Given the state of the economy and what I do for a living, in the last few weeks I’ve seen my fair share of resumes. Most, I have to admit, were really bad. Not that the person who handed me the resume had no qualifications, but judging from their resume, they certainly had little chances of getting hired.
What makes someone throw away your resume before they ever get halfway through? Here are a few turn offs:
Spelling or grammar mistakes, including capitalizing things that don’t need capitalizing or vice-versa, not using a capital when needed. (No matter how often you’ve heard this, I bet you that you still have more than one mistake on your resume.)
Using a general objective such as: “Find a position where I can apply my experience as a sales manager.” Why would I hire you versus anybody else when everyone wants exactly the same thing? If you’re going to use an objective, make sure it matches the job you are applying for.
A detailed list of basic tasks such as: “Typing letters, answering the phone, making photocopies.” You should always focus on what you bring to the table. Do you have a great “can do” attitude? Are you a dynamic “problem solver” that is constantly thinking ahead to lower costs, increase sales, expand customer base, etc.? That’s what an employer wants to know: what is your value, what were your achievements at your past jobs. Even if you had an entry level job as an assistant or secretary you should be able to convey what your value was.
For recent grads, an “education” section that just lists the name of the school and major. You need to include your GPA, any awards and merit scholarships you received, special courses you took, projects you participated in, non-profits where you volunteered, extra curricular activities you were involved with, etc. Just because you just graduated, doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer.
The wrong format. Many people use the Latin American format of listing their oldest job first and the newest last. Don’t. The first thing on the resume should be your most recent job. Also, if you are old enough to have lots of experience, resumes can be two pages long so don’t try to fit everything on one page. Writing in small type and leaving no white spaces is another sure way to get your resume discarded.
Undoubtedly, the best way to write a resume is from the perspective of the recruiter who will read it. Think about what they are looking for, what kind of person would fit well in their organization and write from that angle.
As most employers ask for resumes to be emailed (and as hopefully you’re also using some job boards to post yours) don’t forget to customize your resume to each job application using keywords that match the job description. Resumes are reviewed by software that selects those that have the largest number of words matching each particular job posted.