Hiring managers share most memorable résumé mistakes

Any human-resources professional or career expert will tell you that résumé customization is key to standing out in a job search. They’ll also stress the importance of including information about your background and skills that might spark the hiring manager’s curiosity and make her want to take a second look. However, they’re unlikely to recommend divulging such personal information as your ties to the mob, your genius status or your glory days as homecoming prom prince.
While you might think that’s stating the obvious, you’d be surprised to find what lengths job seekers will go to in order to catch an employer’s attention.
CareerBuilder asked hiring managers to share the most memorable and unusual job applications that have crossed their desk. Answers included:
  • Candidate called himself a genius and invited the hiring manager to interview him at his apartment.
  • Candidate’s cover letter talked about her family being in the mob.
  • Candidate applying for a management job listed “gator hunting” as a skill.
  • Candidate specified that her résumé was set up to be sung to the tune of “The Brady Bunch.”
  • Candidate highlighted the fact that he was “homecoming prom prince” in 1984.
  • Candidate claimed to be able to speak “Antartican” when applying for a job to work in Antarctica.
  • Candidate’s résumé was decorated with pink rabbits.
  • Candidate listed “to make dough” as the résumé’s objective.
  • Candidate applying for an accounting job said he was “deetail-oriented” and spelled the company’s name incorrectly.
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When creativity works
While some job seekers may take their creativity too far, you can still find ways to infuse originality into your job search. Just make sure that any creativity you integrate into your résumé is applicable to the type of job you’re applying for and aligns with the prospective company’s culture.
Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, says that given today’s highly competitive job market, job seekers need to clearly demonstrate how their skills and experience are relevant to the employer. “We see more people using infographics, QR codes and visual résumés to package their information in new and interesting ways,” Haefner says.
Here are some examples of candidates that tried the creative approach, made a positive impression and were ultimately hired:
  • Candidate sent his résumé in the form of an oversized Rubik’s Cube, where you had to push the tiles around to align the résumé. He was hired. 
  • Candidate who had been a stay-at-home mom listed her skills as nursing, housekeeping, chef, teacher, bio-hazard cleanup, fight referee, taxi driver, secretary, tailor, personal shopping assistant and therapist. She was hired.
  • Candidate created a marketing brochure promoting herself as the best candidate and was hired.
  • Candidate listed accomplishments and lessons learned from each position. He gave examples of good customer service as well as situations he wished he would have handled differently. He was hired.
  • Candidate applying for a food and beverage management position sent a résumé in the form of a fine-dining menu and was hired. 
Mistakes to avoid
According to the survey, there are certain guaranteed deal breakers when it comes to the style, format and content of a résumé. When asked what would make them automatically dismiss a candidate from consideration, employers’ top responses included résumés with typos (61 percent), résumés that copied large amounts of wording from the job posting (41 percent) and résumés with an inappropriate email address (35 percent).
Other responses included:
  • Résumés that don’t include a list of skills — 30 percent
  • Résumés that are more than two pages long — 22 percent
  • Résumés printed on decorative paper — 20 percent
  • Résumés that detail more tasks than results for previous positions — 16 percent
  • Résumés that include a photo — 13 percent
  • Résumés that have large blocks of text with little white space — 13 percent

Is it time to refresh your résumé?

If you just bought new, expensive résumé paper, you’ve already made a job-search mistake. Most job applications and résumés are submitted online now–one of countless new trends in the modern hiring process. Many job seekers are using outdated job-search practices, risking the impression that they are unable to keep up with technology.
Are you worried that your résumé is going stale? Read on to determine if it’s time to refresh your résumé.

Contact information
This first section needs to include your name, address, email and phone number, as well as any links to portfolios or websites. Any links that you do include should be checked to make sure they work, and only include links to sites that you regularly update. Also be sure to include a professional email address, and ditch the inappropriate “OMGlove2party” email, which sounds unprofessional.

Summary of qualifications
This section is the best place to include keywords taken from the job description, since most hiring companies utilize applicant-tracking systems to narrow down possible candidates. However, be sure to incorporate keywords throughout the résumé, and don’t copy and paste the job description.
Another tip is to place the most relevant and interesting experience at the top. Most hiring managers only skim résumés, and leading with strong qualifications can be a good attention-getter. Also be sure to remove any overly personal information. Old job applications used to inquire about marital status, family members and sometimes religious affiliation. Not only is that information illegal to ask now, it’s irrelevant to most positions. Keep your résumé clean, professional and focused.

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Career achievements/skills
In 2012, “career objectives” are a rarity. Instead of wasting valuable paper space, include a professional summary in your cover letter and apply it to the position you’re vying for and how it fits into your career plan. Reserve the career achievements/skills section for descriptions of honors or promotions, as well as performance-review quotes that cite strengths and quantifiable information. When referring to past accomplishments and roles, use the past tense. Only current jobs and projects should be written in present tense. Also size up your résumé and determine if you’re including more tasks than results for previous positions. Hiring managers are looking for candidates that can meet daily expectations as well as go above and beyond, which means that including any professional associations and awards is a résumé boost.

Professional experience
Only list relevant jobs, not every part-time gig you held over the past 20 years. If you’re not sure if you should include a job, ask if it’s relevant to this position and to your current career goals. For the employers you do list, make sure to include details on tasks you’re responsible for, as well as the company’s industry — there are 7.5 million companies in the U.S., and most of us don’t know what they do. If you have a gap in your history because of family obligations, “homemaker sabbatical” will sufficiently explain a work hiatus and allow the interviewer to focus on your work accomplishments.

