Tales from the Resume Reef: 9 "Killer Shark" resume errors to avoid.

Career Advice: Tales from the Resume Reef: 9 “Killer Shark”…
Resume Errors To Avoid

This resume guidance from a pro, Greg Lachs, is well worth heeding. He writes:

Doing your own resume? Please pay attention to detail!

In today’s economy, employers can be even more fussy about the resumes they want to look at. So, it is more crucial than ever to avoid what I would call “killer shark” resume errors. These are ones who will most likely get your resume ignored, lost or not taken as seriously as you deserve.

These are the kinds of things I’ve fixed for other people in over a dozen years of working with resumes. Repairs of the “killer shark” problems didn’t guarantee results; the repairs did, though, remove obstacles to getting a resume read and for a candidate to be taken seriously for opportunities.

If you do your own resume, avoid the following “killer shark” errors.

1. Old contact information or contact information missing: This is a “killer” simply because it’s hard to reach you if you don’t provide the correct information. Make certain your contact information includes an email address you use regularly. If you put in your phone number, make certain you include any number you’d be ok with an employer calling. For most of us, it’s a cell phone.

2. Spelling Errors: This is a “killer.” Spell check exists in pretty much all word processing programs and most email clients as well. If you don’t spell check your resume, you are sending the message that you aren’t detail oriented. Not a good thing for an employer to see.

3. Handwritten Corrections: I’ve seen this more than I ever thought possible. There is NOTHING professional about using handwriting to update ANY information on a printed resume. If it means going to a friend’s house to type a resume from “scratch,” that’s better than someone seeing scrawled “corrections” on your resume. From experience, I can tell you that resumes with handwritten edits very quickly go to the bottom of the pile, if they are kept at all.

4. Additional Pages Without Contact Info: Here’s another “killer.” In today’s so called “paperless” world, we print out more than ever before. If you have a multipage resume, but your contact information is only on the first page, how does someone know that the other pages are part of the same resume? That becomes a kind of puzzle that hiring folks don’t have time for. Just put the same contact info (including your name) that you have on page 1 in the upper right corner of EVERY additional resume page.

5. Tiny Font Sizes: Ever seen something in print that was so small, you feel like you’d need a microscope to read it? I’ve seen resumes where 4,6 or 8 point fonts were used. Most hiring folks don’t keep a microscope around to read resumes. Use a font between 10-12 points: most folks are comfortable reading documents that are sized such. Anything smaller is potentially an eye test. And if it means your resume is a little longer, isn’t it better that it’s one that someone can read easily?

6. Space Killers: Not talking about “Alien” here. Don’t use a large font (over 12 points) throughout your resume to make it look “longer.” No one thinks it’s a better resume: just that you are eating up space. If you are filling out your resume that way, you NEED to shorten it. Switch to a 10-12 point font. If it means a “short resume,” change your default margins to 1” all around and increase the font size for your first page contact info to 14 or 16. Remember when you answered essay questions for tests? It wasn’t the length of the answer that the instructor was looking at: he or she was looking at the content of the writing. Same thing is true of a resume!

7. Personal Information: Leave your SSN, DL, date of birth, names of kids, name of spouse, date of wedding, etc. behind. I have seen these on a number of resumes, particularly those with a lot of work experience. These information bits are “killers” because you are giving away private information others can use for potentially bad purposes. Plus, employers DO NOT want to see info on marital or child status on the resume. They don’t want it, can’t ask for it and you don’t have to give it to them!

8. The Nefarious Bad Copy Killer: If your resume prints out oddly, or you have some poor copies made, don’t use them! I’ve had resumes faxed to me that were clearly not in good shape to begin with, considering I couldn’t read the fax. Make certain you are sending a “clean copy” no matter how you send it. Again, it relates to perceptions of professionalism. Hiring folks tend to think “If this person sent me this bad a copy of a resume, how detail-oriented is he/she?”

9. The Dark Fancy Paper Killer: Most of us print resumes in a dark font, and black is a good color to use for text. However, don’t let ANYONE talk you into putting that resume onto dark red, dark blue or any other dark paper color. Simply, it’s just very hard to read. Fax that, and it’s even more difficult for someone else to read. Plain white paper is just fine: if you want to use fancier paper for mailed resumes, stick to something like ivory or crème colors.

It’s easy to avoid “Killer Sharks” in the resume world. Keep things simple, professional and easy for someone else to read.

If you have more questions on resume writing, you will find tips at The Job Search Dolphin!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

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