Resume Writing Habits That Will Keep You in the Unemployment Line
How Not to Get Hired
There are so many books on writing resumes that if you stacked them up, end to end, they would reach into outer space. There are many ways to write a resume and although a good resume won't necessarily get you hired, it's certain a bad resume will remove any chance you have to get a foot in the employment door. Here are a few no-no's when it comes to writing resumes. Commit these resume screw-ups and you'll never get an interview.
- You write it by hand - Resumes in the 21st century are typed. Actually, resumes in the 20th century were typed too. Actually, I don't think there was ever a time in the history of the resume when they weren't typed, so if you're writing your resume by hand, you're basically telling your potential employer that you're a Luddite of the highest order who will probably come to work on a horse, ask weird questions about the indoor plumbing, and generally weird everyone out.
- It's got stains on it - I can't think of anything on paper that's made better by having a stain on it. From a practical perspective this means that if you're taking your resume in to drop it off by hand to make a good impression and you stop by the coffee shop and you spill your Frappucino on the resume you don't consider, even for a second, dropping that particular copy of the resume off. Yes, you must go back home and print another unless you were smart enough to bring a second copy with you. This is why sending a resume by email is great. You can't spill anything on an email.
- Bad spelling and bad grammar - If you want to destroy any chance you have to get a particular job, go ahead and riddle your resume with spelling mistakes and bad grammar. There's just no excuse in this age of spell-checkers and grammar-checkers to have either.
- Emoticons - I don't care where you're applying for a job, emoticons are not funny, little resume enhancements. Even if you're applying for a job as an emoticon creator, you should probably avoid them.
- Unnecessary design flourishes - For good or bad, resumes are plain. While there are definitely things you can do with creative formatting and font design, there's a line that one should never cross and that's when a resume crosses the line from professional to artistic. Squiggly lines, drawings... basically anything that isn't a letter or a line is off limits.
- More than one page - Look, nobody wants to read your resume in the first place, so the shorter it is, the better. But like some people just run at the mouth and don't know when to shut up, the bad resume writer doesn't know when to quit. Probably 95% of all submitted resumes do not need to be more than one page. It's a very rare resume that needs - and I emphasize the word "needs" - to be two pages.
- Written like a novel - The resume is not the place to unburden your prosaic self. In fact, sentences in the resume may not even resemble real sentences. The point of a resume is to keep your points short and your sentences shorter. Think of it metaphorically as beating a nail with a hammer. If you can swing hard enough to get that nail in with two swings instead of three, that's probably the way to go.
- You don't let somebody else read it - Find somebody you trust, somebody who knows you, and somebody who knows business or jobs or resume writing, and let them read your resume. Ask for as much constructive criticism as humanly possible. A resume is not a secret document. If you somehow fear that your feelings will be hurt if somebody tells you that your resume sucks, then you're doing something wrong. Don't be afraid to ask for help from somebody who might know something about it.
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