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 Many of these blunders are based on outdated thinking while others develop out of a desire to take advantage of that one moment when the hiring manager is screening your resume.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!

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Tech-Savvy Resume Strategies

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Increase the effectiveness of your resume through the productive use of technology. While being tech-savvy with your resume definitely includes posting to job websites, successful job candidates go far beyond the basics. Knowledge of leading edge uses of technology, in addition to basic Internet posting procedures, will help set your resume apart from the competition!

Resume Submission

Most job applicants submit resumes electronically by sending an email or posting to corporate or job search websites. In doing so, you still want to be certain that your resume is appropriately formatted, has a professional appearance, and is appealing to the reader.

When attaching your resume to an email, you typically want to save it as a Word document, which will preserve the formatting and professional appearance. If posting to a job search site, it may be necessary to save the resume in a plain text format. Though this file type will eliminate most of the formatting, it will enable your document to retain its basic professional appearance online.

Scannable Resumes

Many companies use computers or scanners to input large numbers of resumes and selectively screen for industry specific keywords. It is critical in these cases to be certain that your resume is current in terms of how your job skills and work experiences are described. If you are uncertain about the keywords in your resume, compare your resume with the latest job descriptions to be certain your resume contains the right language to catch the attention of both human eyes and computer scanners.

Electronic resumes or e-versions are typically formatted for computer scanners instead of human eyes. This electronic resume format is specially designed to be successfully scanned by computers. The typical formatting that makes a resume appealing to the human eye may create obstacles that cause a computer scanner to reject your documents. It is often best to submit both Word and scannable versions to increase your likelihood of a successful submission.

Personal Websites

Regardless of how sophisticated or plain your website may be, it can still be a positive resource for you to use during your job search. The key is to remember that a personal website needs to be professional when included in your job search. Be sure to edit any unprofessional photos or offhand postings before directing a potential employer to your site. When using your website as part of your job search, be cautious about including your entire resume. You don’t want to make yourself vulnerable to identity theft by posting your entire work history and personal address online. This can also be risky if you are currently employed and trying to keep your job search quiet around the office.

A personal website can become an asset in your job search if you post relevant articles you have written or outline special projects, such as software you developed or community projects in which you have been involved. Highlighting any experience as a Board member or a key organizer demonstrates your leadership abilities.

Online/Electronic Portfolios

Whether you have your own website or not, you can use the power of technology to showcase work samples using video, PowerPoint presentations, or white papers. Although you don’t want to include excessive links in your resume, you can organize a portfolio of key work products to add important details that your resume alone cannot convey.

For an online portfolio to add critical value to your application, include a slide show of specific accomplishments, such as photos of job sites, video snippets of presentations, or even statistics of outstanding achievements that go beyond the basics in your resume and you can add critical value to your application. Another alternative is to copy all your materials onto a CD and carry it along to present during the interview or leave for the hiring manager to review.

Online Networking

Professional associations often include discussion boards and may have job posting sites as well. Explore the sites of all professional organizations with which you are associated or may be interested in joining to determine what kind of networking opportunities may be available. In addition to message boards and online forums at professional organization websites, you may also investigate sites that include professional networking as part of their mission.

Even though thinking outside the box has become a trite phrase, the concept still carries value. If you shift your thinking away from the traditional resume format, you are likely to set yourself apart from the competition and create opportunities for yourself. Brainstorm a few tech-savvy strategies to gain results from 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!

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Steal the Spotlight with the Right Resume Format

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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In this tough economy, employers can expect to weed through literally hundreds of submissions for a single job posting. That’s why job seekers cannot expect a hiring manager to read every word of each resume he or she receives. There simply are not enough hours in the day to make that possible, since whittling down an applicant pool is a time-consuming task.

If an employer is only able to spend 30 seconds on your resume, you need to make sure the most important information is obvious. Otherwise, your resume will likely wind up in the rejection pile along with candidates who may not be as qualified as you are.

It’s tempting to believe that attracting an employer’s attention can be achieved by opting for the most flashy resume possible. This often backfires, as job seekers tend to go overboard with visual bells and whistles when creating their own resumes. Utilizing too many options every word processing program offers for fonts, colors, and graphic elements can create more of a distraction than a solid presentation of your skills.

We already know that the audience being targeted is comprised of harried hiring managers reading a huge pile of resumes. Without realizing it, well-meaning job seekers who create multi-colored, crammed “works of art” are only hurting the eyes of important people who are able to give them a job!

The best format choice is simple, polished, professional – and most importantly, easy to read. If your resume contains any of the five features below, it’s time to consider a redesign:

1. Lack of White Space

Are your margins pushed to the absolute max? Are you using 8-point font? A quest to squeeze in as much content as possible comes at a steep price. While it may look fine to you, most readers will find they need to keep a magnifying glass handy in order to read small print with ease. If your resume is too dense with text, you can bet the reader is just not going to make the extra effort to read through it.

It is better to be more concise in your wording — or even sacrifice some content altogether. That way, you can hook an employer into reading some of what you did rather than overwhelming him or her with too much information that will not get read at all. Besides, you will have ample opportunities to expand upon your vast experience during an interview.

2. Colors

While some professions call for a more artistic flair on a resume, most do not. There’s a big difference between a graphic designer and a corporate banker trying to pull off using a red page border. Rather than risk having your resume look amateurish with a rainbow motif, it’s advisable to stick with basic black or gray tones.

3. Photos, Graphics & Logos

A resume is not the appropriate place for a photo, graphic, or logo for a variety of reasons. Strictly speaking about formatting, it’s a bad idea. Such items will increase the file size of your resume, make it more likely to get snagged by a spam filter, and create an inconvenient and time-consuming downloading process.

4. Too Many Bullets

Bullets are a great formatting device to create emphasis, but some job seekers like bullets so much they bullet practically everything. If you bullet everything, the emphasis is lost because the text drowns in a sea of bullets. For example, if you have a job description formatted as a long list of bullets, it will be hard for the reader to identify what’s important. Bullets should be used to draw attention to your achievements, but not to describe basic job duties. That way, if an employer does nothing more than skim your resume, he’ll notice the most impressive accomplishments first.

5. Fancy Fonts

The only characteristic that makes a font best for a resume is that it is easy to read. Sticking to one typeface will also spare the reader from eye strain.

Less is often more where resumes are concerned. Let your qualifications shine by allowing them to be your resume’s centerpiece, and you will set yourself apart from your competition.

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!

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