Career Advice, Interviews

Five Résumé Screw Ups You Might Be Making

Let’s face it. When it comes to writing résumés there are a lot of different opinions on the best format, style, and method.  Even among certified professional résumé writers, there are a variety of approaches that can be taken. If you have gone the route of doing your résumé alone, or even if you have had a writer prepare your résumé, it is important to check twice to avoid these common screw-ups.

  1. Are you a Manager or a Manger? While the nativity scene is nice, especially around holiday time, I don’t think that as a senior level manager it would be wise to list yourself as a Manger on your résumé. Yet, according to many recruiters, this is one of the most common typographical errors found. While a recruiter or hiring manager may overlook this, it doesn’t win you any brownie points. A résumé is your calling card. It should be 100% error free. Bottom line – don’t rely on spell-checker!
  2. Have you ‘Bulleted to Death’? Using bullets on a résumé can be a great way to highlight core competencies and underscore key achievements. However, bullets can also be the kiss of death when they are overused. One time, back when I was Director of HR at a direct marketing agency, I received a résumé from a candidate who had a string of 46 bullets in a row, I kid you not. Needless to say, after the 6th bullet, I lost interest and stopped reading – into the ‘to be filed’ pile it went. I have no idea whether he was a good candidate because no matter how I tried, I simply couldn’t read through his résumé.
  3. Are you an ‘I’ user? Personal pronouns like I, me and my have their place in a well-written cover letter.  In a résumé, they simply don’t belong.  In addition to making the writer appear amateurish, they are not considered the accepted standard for today’s well written résumé.  Steer clear of this all too common screw up.
  4. Have you accomplished anything? Sure, if you are a sales person, producing numbers and percentages on your résumé is relatively easy, but what if you are a biologist or a software developer?  It is vital that you quantify your achievements so potential employers know you are a productive contributor. While you may not have exact statistics, providing a generally accurate picture of your achievements is well worth it.  I recommend using the SAR method:  Situation, Action, Result.
  5. Does your résumé give TMI? While the days of the one page résumé are over for most senior level candidates, and it is acceptable to provide a lengthier career history, this doesn’t mean you need to describe every last detail of what you did on a daily basis for the past 20 years. Use your résumé to provide critical information, rather than too much information.  A résumé is a foot in the door. Once you are inside, you can always elaborate.