More often than not, the company’s first impression of you comes in the form of a resume, a simple piece of paper that includes your entire work and educational history, typically on one to two pages. With such limited space to convey such important information, it pays to make sure you get it right the first time.
To meet this challenge, it’s important to keep in mind 10 of the most common resume mistakes. While avoiding these mistakes won’t automatically make you a shoo-in for the job of your choice, it will make sure you are on the right track.
Mistake #1: Writing your resume to sound like a series of job descriptions.
You need to give the reader an idea of what you have done throughout your career, but instead of focusing on the duties you were responsible for at your last jobs, list your accomplishments along with quantifiable facts to back up your claims. Saying you were responsible for a 10 percent growth in overall sales is more impressive than simply stating you managed a sales team.
Mistake #2: Writing in the first person.
Your resume is not a personal correspondence, and should not include words such as “I,” “my,” and “me.” Save the first person pronouns for your cover letter.
Mistake #3: Including unrelated and personal information.
As mentioned above, you do not have much room in a resume, so why take up valuable space with information unrelated to the position you are seeking? Leave the details about your personal life, marital status, hobbies and other interests on the cutting room floor.
Mistake #4: Using passive language or no action words.
Your resume needs to make a bold, strong statement, and the best way to do this is by utilizing action words to describe your accomplishments. Words like “coordinated,” “achieved,” “managed,” and “implemented” will spice up your resume and make it more interesting and relevant to the reader.
Mistake #5: Repetition.
While using action words is important, it is also key to make sure you have variety in your resume. Don’t pick a couple of words and stick with them throughout the entire document. Utilize a thesaurus, career advice Web sites and other sources if you are having problems coming up with new ways to say the same thing.
Mistake #6: Poor formatting or formatting that is too flashy.
While the most important part of your resume is the content, there is no question that the document’s overall look and feel is also important. By now, you should be comfortable enough with a word processing program to create a clean, polished-looking document. Use consistent formatting for headings and bullet points. In the same respect, steer clear of flashy formatting or overly creative resumes with unconventional fonts or graphics, unless you are seeking a highly creative position. Keep your resume simple, bold and professional.
Mistake #7: Sending a resume without a cover letter.
One of the worst things you can do is send a great resume without an official introduction. Resumes and cover letters should be inseparable. Make sure you don’t give up your chance to really sell yourself with a cover letter.
Mistake #8: Sending an unfocused or generic resume.
While your work experience doesn’t change depending on the job or industry you are targeting, your resume certainly should. If you are seeking a sales-related position, your resume will include details that are different from those that would be included in a resume for a management job. Make sure you write to what you are seeking and make it easy for the reader to see why you are a good fit.
Mistake #9: Including typos and other spelling or grammatical errors.
Before you send out your resume, make sure you have proofread it several times. Many hiring managers will automatically throw away a resume that has typos or other errors.
Mistake #10: Sending your resume to a nameless, faceless person.
Want your resume to get thrown out with the recycling bin? Just send it to the company’s “Hiring Manager,” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Do yourself a big favor and take the time to find a real person at the company who is responsible for hiring in the department you are targeting. This is often the first and most helpful step to getting your foot in the door.
- Be Prepared! Research the company thoroughly before the interview, prepare to answer tough questions, and be prepared to ask intelligent questions.
- Dress conservatively! Business Attire: Men – Suit, Tie, etc. Women – Equivalent Attire
- Avoid garlic, etc., even the night before the interview. Mouthwash or breath mint before the interview. Use deodorant and apply no strong cologne or perfumes.
- Arrive at the proper time– definitely not late, and not real early. Leave early enough that heavy traffic does not make you late. If you cut the time too close, you will arrive too tense.
- Be nice to the receptionist– they are sometimes asked for input on candidates attitudes.
- Shake hands firmly, and smile when introduced.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Verbally expand on the achievements listed on the resume, to show how you made money or cut costs for your previous employers.
- Be enthusiastic– show your interest in the position!!
- Bring extra resumes.
- Ask intelligent questions– not basic ones about the company. (If you did your pre-interview research on the company, you should know the basics.)
- You can take some notes, but do not let the note taking distract from the interview
- Ask during the interview for each person’s card, or write down their name (and position) if they did not have a card, so you can follow up later.
- Closing the Interview – Express your understanding of the position, your interest in it, and ask what is the next step. Smile, shake the interviewer’s hand and thank them for their time and consideration.
- If the company asks you for references, make sure to call the references to clear it with them, before they get a call from the company.
Showing enthusiasm is essential
Even if the opportunity does not seem to meet your expectations, every candidate should leave an interview conveying a strong desire, energy, and enthusiasm for the work. If the employer has other candidates, often the candidate who shows the most interest, desire, and drive will get the job. Or they may steer you toward another opportunity in the company for consideration.
Open the interview so that you create a positive first impression
Thank them for their time and mention your familiarity with the company from what you have learned on their website and articles. (You might want to refer to a specific article that you read about the company or a major initiative.) Go to Google or other search engines and seek out articles that mention the Employer.
Sell your strong points and strengthen your weaknesses
This is done by discussing accomplishments, providing details, and emphasizing the difficult challenges and how you overcame them. If you are asked questions around weaknesses, provide answers that will have little impact on the hiring decision. If you are interviewing for a senior level position, understand that employers are interested in candidates who work well in a matrixed organization. Describe your leadership approach and how you have motivated and driven change in your prior positions.
Thank the interviewers and ask for direct feedback on how the interviewer views your background fitting the opportunity. This offers you the opportunity to address any concerns while you are in front of the employer. You want the employer to perceive you as a confident, well rounded, take charge individual who, if given the opportunity will be successful in exceeding their expectations.
