Resumés and Resumé Nots

April 8th, 2010 | Resume | No Comments »

So you’ve sent your resume out to hundreds of companies and still haven’t received a response. You have a great deal of experience, education, determination, and yet you’re left wondering why no one has taken interest. Perhaps it’s because your resume is sending out the wrong message. Your resume is your first impression to all potential employers and could very well be your ticket to that first phone call.

The main idea behind a resume is to present your accomplishments to help guide readers through your career. Basically, you’re painting a picture of what barriers you’ve hurdled over and where you want to go. The most important factor here, is that you keep it career oriented. You want to highlight your strengths to show that you can fix any potential employer’s challenges. However, knowing what to put on a resume doesn’t always shed light on what not to include.

Point number one: humor has no place on a professional resume. Though having a sense of humor is a terrific personality trait, odds are it will not land you that hundred thousand dollar a year dream job. I’ll admit, when I come across a resume with some type of humorous anecdote, it’s good for a laugh, but nine times out of ten it’ll just end up in the back drawer. When professionals are looking for professionals, they want just that: a professional.

Point number two: “career oriented” is different from “experience oriented”. Though flipping burgers at the local burger joint to pay your way through college was admirable, it probably won’t imply that you are able to design websites. Every professional experience you mention should cater to your desired profession, even if the position wasn’t specifically in the respective industry. In other words, highlight and stress the similarities between what you did and what you want to do. Doing this will show that not only are you capable of performing tasks related to your profession, but you are focused on moving forward.

Point number three: common sense is sometimes not common when it comes to an email address. If your email address is along the lines of “ibballin@aol.com” or “nvrliketowork@gmail.com,” it’s probably not a good idea to include them on your resume. The basic rule of thumb is to simply create an address that involves your actual name. It looks more professional and, to bring it full circle, continues to avoid being humorous in your professional resume.

Point number four: a resume is meant to be cliff notes-style, not novel length. Typically, when professionals are looking through resumes, they only glance at them for twenty to thirty seconds, trying to find a few key skills/traits. The longer the resume, the harder it is to find what they are looking for and the greater chance it has of being passed over. Ideally, a resume is no more than one to three pages. However, when contract work is involved, additional pages are more acceptable as long as the main points are still emphasized and the layout isn’t cluttered.

Point number five: High schools and GPA’s. Graduating high school is obviously important when trying to get into a university but in the professional world, not so much.  It is typically assumed that you graduated, especially if you have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree, and it should be left off a resume. As far as grade point averages go, all they do is group you into an educational hierarchy. This has the potential to put a negative light on you regardless of how high or low your GPA was. For instance, high GPA’s are great but might give the impression that you lived in a book and didn’t develop any social skills. On the other hand, if it’s a low GPA, it may appear that you had a greater ability to absorb alcohol rather than information. Either way, it’s best just to exclude it.

These five main points are a great starting point to adjusting your resume and positioning yourself to be successful. The trick is to be proactive and to always be adjusting minor details on your resume. Building a resume is a lot like building a blue print for a house; you know what the dream house will look like, you just have to show that you have the right pieces to build it.

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