Writing resumes is hard. Reading through hundreds of them is harder. Here’s a quick list of things you should do if you want to absolutely make sure that you won’t keep a busy hiring manager’s attention.
1) Write “Dear hiring committee” or “To whom it may concern” – As much as we’d all like to believe we’re on Top Chef or Project Runway, there’s no panel or committee voting you in. A good old-fashioned individual is looking over your resume, so it’s a good idea to learn their name. Contact information is everywhere online these days, so do your research.
2) Hide your contact info – Even if an employer really wants to give you a job, missing names, phone numbers and addresses will make it hard for them to get a hold of you. Make sure everything they need to know about you is clearly visible at the top of the resume. You want to give employers every possible opportunity to contact you. Your location might not seem that important, but it matters to employers whether you’re from out of town or not.
3) Overload them with information – So you know there’s a million good reasons why you’re the perfect candidate position, but that doesn’t mean the hiring manager needs to hear all of them. Pick the things that matter most for the position you’re applying for.
4) Use buzzwords – You’re a great candidate, but nobody will know it if you describe yourself as a self-motivated, goal-oriented, team player who wants to leverage their skills. Avoid vague, overused descriptors, and focus more on what you’ve done that makes you a great candidate.
5) Tell them about responsibilities instead of accomplishments – So you closed 5 accounts and exceeded your sales targets by 100% at your last job, but nobody’s going to know that if you just write that you were “responsible for maintaining client satisfaction.” Job duties aren’t going to sell you to employers. Don’t just tell them what you did. Tell them how you did it.
7) List qualifications that don’t match your experience – So you say you’re got great public relations skills, but your job history lists nothing but graphic design work. Never ask employers to make a leap of faith. Show them why you’re great at something by including relevant positions in your work history.
8) Use random file names – Your resume is so awesome that it practically sparkles on your hard drive, but it’s going to look more like the rock that Charlie Brown gets at Halloween if you give it a generic name like “resume.doc.” Make it easy for HR managers to open your resume. Include your name, the position and maybe your city. Don’t create extra work for the hiring manager by forcing them to rename the file to avoid overwriting an existing file.
9) Take a trip down memory lane – Nostalgia can be grand, but there is such a thing as going too far back in your history (high school should stay in the decade where you left it). Your resume should be dressed to impress employers, so never write down anything that you wouldn’t mention during an interview.
10) Exclude dates – Dates can answer a lot of questions for hiring managers ahead of time. Make sure employers know when you worked or went to school somewhere and for how long. When it comes time to compare you to other candidates, think of dates like a complementary top hat for your resume. It assures employers that your experience and education are up-to-date and also makes you look a lot more dashing.
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