America's Most Qualified Workplace Experts
Resume 911! 5 Disastrous Mistakes to Avoid
By Amy Levin-Epstein
(MoneyWatch) Resumes are often your first point of entry with a potential employer. They're the electronic equivalent of that initial handshake. But if you make any of the mistakes below, you might never get to that face-to-face interview. On the other hand, if you rid your resume of them, you'll be that much closer to getting the next job you apply for.
Sharing a job description instead of accomplishments
Your resume should highlight what you bring to the table as an individual candidate. "If what is written in a resume can be written by the person who did the job, before, with, or after you, then you haven't done yourself justice. Resumes need to be infused with numbers, accomplishment and specificity," says Brad Karsh, president of consulting firm JB Training Solutions.
Relying on spell-check too heavily
Some errors won't be caught by spell-check. "I saw a resume recently that began, 'Professional Summery.' Spell check won't help there!" says Louise Kursmark, resume expert and founder of career consulting firm Best Impression Career Services, Inc. Unfortunately, one small mistake can land your resume in a garbage can. To prevent careless errors, re-read your resume twice, aloud.
Letting formatting errors ruin your first impression
Most resumes are sent via email these days, but that isn't an excuse to have formatting errors. Send a test resume to yourself to make sure your everything looks right. Or: "PDF your resume. This will ensure the formatting is not altered," says Karsh.
Using superlative language
Show, not tell, how great a candidate you are by using stats and numbers. But avoid flowery language that says little, including words like "amazing" and "extraordinary." "With this terminology, you sound immature and inappropriate for a business environment. Also, when you have great accomplishments to share, you don't need to dress them up or over-emphasize them with superlatives," says Ford Myers, author of "Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring."
Not using the right keywords
Since many resumes go through an applicant tracking system that attempts to weed out unqualified candidates, not inserting the right keywords could cost you an interview. "When a hiring manager wants top candidates, a search is done using the keywords related to the open position. If a job-seekers does not have the right keywords on his/her resume, that resume will never be seen by a hiring manager -- at least not via the tracking system," says Randall Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers. This is why online databases can seem like a black hole. Use the correct keywords, and your resume is less likely to get lost.