Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bad Resume Habits

    After perusing through tons of résumés, my hope for the future of humanity has almost all withered and died. In a last attempt to save our world, I am presenting a list of outstanding and too-common mistakes that are seen on résumés.

    Some of these issues are common sense. Some of them are funny. Unfortunately, I have personally seen every single one of these mistakes numerous times.

I'll be targetting résumés sent via email, but most of these tips will apply for hard copies as well.

I'll divide it up into categories, but first I want to list the most common problems.

  • Use correct grammar and spelling.
  • Have a professional email address. will only get you hired as a stripper.
  • Use .pdf format! Do not send your résumé in .txt, .rtf, or .htm format.
  • Only use fancy words and punctuation if you actually know what they mean and how to use them. And don't overuse them because, most of the time, your potential employer won't understand fancy stuff!

Now let me go into the rest of the issues, divided by category.

Person issues

    If they don't like you, they likely won't hire you. Make a good first impression.
  • If you put an email address on your résumé (which is a good idea), I suggest it be or something similar.
  • Don't put "Hi There!" in the subject line of an emailed application. It's unprofessional.
  • If you send your résumé three times and then follow up every single day with an email, you will definitely be remembered! They'll remember to redirect all of your emails to their junk folder. Don't pester your potential employer!
  • I'm sorry, but if your résumé is centered around your past work experience as a cheerleader and as a Hooters waitress, you'll only break the heart of the guy who tries to hire you only to have his superiors stop those plans. If you are trying to get an office job, then have some office experience.
  • Don't ask if you can send a résumé. Just send it.

File Issues

    If a potential employer cannot open your résumé easily or correctly, you probably won't get the job.
  • Use .pdf format. .doc is also acceptable but not as good. Never send your résumé in .htm, .rtf, or .txt format. If the reviewer is the least bit tech-savvy, your résumé will go straight to the trash.
  • Renaming résumé.doc to résumé.pdf will not turn it into a .pdf file; it will just make it harder to open. Google for "converting .doc to .pdf".
  • Please, don't send your résumé in the body of an email. You can't control the margins, you can't control whether they allow pictures or formatting, you just can't know how it will look. Most of the time, it will look absolutely horrendous! Send it as an attachment instead.
  • I recommend saving your résumé as your first and last name. This prevents potential employers from accidentally overwriting your résumé when saving multiple résumés to disk.
  • Use tabs, not spaces. With spaces, the alignment is sometimes not perfect, and it looks ugly.

Content Issues

  • If you can only type 35 to 50 wpm, keep that to yourself. I can type over 100 wpm. If you can beat that or come close (at least 65wpm), then put that on your résumé.
  • Use consistent formatting. Google "consistent formatting" if you don't know what I mean.
  • If you're a beginner at something, don't say on your résumé that you are a beginner. Let me say this again. If you are a beginner at something, do not say that you are a newbie.
  • Don't make it too short. We want more than work history, so list some skills.
  • Make sure that the written objective (if there is one) matches the job for which you are applying. If you say, "I am applying for a job in underwater basket weaving," and you submit that to Microsoft, do you think that you'll get a job?
  • Some words and phrases are overused. I get tired of all the "proficient in..." phrases after a while. Be creative and unique.
  • Don't use an automatic résumé creator. Most of them are no good.

Have any ideas?

    Okay, so maybe I'm no expert at what to do when writing résumés, but I have seen enough bad ones that I know exactly what not to do. I (and my loyal readers) would welcome any further insight, so feel free to comment.

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