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Ask A Career Coach - Five Resume Blunders To Avoid

The sheer number of articles, blogs, and whitepapers outlining the “ideal” resume are enough to keep a job seeker in a state of confusion. While there is no perfect resume, as the purpose of the resume is to obtain a conversation with the decision maker, there are five resume blunders one should definitely avoid:

Using key resume space to list your objective statement.  

The objective statement is old school. The hiring manager doesn’t care what you are looking for in your next position; what they want to understand is how you can value to their company and fill their needs. Recruiters and hiring managers admit they typically look at 1/3 of the first page of a resume. If you are one of the lucky ones, they will give the resume content 30-60 seconds. This being said, you must have a compelling marketing/qualifications statement and summary of your key competencies to peak their interest in reading any further. 

Your resume reads like a job description of your previous roles.  

Hiring Managers and recruiters are busy people; no one has the time or patience to read through 12 bullet points describing all of your various duties performed in previous positions. The purpose of the resume is to market your work experience, skills and accomplishments and demonstrate to the decision maker how you can add value to their organization. You must be targeted and concise when describing your responsibilities in your previous roles. When outlining your accomplishments, you must demonstrate your results:  how you saved time, improved processes, reduced errors, increased sales, reduced shortage, generated cost savings, increased client retention/satisfaction, etc.

Errors in format, font, spelling, capitalization, punctuation and grammar.

The resume is your professional marketing tool and any of the above errors will certainly kill your chances of being called in for that important conversation.  Ask a friend or trusted advisor to proof your resume. Use bold sparingly on key headers to break up the content and easily direct the reader’s attention.  Avoid any distracting graphics, use a readable font size, and be sure to include adequate white space to make the resume easy to read.

Use of adjectives such as exceptional, dynamic, highly accomplished, loyal and committed.

Hiring Managers expect the candidate they hire to be loyal, committed and a team player and their goal is eliminate candidates who are not dynamic or highly accomplished. Don’t take up critical resume space elaborating on soft skills. These soft skills can be showcased during the interview with the decision maker.

Use of incorrect tense and first person pronouns.

Spend extra time ensuring the use of proper tense through the resume. Utilize past tense for previous roles, “led, directed, managed, supervised” and present tense if currently performing the role: “lead, direct, manage, supervise”.  Avoid personal pronouns at all cost.

Ensure your resume is concise, targeted, accurately reflects your accomplishments and results, is free of errors and demonstrates your qualifications as related to the desired position. Take the time to research several job postings that you are interested in and qualified. Review the desired qualifications, skills required and the language used in the job descriptions. This will provide insight into the content and language important to include in your resume.

Paula Pope is a Senior Consultant with The Frontier Group. Her practice specialities are career coaching, outplacement consulting and talent development.Her Atlanta resume writing are well established and recognized by her clients.