February 05, 2013 Category : Careers & Training
#1 Use of an “Objective” statement
Let me tell you why I hate when students put an “Objective” on their resume. If I am hiring for a job and you send me your resume, the only objective I even want to consider is that you want the job that I am posting. What else would I care about? Is the fact that your objective is to get a job in “consulting” going to make me look more favorably upon your candidacy? The only objective statement that would ever make a difference to me is if you said “My objective since I was in elementary school has been to work for your company”. That might resonate…but it’s probably not true.
#2 Spelling mistakes
In a nutshell, you can’t have ANY spelling mistakes on your resume. If there is a word you are not sure of , but you think it is right, LOOK IT UP! A spelling mistake on a one page document that represents why I should hire you is a non-starter. It demonstrates an extraordinary lack of attention to detail. If you can’t make your resume mistake free, then how can I expect the work you produce for me to be mistake free. Use spell check. Go through your resume slowly, word-by-word. Have two or more friends proofread it. It is that important.
#3 Silly formatting errors
Formatting errors bother me more that spelling mistakes. I just don’t see how someone can look at their resume with the dates misaligned and not fix it. Not only does it illustrate poor attention to detail, it screams “I am lazy. Don’t hire me because I basically don’t give a damn”. Inconsistent fonts, misaligned text, and other similar formatting issues are easy to recognize and correct. Just take a second and look at your resume! There are more subtle formatting issues that bother me but are not representative of laziness. These are the omission of certain formatting tools that enhance the readability of your resume. The Microsoft Gods have given us italics, bold and bullet points so that we can highlight elements of text to make them more readable. USE them! Let me be clear. It is ALWAYS easier to read bulleted text then a paragraph of text (perhaps I should have written this article using bullets). You should ALWAYS put the names of the schools you attended or companies for which you have worked in bold or all caps.
#4 Crowding resume with too many redundant experiences & awards
This is a common problem that I find on undergraduate resumes. Your resume should highlight very specific strengths in 7 distinct areas, which we call the 7 Elements of a Good Story. It should reinforce those strengths with specific examples of how they have manifest themselves in your personal, academic and professional experiences. HOWEVER, you don’t need 50 examples to reinforce them! I don’t need to know that you won 5 math awards in high school to get the point that you are a good math student. Your SAT scores, a high level college math course and a single math award will convey that just as strongly. Students do this, because they don’t give much thought to what strengths they are trying to emphasize. Take time to categorize your experiences and rank them in terms of impact on the reader. Then select the 3 highest ranked examples.
#5 Poor organization
It is amazing that so many resumes are so poorly organized, when there are countless resume templates available. It is almost as if people think they get creative points for their resume looking different. In reality, you lose points for your resume looking different. When I look at a resume, I want to get to the content as quickly as possible. The more you make me work to find the information that I am looking for, the higher the probability that I will throw your resume in the “Do Not Resuscitate” pile (i.e. the trash bin). There is certainly no single correct structure for a resume. However, there are structures that absolutely do not work. Don’t take the risk of your resume being one of those. Use an existing template that has been pre-approved. Below is a simple template that works for me. USE IT!
Undergraduate Resume Template
#6 Poor description of professional experiences
90% of resumes that we review have this problem. In most cases, the individual does not appear to recognize that a resume is NOT a list of job responsibilities. Your resume is an articulation of what makes you the most attractive candidate. Take a look at the bullet points below. Would these statements make you want to hire Person A?
Directed customers to particular items
Processed weekly payroll
Acquired oral and written presentation skills through preparation for and participation in client meetings.
Calculated monthly cash requirements for subsidiary businesses
Sure, you might hire Person A, if he were the only applicant, but would you hire Person A over Person B?
Developed merchandising strategy to direct customers to higher margin products that increased average daily store revenue by 9% and average sales per customer by 12%
Processed payroll using Great Plains accounting software for over 500 employees across three corporate divisions
Prepared and presented weekly Powerpoint presentation highlighting interest rate movement in major international markets to traders on Interest Rate Swap desk
Consolidated monthly financial performance of each subsidiary into Excel spreadsheet. Calculated liquidity ratios including days receivable and quick ratio and determined month cash requirements.
Same person….Same experiences….Different articulation….Enough said.