- A BLAND OR GENERIC OBJECTIVE: If your objective could be applied to a marketing CV as easily as a resume for an accounting position, then your objective says nothing and will get you nowhere. An objective is NOT some randomly required paragraph at the top of the page or an exercise in job speak. It’s an actual and real description of your skills as they’re related to who you are and what you want. It should vary with the type of job for which you are applying.
- BLAND JOB DETAILS: “Responsibilities included overseeing construction of 4 Hilton Hotels in Tri-City Metro Area, each 50 floors in height.” Yeah? So what? That doesn’t say if they went up on schedule or if you brought the projects in under budget. It doesn’t say if you took all four from site work up or if the guy handling two of the four hotels was fired and you were promoted to overseeing all four. Differentiate yourself from the others coming in to interview. If you don’t tell the hiring company how you will be an asset to them, how will they know?
- WHO’S THE MYSTERY COMPANY?: Don’t assume the name and purpose of your company is common knowledge. If it’s a competitor, it might be, and if it’s in the same industry and located nearby, it might be. To be on the safe side, provide a sentence or two about the focus of your previous company’s products or services.
- ANOTHER JOB, ANOTHER PARAGRAPH: Don’t keep adding on to your resume job after job, year after year. By the time you’re in your 40s, you need to have weeded out some of the earlier stuff. You don’t need all the college activities, just your degree. You don’t need ALL five bullets for each of your first two jobs.
- REFERENCES: Shouldn’t usually be listed on your resume. “References available on request” is the proper phrase. You can present them separately when they’re requested. This isn’t about protocol. This is about protecting your references so they aren’t called until you and the company are serious about each other.
- IT’S NOT A STORY!: Don’t – whatever you do, DON’T – write your resume in the third person!
- SKIP THE PERSONAL INFO: You might think your weekend baseball coaching or your church choir participation shows you’re an interesting and well-rounded person, but they’re irrelevant. If the interviewer wants to know who you are as a person, aside from the job interview and your qualifications, they will ask.
- DEGREE DATE: No matter how old you are, don’t leave the date of when you were graduated off your CV. It looks like you’re hiding something (well, you are, aren’t you?), and then everyone counts the years backwards and tries to figure out how old you are. Sometimes you can be ruled out just for leaving the date off. If you’re trying to hide your age by not stating the date, what else might you not be forthcoming about?
- SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK: Spell checking visually by you AND someone else, any fewer than three times, isn’t enough. And don’t forget to check your punctuation.
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- GETTING YOUR CV OUT THERE – Don’t use one of those resume blaster things. Half those sites aren’t even valid. You don’t know how it will look when it comes out on the other end. You don’t even know where it’s going or if the landing targets are employment related. It’s bad form and just… .NOT the way to find your perfect job. Finding your perfect job takes focus, attention, detail, individuality, tailoring, specifics. Resume blasting is about as far from that as you can get.
- RESUME VISUALS: Ivory paper. Black ink. Individual pages. No plastic, school-style science report cover with the plastic slider or metal push down tabs. Your name at the top, not on a cover page that says “Introducing Clifton Lewis Montgomery III”. Your CV is a professional document, not a school book report or an art project. Until every resume is done this way, yours will still stand out in the crowd.
You are the product, and your resume is the marketing piece. To find your perfect job you must differentiate yourself from the other people who will be interviewed.
Your resume must be specific, individualised, easy to skim so it invites a closer reading, and focused on the differences you’ve made with your previous companies, as well as the accomplishments you’ve achieved with – and for – them. This tells the hiring company what you can do for them – and it IS about the hiring company, not you.
Of course this assumes you meet the requirements for the job – otherwise, it doesn’t matter how good your CV is! The CV is what gets you in the door. If it’s poorly written, looks sloppy, is difficult to read, is cryptic in any way, or necessitates being slogged through to learn your information (they won’t bother), you won’t even get in the door. And how can you decide whether you like the company, if they’ve already decided they don’t like you?