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The Most Common Mistakes Job Hunters Make When Writing Their Resumes and How to Avoid Them!
December 7th, 2009 by Tatiana Varenik  Posted in Career Advice, Most Popular, Resume Writing
23

fire_finger_bossAre you looking for a job? Sending out your resume everywhere and not getting responses? Is it the economy or your resume? Let’s look at the resume one more time and try to understand what the problem is.

Presenting the most common mistakes job hunters make when writing their resumes:

1.    Leaving out the job objective. What direction are you moving in? What career goals do you want to achieve? You describe it in your job objective. The job objective is a brief introduction to your resume that establishes your employment goals. It needs to be specific enough to identify the types of jobs you have the right skills and qualifications for. Including your objective not only helps you understand your own goals, but also gives employers an idea of where you are going, and how you want to arrive there.

Examples:

“To obtain a customer service position at a large company and utilize the skills I have obtained through my previous work experience.”

“Highly motivated, enthusiastic retail sales manager with exceptional proven performance will strive for your sales goals. Employee supervision and retail sales operations experience. Record-setting sales leader with excellent coaching skills and ability to boost employee morale.”

2.    Your resume as a history of your past. It’s not just about your past jobs!  It’s about your accomplishments at those jobs. What you are capable of, how you achieved your capability, in what different ways do you apply your skills and how the skills you have will be beneficial to the employer. Remove everything that starts with “responsibilities included” and replace it with on-the-job accomplishments. Employers are not interested in what activities you performed on a daily basis - they are interested in how well you performed those activities.

3.    Not including PAR (Problem-Action-Results). This is how you impress an employer. First you state the problem that existed in your previous job, then you describe what you did about it, and finally you point out the beneficial results.

Examples:

“Reduced head count by 50 percent while improving planning service levels by restructuring organization of planning department and eliminating one layer of management.”

“Automated employee records and medical claims functions, reducing staff size by 40 percent and improving processing time savings $160,000 per year.”

4.    Not paying attention to keywords. Keywords are important components of a resume because prospective employers use a list of keywords and keyword phrases to search resume databases for potential employees. To strengthen your odds, you need every potential keyword working for you. Make sure to add all your industry buzzwords as well as your biggest soft skills. To define keywords that apply to your job target, look at job postings and employment ads for similar jobs, and list the skills, qualifications, technical or product knowledge and industry jargon. Did you know that some of the highest searched keywords today:  “problem-solving,” “leadership” and “oral and written communication.”  Keywords can also be single words, such as Word, or short phrases, such as “Document Preparation.”

5.    Making the unusual resume layout/design. A professional resume layout is critical to your job searching success. Keep it simple and easy to read, use black color and a standard font such as Arial, Geneva, or Times New Roman, utilize bullet points and make it one or two pages. The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. Do not overflow your resume with big words or endless text; leave spaces and blank lines between each section.

Remember, an average resume is read in approximately 7 seconds. If your information is organized in long paragraphs that are difficult to read quickly, they are most likely not going to be read at all.

Right now, take out your resume. Look at it one more time. Could it use some more work? You will be pleasantly surprised at what a few changes can do for your future!
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Tags: resume, advice, common-mistakes, resume-tips
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  • Walter Sommer

    Very Usefull!

  • I agree that all the content in the CV should be grammatically perfect and also should be formatted accurately.

  • Thanks for the information provided. However I would like to make a comment for recruiters and applicants. Recruiters often fall short in doing justice to applicants - 7 seconds on a resume is horrible - really you are not doing justice to your company too! With regard to applicants putting your career objective on the first page, I would suggest you use a one-liner that describes you/your strength (job related of course) as companies today are not really interested in where you want to go, they want to know what you bring to the table.

  • Carlos Atencio

    Very Helpful information, is there any template to follow for example at the group?

    Best regards,

    Carlos

  • John

    After 20 years in executive recruitment and search, I'm still surprised at the quality of some of the papers that come across my desk, whether in application for posts or speculative approaches. For me some of the most common errors include:

    - Not tailoring the CV to the job in question (e.g. don't send a CV telling me what a great Finance Director you are when the job is for a Managing Director)

    - Giving a list of duties rather than achievements (tell me what difference you have made) - I've even received current job descriptions from experienced executives (not as additional info).

