4 Things To Keep Off Your Resume

resume, words to use
Looking for a job after military service? AOL Jobs is republishing some career stories to help veterans in their job hunt. This story is one of our best career advice stories.

Most employers will tell you that job seekers routinely make obvious, painful errors on their resumes that cost them the job. And while there are online tools that will help you avoid making some of these mistakes, such as punctuation errors, most tools won't catch these four major blunders.

Subjective Text:

When you fill your resume with lavish self-praise, like "dedicated self-starter," "exceptional communication skills," and "hard-working professional," you're just stating your own opinion. This kind of language is like nails on a chalkboard to recruiters. Why? You're not stating facts. Don't tell them how you see yourself. Prove it by listing quantifiable accomplishments. Let the recruiter decide if you're actually a self-starter.

Too Much Info:

Many people assume they should list everything they have ever done at every job. It makes them feel like they're proving they've got valuable experience. Well, in reality, it detracts from your core message and strengths. Information overload to a recruiter is not a way to stand out. It's actually the fastest way to get in the 'no' pile. That's because, when they see you've listed everything, they look for every single skill they need. And, if even one skill is missing, they assume you don't have it.

The better approach is to simplify the resume to list only the key skills you want to leverage. Then you will be implying that you have a lot more to offer -- but the recruiters need to contact you to find out. Less is more. If the hiring managers like what they see, they'll contact you for a phone screen to get more details. And that's exactly what you want the resume to do: Make the phone ring!

Weak Top-Fold:

The first third of our resume is known as the "top-fold" -- it's where the eye goes when someone sees your resume for the first time. Most studies say a hiring manager's mind is made up about the candidate within six to 13 seconds of reading the resume. Which means the top-fold is determining whether you even get considered for the job. Text-intensive top-folds that aren't well-formatted and don't present key skill sets lose the reader's attention. It's that simple.

Fancy Fonts:

Curly-tailed fonts (aka fancy fonts) are harder to read. That translates into the reader absorbing less of what's been written. When you use script fonts as a way to make your resume look "classier," you are only making it harder for the hiring manager to retain what you are all about. Skip the script font and go with something clean-lined, like Arial or Calibri. While that may look more basic, the hiring manager will at least take in more -- and that can lead to the phone call you want.

Keep in mind: Your resume is your marketing document. Paying attention to these minor details can help you get a better response to your marketing message. Which is: "I'm worth talking to about this job!"

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Some of this advice seems sophmoric at best. While I agree that subjective self evaluation has no place in a résumé (which by the way is the correct spelling of the word), the use of Arial or Calibri (or any other san serif font for that matter) on a paper document is an invitation to eye strain. The entire rationale for fonts with serifs is to make printed text more readable. Do yourself a favor and stick to a readable font like Garamond or even CG Times (but stay away from Times New Roman, as it is what every word processor defaults to and you don't need to be one of the crowd). How about more than scratching the surface Ms. O'Donnell?

December 24 2013 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Now I can't speak for every occupational field, but I've been told by people serving on hiring committees for two different colleges/universities that if applicants do NOT specifically state on their cover letter or resume that they have a skill or qualification listed on the job description, they are automatically disqualified or sent to a last-resort-if-we-can't-find-anyone-else file. New York State REQUIRES that. Those guidelines are published online.

Perhaps a recruiter isn't looking to be impressed by what you've done when trying to determine what you can for someone else. Though that seems counter intuitive to me.

October 26 2013 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bruce Charles Larson

As a 24 year Information Technology Professional I can confidently say that I am never out to impress a recruiter... I am out to elucidate my experience, skills, and qualifications for the hiring manager only.

Finding a recruiter that is as well informed about my industry and as professional as me is a rarity. Most do not know the difference between a network engineer, a network administrator, and a network designer/architect, or a systems architect.

In my 24 years of experience conservatively 98% of the recruiters I have ever dealt with have not been worth my time or effort... But there again recruiters have not been the de-facto method of obtaining employment for the majority of my career, and the best jobs I have had I found myself without any "agent". This is even more evident with off-shore recruiters.

October 22 2013 at 11:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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