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12 Resume Blunders

  1. A BLAND OR GENERIC OBJECTIVE: If your objective could be applied to a marketing resume as easily as a resume for an accounting position, then your objective says nothing and will get you nowhere. An objective is NOT some required paragraph at the top of the page that is an exercise in 5 lines of job speak. Itís an actual and real description of your skills as theyíre related to who you are and what you want. It should vary with the type of job for which you are applying.

  2. BLAND JOB DETAILS: ďResponsibilities included overseeing construction of 4 Hilton Hotels in Tri-City Metro Area, each 50 floors in height.Ē Yeah? So what? That doesnít say if they went up on schedule or if you brought the projects in under budget. It doesnít say if you took all four from site work up or if the guy handling two of the four hotels was fired and you were promoted to overseeing all four. Differentiate yourself from the others coming in to interview. If you donít tell the hiring company how you will be an asset to them, how will they know?

  3. ANOTHER JOB, ANOTHER PARAGRAPH: Donít keep adding on to your resume job after job, year after year. By the time youíre in your 40s, you need to have weeded out some of the earlier stuff. You donít need all the college activities, just your degree. You donít need ALL 5 bullets for each of your first two jobs.

  4. REFERENCES: Shouldnít be listed on your resume. ďReferences available on requestĒ is the proper phrase. You present them separately when theyíre requested. This isnít about protocol. This is about protecting your references so they arenít called until you and the company are serious about each other.

  5. ITíS NOT A STORY!: Donít - whatever you do, DONíT - write your resume in the third person.

  6. SKIP THE PERSONAL INFO: You might think your weekend baseball coaching or your church choir participation shows youíre an interesting and well-rounded person, but theyíre irrelevent. If the interviewer wants to know who you are as a person, aside from the job interview and your qualifications, heíll ask.

  7. DEGREE DATE: No matter how old you are, donít leave the date of when you were graduated off your resume. It looks like youíre hiding something (well, you are, arenít you?), and then everyone counts the years backwards and tries to figure out how old you are. Sometimes you can be ruled out - just for leaving the date off. If youíre trying to hide your age by not stating the date, what else might you not be forthcoming about?

  8. SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK: Spell checking visually by you AND someone else, any fewer than three times, isnít enough. And donít forget to check your punctuation.

  9. GETTING YOUR RESUME OUT THERE - part one: Donít use one of those resume blaster things. Half those sites arenít even valid. You donít know how it will come out on the other end. You donít even know where itís going or if the landing targets are employment related. I experimented with one for the heck of it. Itís bad form and justÖ.NOT the way to find your perfect job. Finding your perfect job takes focus, attention, detail, individuality, tailoring, specifics. Resume blasting is about as far from that as you can get.

  10. GETTING YOUR RESUME OUT THERE - part two:If itís an ad, you probably have instructions as to how to send it. If email, is your only option, cut and paste your resume into the form, AND attach it. You never know what it can look like on the other end because of the variety of settings available to each user. Quite frankly, I donít recommend emailing it at all, because it usually just goes into cyber space, and then itís all about the hiring company - but sometimes that IS the only choice youíre given. Emailing your resume takes any option for further participation right out of your hands, because often thereís not even a name given for a follow up contact. Youíve no other option than to wait and wonder (and your resume is just going to HR anyway).

  11. GETTING YOUR RESUME OUT THERE - part three: If the company name is provided, call and ask if they prefer email, fax, or snail mail. I know a recruiter who never even opened his email. Because he was listed in The Kennedy Guide to Executive Recruiters, he received so many resumes emailed to him cold (so NOT pro-active) that he just did a mass delete every morning. Candidates contacted for a specific search were requested to snail mail their resume to him. How about that? Iíll bet less than 10% of those who emailed their resumes even bothered to follow up to see if it was received (this isnít a numbers game).

  12. RESUME VISUALS: Ivory paper. Black ink. Individual pages. No plastic, 7th grade, science report cover with the plastic slider or metal push down tabs. Your name centered at the top, not on a cover page that says ďIntroducing Clifton Lewis Montgomery IIIĒ. No exceptions. Your resume is a professional document, not a school book report or an art project. Until every resume is done this way, yours will still stand out in the crowd.

You are the product, and your resume is the marketing piece. To find your perfect job you must differentiate yourself from the other people who will be interviewed.

Your resume must be specific, individualized, easy to skim so it invites a closer reading, and focused on the differences youíve made with your previous companies, as well as the accomplishments youíve achieved with - and for - them. This tells the hiring company what you can do for them - and it IS about the hiring company, not you.

Of course this assumes you meet the requirements for the job - otherwise it doesnít matter how good your resume is! The resume is what gets you in the door. If your resume is poorly written, looks sloppy, is difficult to read, is cryptic in any way, or necessitates being slogged through to learn your information (they wonít bother), you wonít even get in the door. And how can you decide if you want the company if theyíve already decided they donít want you?

- Judi Perkins

Judi was a very successful recruiter for 22 years (15 contingency, 4 agency, 3 retained) and has now been a career coach for 3. The recruiter background, especially having been all three types, gives her deep insight into both sides of the hiring process. Now she teaches job seekers both the skill and psychological aspects of job hunting.

Sign up for her upcoming instructional webinar Interview Techniques That Can Lead to Job Offers" . Learn how to sell yourself, ask questions, create dialogue and get to the essence with a few simple techniques that are applicable at all levels.

Judi has been interviewed as an expert for books at each author's request; has her own book, "How to Find Your Perfect Job;:and has been quoted in numerous on and offline articles. She's also done radio interviews and speaking gigs. Her clients find jobs quickly, ending their months of frustration!