    - Astonishingly, not giving me a contact phone/email address

    - Making me look up the organisation you work for - tell me something relevant about it (size, nature of business, customer base etc). Particularly important if you're changing sectors, disciplines or work for a small firm

    - Too much information - I recently received a 38 page application for a board appointment

    - A really poor, or non-existent, covering letter or statement - it is your chance to confirm/clarify/convince me that you can do this job, so don't miss the opportunity.

    Of course, it's in my interest to try and look beyond the CV to see if the candidate can offer something to the role despite a poor application and I have many examples of those that might not have made the first cut going deep into the process. But why cut down your chances? Improve your hit rate by sending targeted, relevant applications that make the recruiter's job easy to call you in.

  • Dr.Faisal K Lodhi

    This article is really very informative and helpful….but I would like to ask on the behalf of this Resume blog that what tips should we keep in our mind when the employer are not well educated in English,I mean to say that this is very obvious and everybody knows that in Saudi Arabia and in GCC countries most of the employers are Arabic speaking (Almost 99%) and they are not very well versed in English even they don’t bother to read or speak in English …..I have my personal example, once I appeared for an interview in a well known Pharmaceutical Industry and when my interview was about to start the interviewer (Marketing Director) had a slight look into my CV & said, Sorry I have a headache in my Head, as yesterday is my wife’s date of birth & I will not sleep very well last night also your CV need 2 weeks to read for me (my CV is of almost 2 and half page)

  • Valentino Martinez

    REVISED

    I read the Resumark Blog and agree with many of the good point made there regarding resume writing mistakes. I also responded to one of the dynamics mentioned in the assessment of candidate resumes. My comment is:

    "A recruiter or hiring manager who can dismiss a resume in the span of 7 seconds of read time and brags about it, SHOULD BE FIRED in .5 seconds. Why? They are not doing their company any favors by blazing through resumes, representing individuals--where many actually do have promise.

    A talented recruiter or hiring manager, in my view--is worth their weight in gold if they can READ through a resume--and even read between the lines in some instances to make a fit or no fit decision...before they move on to the next resume.

    Going through resumes in 7 seconds is pure arrogance, shortsighted and borders on discrimination because, in my view, they didn't read the resume, nor did the truly assess it--they merely glanced at a name, a few titles, some details and passed on it...in 7 seven seconds or maybe less since 7 is the average.

    Yes, time is critical and thousands of resume may be pouring in, but in my 36 years of recruitment, staffing and university relations management, and recruitment strategist experience--no recruiter or hiring manager works in a vacuum. Besides their specific openings they all relate and work with other recruiters and/or hiring managers in the company who also have, or will potentially have hiring needs. I'm always impressed with the hiring manager at a job fair who sees a candidate, or candidate's resume and makes a note and/or tells me as the recruiter that this resume/individual should be sent over to Bob Smith in Accounting, or QA..."He's looking for this skill set" BOOM!

    So, the biggest mistake a job hunter makes is getting your resume in the hands of recruiter who can dismiss you in about seven seconds".

  • Tatiana V.

    Hi Arijit,
    I would recommend to create an 'Objective' section and describe your goal in a few sentences and, then, update your resume to include the experience that is relevant to your desired role. Also feel free to read the Resume Writing section of our bog. Hope that helps.

  • Hi,
    I found this article quiet interesting specially Point no. 3. I from my personal experience feel resume do leave impression on employer. Lengthy resume are rejected at large and as far as resume of experienced candidates is concerned there are various schematics available that help you to summarize in 1-2 pages. As has been mentioned earlier, Its more about showing your achievements rather then responsibilities you have carried out.

  • Arijit Dutta

    Could you post some example on how to structure resume where one is looking for a change in job role example from Product Management to mainstream sales or business development.