Interviewing Skills Guide
Be 15 minutes early. Leave extra time for the unexpected. Get your thoughts together, fill out application forms and observe the company surroundings and the employees.
Bring a fresh copy of your resume along with a portfolio pad holder and pen. Pad should contain key points you wish to convey to sell your self and pre-thought out questions.
Employers form 90% of their decision upon meeting candidates. Dress for success. Conservative suits or business dresses, plain hose, well shaped shoes, low-key makeup, jewelry and perfume. Hair should be neat. Firm handshake, pleasant demeanor and good eye contact. Project enthusiasm and energy. Do not smoke or chew gum.
Questions You Might Be Asked By The Employer:
Why are you leaving your current position? (Don’t “bad mouth” previous employers and don’t sound too opportunistic).
Why would you want to work for this company? (Do some research on the background of the company, being prepared and knowledgeable pleases the interviewer).
Why do you believe you are qualified for this position? (Pick two or three main factors about the job and about you that are most relevant. Select a technical skill, a specific management skill such as organizing, staffing or planning and a personal success story to mention).
Why should we hire you for this position? (Relate to specific attributes and accomplishments. Demonstrate a thoughtful, organized, strong kind of attitude).
What are your 4 greatest strengths? (Be able to discuss each with a specific example. Select those attributes which are most compatible with the job opening).
What are your areas of weakness? (Discuss tolerable flaws that you are working towards improving. Show how weakness can be turned into strength. For example, how concentration on details, result in higher quality of work even though it requires much overtime).
What are the 3 or 4 greatest accomplishments in your life that you should be proud of? (Give 3 relative to your career and 1 relating to your life).
What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years from now? (“I see myself with the same company in five years. I hope to have received new responsibilities and have become more of an asset to the company”).
Questions To Ask The Employer:
What are the 3 or 4 qualifications that the ideal candidate should possess?
What are the strengths you have found in the most successful employees that you have employed with your company?
What challenges are facing this department now? Or, what are the top priorities of this position?
What would a typical day be like?
Getting Ready For The Job Interview:
A job interview is like a game. It has rules, and the participants have roles to play. What you can win is an offer. What the interviewer can win is the proper person for the job.
Your role as the interviewee is to play the confident applicant who can project talent, willingness and suitability for the opening. If you have done your homework, you have no problem.
What To Do:
Spend the morning in the library researching the company, or talk to friends who know similar organizations.
Interview yourself on a tape recorder until you hear confidence in your answers to questions. Or, role play with friends or family members.
Prepare positive answers to potentially difficult queries like “I’m a little worried about your lack of experience….” Or, “You’ve been out of work a long time, haven’t you?”
Interviews Play One Of The General Roles:
The target-directed interviewer is direct, business-like and a little impersonal. Respond in kind.
The all-in-the-family interviewer is warm, friendly and company oriented. Emphasize your team player attitude.
The thinking person’s interviewer is interested in how you did things or intend to do things. Give logical, expanded answers about the methods and theories.
The make-it-easy-for-me interviewer is unpredictable and prone to snap judgments. Be a responsive audience and let the interviewer keep the center stage.
Guidelines for salary negotiations when job discussions get down to the nitty-gritty:
My consultant at RRG informed me of the salary range, I am comfortable that they will handle negotiations for me.
Try not specifying a figure (It will inevitably be lowered). Get the other person to mention one first, even a salary range (Always a range).
Evade the question If you are asked what you made at your last job, say “That salary is not especially relevant because the job I was doing was very different from what I’ll be doing now.
Establish the value of benefits before agreeing on a salary figure.
If Questions Of Money Arise:
Never give a money amount – stay neutral.
I am currently earning (___Salary Range__), and I’m sure you’ll make me a fair offer.
What I’m looking for is a good opportunity where I can bring # year(s) of excellent support skills.
I would hope that you would make me a fair offer that’s competitive in this market and based on the skills I bring to the position.
Ask For The Job:
All things being equal, people hire people who want to work for them. You could close with….
What would you like to see me accomplish in the next 30, 60 or 90 days?
What project would I be working on first?
Is there anything in my background that would prevent me from doing this job to your expectations?
Do my skills fit what you are looking for? (Anticipate response and change to handle an objection).
Mr. /Ms. , Thank you for the time you have spent with me. I know I can handle the job and make a contribution to your company. I’m very excited about this opportunity. Is there any area I fall short on your requirements? (If so, address the issue).
Then, “What is the next step?’
Call your consultant at the Recruiting Resource Group immediately.
GOOD LUCK AND SEND A FOLLOWUP THANK YOU NOTE.
Questions you may face in an interview
- What are your goals?
- Why did you leave your last jobs? (do not be negative)
- Why are you considering a job change?
- What do you know about our company?
- What attracted you to this position?
- What would you and your background bring to this position? What contributions could you make on this specific job?
- What parts of your current job do you find most/least satisfying?
- Do you prefer working by yourself, or with others?
- What would you say has been your proudest accomplishment(s) so far?
- What has been your greatest disappointment?
- What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held?
What have you learned from your mistakes?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? (Technically and otherwise)
- What qualifications do you have that will make you successful in this position? (Be prepared to mention the qualifications even if not directly asked)
- In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
- How do you handle deadlines?
- Do you handle stress well?
- What have you done on the job which shows initiative and willingness to work?
- What are your short/long-range goals? Where would you like to be in 5 years?
- Why should we hire you instead of someone else?