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How to totally screw up your Resume and lose job interviews


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So, you're about to start making or updating your resume so you can go find your dream job (or hey maybe, just ANY job...in credit crunch 2008 that might be the best you can do for now). I know that it can seem impossibly difficult but it's not that hard at all. However, it IS very easy to make a mess of it - And messed up resumes and CVs get "round filed" real fast (thrown in the bin) and round filed = no job interview. Yep, a poor resume means you stand 100% no chance. So you want to get it right - right?

Fear not. It's not that hard at all - once you know what to avoid - and that's what I'll tell you now.

So what are some of the classic errors that will screw your CV up?

John Doe - No contact information

Many people feel that because they're sending a cover letter, they don't need to include their name, address, phone number and email address at the top of their resume.

However it's very common for cover letters to be separated from resumes by HR departments who then pass the resume to various other staff members for review. At this stage your contact information is very likely to be lost forever! And I can tell you that it's very frustrating for a manager to receive a good resume that has all of the qualifications that he or she is looking for in an employee without a name or any contact information.

So - Very important - Include all of your contact information at the top of your resume. Name, address, phone, email.

What do you want to do? No objective

Large organizations may have dozens of ads for employees advertised. If your resume goes first to an HR admin person for filtering then how will he or she know what job you're applying for unless you state this in your resume as well as cover letter (again same dangers of lost cover letters apply so put it on the CV header too)

What do you want to achieve? No goals or ambition?

Not necessary in all cases. Use common sense. Under your name and contact information should be a heading about your career objective. You can break this into two categories. One should be for the position which you are seeking. The other can be what you hope to attain in the future.

If, for example, you are seeking the position of a newspaper reporter but have ambitions to be an editor or a features writer, then you can outline this in your resume as a career aim. This can be a handy indication that you're a long term strategic thinker as well as a loyal employee who is keen to develop new skills and add value to the business.

As I say use common sense. If applying to small companies it may not be wise to indicate that you want the job of the person who's recruiting you!

You don't have the right skills, goodbye! They're not psychic you know!

In any job no matter how junior there are skills required even if it's just a summer job selling ice cream on the beach (hey that's customer facing with a bit of sales you know!) Way too many CVs are thin on evidence of relevant skills.

Way to many people include all of their tasks in a short paragraph, which doesn't impress many prospective employers.

So don't understate your past experience: include all of the tasks you performed at your old job, or know how to do, that concern to the position which you are seeking.

It's good to list all of the tasks and knowledge in bullet point format so that it makes it easier for the employer to see just what you can do. This is not the time to be shy or modest. Highlighting your accomplishments, knowledge and past experience can not be too underestimated when it comes to your resume.

Got fired or saying my current job and company are rubbish - Writing why you left or are leaving

Not necessary at all and looked at unprofessional. You will most likely be asked why you left your prior employment during your interview. Don't badmouth your last place of employment, even if your boss was a reincarnation of the Devil! Just say that you are seeking an opportunity for new development.

I want, I want! Talking money right off the block

NEVER put down how much you are making at your current job or how much money you expect to pull in at the new job.

While some employers will ask that you state your salary qualifications in your cover letter, this is never acceptable on a CV.

Many employers who ask that prospective employees state their salary requirements in their cover letter tend to pay low wages and do not want to waste their time with anyone who expects to be paid enough money to make a living.

Your resume looks like a 5 year olds "art" project

For a 5 year old it's cute. For a resume it's death. Coloured paper, fancy fonts and pics may look really nice but is generally considered to be amateurish. Use white paper. Black ink. Standard fonts. Standard upper and lower caps and make it easy to read.

Uneducated barbarians need not apply

You didn't spring into existence from nowhere so make sure that you put down your educational experience from the last college or university that you attended to the first.

If you have a post graduate degree, that should come first under the Education heading, along with the degree and any awards.

Your undergraduate university or college should come second along with degrees and accomplishments. If you have a post grad degree you don't have to put down high school information - that's a given.

No autobiographies please!

Pages of life story filler are a sure way to get round filed fast. With that said, it's a context thing. Don't hesitate to make your CV more than one page if your accomplishments, experience and education warrants this in the context of the position applied for.

It's better not to underestimate yourself than to keep your resume short and sweet. On the other hand don't pout down long lists of hobbies, and non work related achievements, your junior schools, places lived in, travel done and so on. It's filler and recognised as such right away. Black mark.

Summary

So, avoid these clangers and you'll be well on your way to creating an interview magnet of a resume that will reflect all of the reasons why you are the best person for the job as well as a resume that reflects your personality.


From London where he was an expert job hopper Nick now lives in Stockholm with wife Lena and Gunnar a Border Terrier. He likes long forest and lake walks, is learning Swedish, sells on ebay and publishes career help websites like Best Career where you can find resume and interview help ideas and tips.







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