WGN Jobs for You: How to avoid top resume mistakes

Careerbuilder.com reveals the top ways to destroy your resume:  Do you know that an employer will spend less than 30 seconds on average when initially reviewing your resume?  Do you know that there are certain things on your resume that could instantly kill your chances of being considered?

While presenting your skills and experience in a concise and engaging way is easier said than done, avoiding key resume pitfalls can help you get a leg up on the competition. Here are four reasons why employers aren’t calling you and how to get around them.

1)    Your resume sounds cliché. Job seekers tend to use terms that have been historically popular, terms that are part of the typical corporate vernacular – and what can happen when you do that is your resume ends up sounding like everyone else’s.

In a new CareerBuilder study released this week, employers cited the worst terms to use in a resume.  Some examples:
•    Best of breed
•    Go-getter
•    Synergy
•    Dynamic
•    Proactively
•    Think outside of the box

These are all terms don’t really tell the employer anything.  Forget the fluff and focus on substance.

2)    Your resume is boring.  A passive voice, dull word choices or laundry lists of tasks can lull an employer to sleep.

Employers are looking for strong power verbs.  Your resume should almost read like a series of headlines to get the employer excited about you as a candidate.   “Influential Sales Expert Who Sells $1 million in Products Annually” sounds better than “I sold products for this company”

3)    Your resume is one big paragraph.  Some job seekers still operate under the assumption that you need to fit your entire resume on one page.  Cramming years of experience into one page can result in small margins, illegible type size and a block of text that an employer is not likely to read.

White space is your friend.  For experienced workers, employers expect to see a two page resume.  Use a clean format that is easy to read – 10 to 12 point font size, traditional fonts, bullets to call out important points.

On the flip side, you don’t want your resume to read like a novel either.  Unless you’re a CEO or doctor or academic, you should try to keep your resume to two pages.

4)    Your resume is all about you, not them.  Some job seekers make the mistake of speaking entirely in the first person, focusing on how the job will benefit them and including personal information that is not relevant to the job.

Your resume needs to be focused on what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.  If you want to include extracurricular information that helps to show how well-rounded you are as a candidate, that’s ok but be mindful of your choices.  Including industry awards, volunteering activities, etc can be helpful.  Including the fact that you own five cats may not.

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