, while developing staff to potential.

How you choose to package your experience and skills is just as critical as your talent and expertise. If a hiring manager is unable to get excited when reading the resume, you are unlikely to get called for the interview. You have a lot of control over how the reader will react to your resume. Make your achievements shine by effectively organizing your resume and you are likely to be preparing for an interview! Good luck and stay positive!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Language Secrets for a Successful Job Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Technology Research Analyst, SF Bay Area, CA
Consultant, New York, NY
Junior Trader, Chicago, IL
Junior Consultant, Boston, MA
M&A Analyst, Los Angeles, CA

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On the job circuit, it is important to be yourself and clearly express your experience and ability in a way that will resonate with recruiters.  Sincerity is a critical component of being authentic, however you may need to massage your language to make sure the hiring manager is listening.  Of course you don’t want to deceive a potential employer with a trumped-up version of yourself.  That is very similar to padding your resume – a definite no-no in the world of successful job seekers. What you must do to ensure a receptive audience is to say all the right things – in the right way.

1.  Use the Language of Results.

Most CEOs are interested in how your behavior and enthusiasm can help the company move toward specific goals and objectives. An effective strategy includes researching the company for new initiatives, pet projects, or even community involvement and aligning your key work experiences with the activities receiving corporate attention.  Critical information will provide the frame for presenting your skills to the employer. Highlight strengths and experiences that parallel the business intelligence gathered in your research efforts.

Tailor your presentation to garner extra attention from a hiring manager.  Interest may be generated from shared efforts on a community project, HR committee work on social events (translates to improved morale in the language of the CEO), or attending city council meetings on zoning issues (the Division Manager will see you as a trusted representative of the company, as well as a Subject Matter Expert on community relations and regulations).

2.  Verbalize How You Get Things Done.

Gather several sample job descriptions for plum positions and study them for skill areas emphasized.  Sure, every position will share some basic skills that form the core of that profession, but each company has unique expectations within a specific corporate culture.  Compare the job descriptions with your personal work history, not just in terms of basic qualifications, but also in terms of added-value you bring to the table from your personality, extensive contacts, or significant accomplishments. Help the hiring manager understand how you will enhance the team’s functioning, levels of productivity, or bottom line when you deliver your significant skill set.

3.  Listen for Clues.

Many companies share an idiosyncratic language that reflects the corporate mission. Listen to how individuals talk and write.  By identifying trends, such as “do you see what I’m talking about” or “I hear what you’re saying”, you have tapped into clues about how individuals understand the world around them.  Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests mirroring the language of those around you helps to create a bond of shared vision and direction. You will make a solid connection.

4.  Utilize Action Words.

Using powerful language conveys your individual influence and authority. It is not necessary to be in a position of authority to communicate that type of strength to others. When job-seeking, you may feel as though you are an underdog in interactions, but this is the time to step up your game and project your confidence and competence. Action words are a great way to do so. Your list of accomplishments may include “projects executed”, “costs contained”, or “profits accelerated”.

5.  Express Professional Passion.

Passion ignites interest. Define your professional passion by listing all the career-related activities that excite you. Don’t be afraid to express those professional passions by talking about what energizes you. Enthusiasm is contagious and most employers are drawn to candidates who are energized about the profession, their company, or the mere possibility of making a well-defined contribution. Whether you are a dreamer or a doer, you have specific skills to offer – get excited and don’t be shy about sharing.

6.  Incorporate Nonverbal Messages.

Remember the power of body language in addition to all other types of communication. Pay attention to your nonverbal messages as well as those of the hiring manager. In any face-to-face interactions, use the basics of good eye contact, a firm handshake, and an open stance.  If the body language of the other person doesn’t seem as open, try engaging him/her in conversation that is appropriately upbeat. If you are in the office, pay attention to objects on the desk for clues to possible conversation starters – a favorite sports team or plaque of recognition. Over the phone or email, introduce your interest in a special corporate project.

Put these secrets to work and you will be communicating with prospective employers at many different levels. Being able to effectively match the hiring manager’s communication style in multiple ways maximizes a sense of connection and shared vision. Speaking the same language helps the prospective employer see you as part of the team, getting you a few steps closer to landing that plum position!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!