Looking for a job is a job. Believe me, I know. You spend hours applying to so many vacancies that you lose count. It’s now graduation season and many will be preparing to begin an exciting new career. So here is my contribution to your success. I’m going to give you 6 things to avoid on your resume, making it more effective. If you’re going to spend half days looking for a job, you need a winning resume that pays off by getting you noticed.
1. Spelling & Grammar. This should go without saying. I’ll say it anyway though. Your resume needs to be 100% error free. Last week I looked through a pile of resumes to select applicants that were interview worthy. Three people were qualified but didn’t make the cut because of errors. One person even had the guts to send in a resume with their college misspelled. How could I take them seriously? I didn’t. Their resume was quickly placed in the “No” pile.
2. Inconsistent Formatting. When you read a magazine or a newspaper, do you ever notice how everything is consistently formatted? Unless you’re a stickler for this kind of stuff, you probably don’t. That’s precisely the point. It flows so well that you are able to fully engage in reading and soaking up all the information that you need. That’s how a recruiter should feel about your resume.
3. Overdramatics. Your resume needs to be aesthetically pleasing. Simply, it needs to look good. There’s nothing wrong with adding splashes of color and making your resume represent you. This can be done in a way that still comes off as professional. Don’t take this too far and have your resume looking like the Skittles rainbow.
Another reason you should skip the dramatics: resume scanning systems. Recently I received over 300 applications for an open position with my organization. It takes a super crazy amount of manpower to filter through so many applicants. Companies are now using systems to look at keywords and other criteria in resumes and cover letters to determine if you will even make it through the first round of reviews. As an applicant, this can pose a problem. These kind of programs are not always advanced enough to read resumes that have customized fonts, graphics, borders and other bells/whistles.
Find a creative yet professional balance when presenting yourself on paper. Multiple candidates can have the right qualifications. What makes you the best pick?
4. Cover Letter. This is not optional. Even if a job doesn’t require that you send one, do it anyway (unless the job announcement specifically instructs against it). A well written cover letter can only play in your favor, never against you. A good cover letter should provide insight to what’s already included in your resume. A great cover letter will have tid bits that are not included on your resume, giving the letter a more personalized feel that’s tailored to a particular position.
5. Paragraphs: These are not your resume’s friend. I am amazed at how may resumes I see with these. The problem with paragraphs is that they don’t allow key points to stand out. Check out these examples.
Candidate A: Administrative Assistant. In this role I was the most amazing assistant ever. I prepared presentations and did this and did that. I increased the morale in my organization by doing this or that. I went the extra mile to complete team tasks each week. I was able to organize my supervisor’s busy life. And the list goes on about why I’m so awesome and you should hire me.
Candidate B: Administrative Assistant.
-Oversees calendar management to increase productivity
-Provided a boost to workplace morale by organizing company-wide activities
Okay, first of all – Candidate A seems a bit narcissistic don’t they? Anyway, the point here is to illustrate the different styles. As a recruiter who might be swimming in applications, Candidate B’s resume is a welcome read. It is short and to the point. Remember, these are simple examples and I want your resume to outshine both of these candidates.
6. “References available upon request.” This is an old school way of closing out a resume. It’s now 2015. Why even say this? Of course you have references and if a recruiter wants them they will ask. Your resume needs to contain only the pertinent information to help you snag a job. This sentence is just fluff.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and use them going forward. Head over to McGee Manuscript Group’s Facebook page for more writing tips each week. Do you have any challenges in creating a good resume? Maybe I can help!