  • I conduct "Exceptional Skills for New Employees" training sessions to job-seekers, new employees and incumbent staff, primarily providing "top 20 skills, behaviors and performances" to session attendees, that employers expect employees (especially new employees) to deliver/demonstrate; for new employees, to get them 'up to speed' on their first day/week; and, for incumbent staff, reinforcing ongoing performance. Both statements re. resume review time are valid for new and senior level positions; and, this statement is true across the board: resume review is tedious and time-consuming for most resume reviewers and screeners. For the most part, resume content that "jumps out at the reviewer" in a clear, user-friendly and non-misinterpretable manner will catch the eye of the reviewer faster and get that resume to the top of the stack. Anytime the resume reviewer needs to re-read a statement, wonder about definitions or interpretations and dig for clarification, will usually result in the resume being "flipped over". When hiring/on-boarding new employees, employers want to see that first day/week performance "confirms/re-affirms" resume content and if first day/week performance by the new employee does not confirm resume content, then employers usually make a mental decision to retain/release and then carry out that decision within the month. The "Exceptional Employee Skills" session that I conduct seeks to close the gap between resume content and first day/week performance so that when new employees start employment, their performance closely matches as much as possible their resume content, providing confidence and confirmation to the employer that their hiring decision was "on target". Donna Kutylowski, Consultant, A1Exceptional Performance

  • I have sent out at least 1000 CVs and have contacted about 100 recruiters this year. So far the only positions I have been able to acquire were through collegues already on the project. Something is wrong. While I will honestly go back and reassess my CV I have lost faith in recruiters. It seems as if they are only interested in high level executives which will bring a higher paycheck. The economy bares a high percentage of blame as well. With so many people looking for work recruiters are inundated with CVs and job seekers need to pay careful attention to how their CV is written.

  • Lsutigah

    It's true that recruiters will spend more time on higher-paying "commissions" but when the rubber meets the road, I don't turn down anything. Most of the time it's a timing/number game. Either a clients has a (current/impending) need and if the candidates' available, there' a chance of a match. Otherwise, it probably won't happen.

  • Mel C

    I disagree about objective as does many other resources. A Summary is better than an objective. Objectives are, if ever, to be used with entry-level positions, not for seasoned professionals.

  • Rizal Hercalius Siregar

    I used the same format resume send to different employer. Some invited me for interview some are not. I guess some employers find it interesting and some are not. My opinion no matter our resume look like it will not always have a same result, because different employer have different 'taste'. but i agree for some points need to be emphasize when writing the resume

  • György Smidt

    My only note of caution is on point 5, where in some industries those notes must be changed. If, for instance, I am applying at a small design firm, using Arial would be an almost instant fail since the resume must reflect that you have some sense of the industry in which you are applying, and using a classy font (hint: none of the named fonts are considered classy) tells the reviewer something about you. So be prepared to modify this advice where it makes sense. (If I were reviewing résumés to work with me in my design business, Arial would earn a résumé a straight trip to the circular file faster than anything else!)

    On the other hand, don't ever use something like Comic Sans or anything hard to read. Good alternative fonts would include Minion, Garamond (although you'd need a slightly larger font size for Garamond to be readable), Myriad, perhaps Brioso.

    Also, in my experience, résumés that look like they came out of an MS Word template are more likely to get trashed than ones that look like you spent a little time customizing them. Don't go too wild on that, but take some though about how to make your résumé stand out just a little bit in a good way.

    Regarding Rohit's point, that may or may not be true. At large firms where they might get hundreds of applicants for senior positions, there will be an initial read-through of the résumés to figure out which ones to spend time with. This read through will look for certain key points that must be met and anything where these points are not obvious will be canned in seconds. This process is needed to quickly get rid of the ones that aren't worth reading before they do look over the ones that merit attention. If they have 200 applicants, they are going to try to get down to 20 as quickly as possible, even for senior-level positions, and they won't want to spend time reading the résumé of someone who is marginally qualified for the position.

    It's only after there is a short

  • prosanto

    for a technocrat with good many professional qualifications & world wide work experiences of 25 years- should the CV be readable in 07 secs,

  • Rohit Ranjan

    While the average time for reading a resume in 7 seconds may be true for entry level jobs this is certainly not the case for senior positions where a resume is read very carefully.

  • This is very helpful. As a freelance writer, I will now go revise the "career history" page of my website. Your thoughts seem very sound and practical to me. I appreciate your advice.

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