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Five Things To Avoid On The Resume


Originally posted by: By: Richard Morgan – Senior Consultant & Career Coach – The Frontier Group 

There is a catch phrase throughout the professional marketplace from those employed and in career transition which states “ask ten people their opinion about a resume and you will get ten different opinions”. That may be true on certain minor or even cosmetic elements, but when it comes to content and how to best present your professional value, most career consultants, recruiters, human resource professionals and hiring decision-makers would agree on the following items:

Too much information

The number one complaint among hiring managers regarding resumes is that most have too much information. In other words, the phrase “less is more” is no more appropriate than when with putting together a concise resume. Assemble your content based upon the information that would most beneficial for a hiring manager in learning of your value, without sharing your entire life story. By the way, if it is longer than two pages, don’t send it out!

Personal Information

The next point to be aware of would be relative to information and content, but, specific to the type of information contained in the document. Alison Doyle (an accomplished human resources executive, job search expert published in dozens of recognized publication and appearing on many news and talk show programs, and, most recently, job search expert for About.com) addresses the inclusion of certain personal items with the statement “the rule of thumb is, when in doubt, leave it out!” She further clarifies that you “open the door” to additional questions that are not relevant to the hiring decision when you include personal information.

The use of general phrases and terms

As a former hiring manager, seeing the words “successful, hard-working, dedicated, and loyal”, I automatically began to wonder if the potential candidate is really all of those things! After all, shouldn’t we assume that if you are approaching decision makers about an open position that you would not apply unless you embody of these elements and more? For example, rather than stating “Successful Sales Manager with proven results in the area of new software sales”, you formulate a statement that truly defines your achievement such as “As Sales Manager, led team of 12 national representatives in the execution of new product launch, adding $12.5million in incremental revenue during 2012.”.

Acronyms and terminology without explanation

While it is true that you want send your resume to a target audience that would see value in your skill set and experience, not everyone is familiar with acronyms or terminology you utilized during you’re your career. If you do use abbreviations or acronyms, offer an explanation that enlightens the person and allows for greater degree of understanding of that statement. For example, most people would understand IRS to refer to the Internal Revenue Service; however, did you know that SME stands for Society of Manufacturing Experts, Small and Medium Enterprises, and, yes, of course, Subject Matter Expert. How to resolve this is to spell these items out, then there is no doubt of your point of reference.

Outdated phrases, terms, and information

One of the most popular things you will hear among those in transition is the fact that they do not want to appear “dated”. The best way to avoid this is to make certain that you do not include certain words or phrases in your resume. “References available upon request” and “career objective” are at the top of the list. You do not need to waste valuable real estate on this line when the hiring manager will likely ask for references when ready to move the interview to the next level (verification of employment, references, background checks, etc.). On a lighter note, if you create an “Objective Statement”, wouldn’t that be a bit repetitious since the hiring manager will likely ascertain that you are interested in their company since you’ve provided your resume. Therefore, wouldn’t this opening section be a great place for a summary of your professional qualifications including some things to encourage the reader to look more closely at your inherent value?

The resume is a complex document in that it requires you to provide the right information for the reader to become interested in what you can do for them and their company. So, with that in mind, ask yourself this simple question when creating the resume: If I were the hiring manager reading this document, would I hire me?”

Richard Morgan is a Senior Consultant & Career Coach with The Frontier Group. Richard has more than 20 years of professional experience within two primary sectors, consumer products and career services.