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Resume making the cut?

Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2007

Help your resume sidestep the shredder by avoiding common mistakes.

Writing a resume isn't exactly a speedy process. First there's the brainstorming. Then, you have to write - and rewrite, and rewrite - your educational and work histories until your resume perfectly boasts your background. Plus, there's all that proofreading.

Even though your resume took you hours to write, hiring managers will typically spend less than one minute reviewing it. If your resume has any glaring errors, however, employers will waste no time deleting it.

To ensure your resume gets proper attention, avoid these 10 all-too-common blunders:

1. Not bothering with a cover letter.

Cover letters are so important to the application process that many hiring managers automatically reject resume that arrive without them. Make the most of your cover letter by expanding on a few of your qualifications, explaining any gaps in employment or providing other information that will entice the employer to read your resume.

2. Giving your resume format a little "flair."

Unusual fonts or fluorescent pink paper will certainly make your resume stand out - in a bad way. Keep your resume looking professional by sticking with standard white or cream-colored paper, black type and a common font like Arial or Times New Roman.

3. Going long.

Since your high school job scooping ice cream probably isn't relevant to your career anymore, it shouldn't be included on your resume. Your resume shouldn't be longer than two pages, so only include your most recent and relevant work history.

4. Focusing on duties, not accomplishments.

Instead of writing a list of job duties on your resume, demonstrate how each duty contributed to your company's bottom line. For example, anyone can plan the company fund-raiser, but if you note that your fund-raiser brought in 50 percent more money than the previous year's event, the hiring manager will be take notice.

5. Having a selfish objective.

Employers are trying to determine whether you're a good fit for their organizations, so everything on your resume should point to your experience. A summary of qualifications that conveniently displays your accomplishments and background is far more effective than a generic objective statement ("To gain experience in ...").

6. Being too generic.

Always customize your resume and cover letter for each job and employer to which you apply. This way, you can tailor your materials to show how you will be a perfect fit for the position.

7. Guesstimating your dates and titles.

With the proliferation of background checks, any "upgrades" you give your titles or stretching of employment dates to cover gaps will likely get caught - and eliminate you from consideration.

8. Tell everyone why you left.

Never put anything negative on your resume. If you left the position because of a layoff or you were fired, bring it up only if asked.

9. Include too much personal information.

It's fine if you enjoy fishing on Sunday afternoons, but unless your hobby relates to your career, it doesn't belong on your resume. The same goes for your height, weight, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or any other facts that could potentially be used against you.

10. Assume spell-check is good enough.

Spell-checkers can pick up many typos - but they won't catch everything (manger vs. manager, for example). Always proofread your resume several times, and ask a friend to give it a final review.



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