7 Things Not to Do In Resume Writing
By Michelle Dumas,
the Director of Distinctive Career Services LLC
Focus On Yourself.
This is one of the most important rules when composing your
resume -- don't focus on yourself. Yes, of course it is your
resume and of course your resume is about you. But when you
write your resume, you should do so with the employer's
needs in mind. Rather than including a "resume objective,"
for example, which tells the reader what YOU want, write a
"summary of qualifications" section that tells the reader
what you OFFER them. Your summary section and entire resume
should be written to showcase the qualifications that you
bring to the table that will make you a valuable addition to
your future employer's team. The "employment history" section
of your resume should be written to emphasize achievements,
but include only those details and achievements that are
relevant to the intended recipient of your resume, and write
your achievements statements with an eye toward providing
proof of your aility to deliver similar contributions and
value in the future.
Don't Be Too General.
While you might think that being intentionally vague is a
good ploy to attract a broader spectrum of employers, this
strategy is almost guaranteed to backfire. Many recruiters
will tell you that they receive hundreds and hundreds of
resumes in response to just a single job posting. They will
not have time to go through each methodically. You'll be
lucky if you resume gets a quick 15-second scan. This quick
scan must give the employer an immediately obvious idea of
what you have to offer and whether or not a closer
examination of your resume is justified. If your resume
focus isn't crystal clear -- if the key points don't literally
jump off the page at the reader -- if the content isn't focused
to show how you will meet that employer's needs -- you will not
make it through the cut. Be specific and write your resume to
highlight the qualifications and accomplishments relevant to
Don't Be Generic.
Generic qualifications are those that simply put you on par
with your peers. Nearly everyone working within your
profession and industry can lay claim to certain baseline
qualifications. If these become the focus of your resume,
your resume will seem generic. While your baseline
credentials are important and should be mentioned in your
resume, they do nothing to differentiate you. Baseline
qualifications aren't what will win you an interview.
Showcasing baseline qualifications will simply make your
resume seem generic and ensure it blends in with all the
others. Instead, showcase those qualifications that
differentiate you and set you apart from your competition in
the job market. Communicate to the employer what makes you
unique and valuable and what uniquely qualifies you to meet
their needs, as opposed to the other applicants. Now take it
a step further and provide some examples of past
accomplishments that illustrate your differentiating
Don't Focus On Job Responsibilities.
Focusing your resume on the responsibilities that you have
held in past positions simply informs the reader what you
were supposed to do, not what you did do. There is a
difference between being responsible for something and
actually achieving something. Your resume should use active
language to convey what you accomplished, not what you were
supposed to accomplish. Additionally, an accomplishment
statement that stops short of conveying the actual result or
benefit of the accomplishment is not as powerful or credible
as it could be. Whenever possible you should use numbers in
your resume to provide examples of how you have helped make
money, save money, or otherwise add value to past employers.
Don't Include Your Life History.
Resumes, at their best, are meant to be self-marketing
documents that sell you as the best candidate to fill a job
opening. It is not meant to be a listing of your entire
background back to high school. If you include irrelevant or
out-of-date data in your resume you dilute the impact. If you
include experience that isn't relevant to the position you
are applying for, the reader may even begin to doubt that
you truly understand the requirements of the position. Write
your resume to focus on the specific skills that you bring to
the table for the job you are applying for, highlighting and
accentuating your experience in a targeted way. In most
cases, if you have more than 10, 15, or 20 years of work
history, your early jobs will be less relevant to your
current career. Focus your resume on only the most relevant
and recent experience.
Don't Be Too Personal.
Most experts agree that you should infuse your resume with
your own personal brand. Many even agree that it is a good
idea to let your personality subtly shine through. However,
you should not include too much personal information. Your
resume is not the place to list your age, details about your
family, information that reveals your religion or political
leanings, or details about your health. Quite apart from the
fact that this information is essentially irrelevant for
virtually all jobs, employers are very sensitive about
information that could lead to discrimination suits.
Potential employers are restricted in the types of
information that they can seek from you and you should not
offer it up front. If you do, many employers will simply
toss your resume aside and move on to the next candidate for
Don't Use A Template.
In a job market that is more competitive than many of us
have seen in our lifetimes, your resume must stand out from
the masses. If you use a template to compose and design your
resume, your resume will simply blend in with the 100 other
applicants that used the very same template. It doesn't
matter how powerful and persuasive the content of your
resume is if it never gets read. A generic, template-looking
resume will be passed up for the next resume in the pile that
is eye-catching and distinctive. Don't go overboard, but make
sure that your resume is neat, attractive, catches the eye,
and uses a format that is easy to read while calling
attention to the differentiators in your background.
About the Author:
Michelle Dumas runs one of the longest-standing and
most respected professional resume writing firms on the internet. Since
1996, Michelle and her team have empowered thousands of professionals
with resumes and job search strategies that get results and win jobs fast.
Get insider resume writing tips that you won't find anywhere else, example
resumes, and more articles like this one at her website. Go now to http://www.distinctiveweb.com
Published - March 2011