Education and training
Include alma mater details here, as well as any other training, certifications and accomplishments that are relevant to your position. This section doesn’t need to list past courses taken. Unless you’re currently in school and applying for your first full-time position or internship, you most likely don’t need to include your GPA.

Unless the job posting specifically asks for references, don’t include any on your actual résumé. The line, “references available upon request,” is also unnecessary. If you get asked in for an interview, you may want to have a list of references prepared in advance, but keep your contacts to yourself before that step.

Other tips

  • Design your résumé with a focus. Every detail should support the idea that you’re the best candidate for the position.
  • Use specific, concrete language that measures your accomplishments.
  • Remove overused words, such as “outstanding, effective, strong, exceptional, good, excellent, driven, motivated, seasoned or energetic.” Beware of unsupported claims of greatness.
  • Don’t include a photo.
  • Résumés should be no more than two pages, but most candidates will be better off with one page. Most hiring managers only glance over résumés, so be conscious of space, and organize the layout with a balance of white space and text –avoid large blocks of text.
  • Go through drafts of your résumé before you settle on one that works and then have several friends or family members proofread it. There should be no typos or formatting errors. Aim for a résumé that is clean, refreshing and simple and that can be submitted online easily.

Don’t have much experience? Here’s how to boost your résumé

By Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder Writer

Dont have much experienceIt’s one of the most frustrating experiences any job seeker faces: After a rigorous search, you’ve found a job that you’re really excited about, where you’ll work on interesting things with like-minded people and in a great location. The catch? The job requires experience, often more than a recent college graduate has under his belt. As disheartening as this situation is, it isn’t necessarily the end of the line.

Here are some ways you can boost your résumé to help you secure your dream job.

Become an intern
Many colleges and universities require students to complete an internship prior to graduation. This might lead some to believe that internships are only for students, which is untrue. Some internship programs do require that their interns receive class credit, but those are typically unpaid and rely on the class credits as compensation. Many paid internships have no student-status requirements or age limitations. Internships offer excellent experience and networking opportunities, and they can often lead to a full-time job offer.

Experience doesn’t have to come from the private sector. While volunteer work is mainly associated with altruism, there’s no reason you can’t benefit your career by volunteering your time as well. Doing nonprofit work that is associated with your education and your desired job is a great way to hone your skills, gain real-world experience and help others in the process. Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer their time as well, which is a great opportunity for you to network with professionals and show how you’d fit in with the corporate culture.

Keep learning
Just because you’ve graduated, it doesn’t mean that you’re done learning. One question employers commonly ask in a job interview is how you’ve been spending your time since graduation. Telling them you’ve been sleeping late and filling out the occasional application isn’t going to make you stand out. However, talking about continuing-education classes or industry-related seminars you’ve attended, and discussing how they relate to the position, will likely make a lasting impression.
Strengthen your cover letter
The cover letter is your opportunity to explain to an employer how your experience measures up to the company’s needs. Highlight similarities between work you’ve done in the past and the work that will be required in the open position. Smart employers don’t make their hiring decisions based on years of experience alone. This is your chance to sell them on why your specific experiences make you uniquely suited for the job.

Focus resume on your results, not daily tasks

By Ramsey Penegar
What seems more interesting: a laundry list of all the menial daily tasks and functions you performed at each and every job OR well-written, action statements illustrating the impact of your accomplishments?
For example, a receptionist or executive assistant résumé may state ”I answered the phones” OR “Monitored and managed more than 1,500 weekly telephone calls from customers, vendors, media, and contractors for 750 staff members for largest architectural firm in New Jersey.”

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An example for a sales manager may be: ”Hired, managed, and trained sales representatives” OR ”Recruited, hired, managed, mentored, and motivated more than 120 sales representatives to develop customer service and sales skills resulting in more than $1.5 million in sales revenue.”
An interview-landing résumé doesn’t just tell what you did or know how to do (task-oriented), it illustrates how well you did those things (accomplishment oriented). Recruiters and hiring managers want to know and see hardcore facts, figures, numbers. This type of information should be indicative of your entire career, not just job by job.
From your résumé, the hiring manager already has a general idea of the tasks and responsibilities involved in the jobs you have held. What he or she wants to know is how your skills and experience impacted the bottom line for the company. The recruiting manager wants to know what the job seeker has done to enhance operations, boost revenues, bolster profits, decrease operating costs, improve business processes, save time, increase productivity, and or advance technologies.
An accomplishment oriented résumé is what sells the reader on your personal and professional value. Rather than a laundry list of daily duties, functions, and job responsibilities, this type of résumé demonstrates, in writing, how your expertise in doing those tasks benefited the company.
An easy formula for this is AARQ (“Ark”):
  • Action – What was the action you took or initiated to make a difference in results?
  • Accomplishments & Results – What did your actions accomplish at the end of the project, year, etc?
  • Quantify – Now incorporate the numbers and statistics into your story by quantifying the resulting impact on the company
Here’s an example from a recent client:
  • What action did you take? Managed revenue budget.
  • What was the result of this action? Exceeded revenue goals and increased revenue.
  • Can you quantify the action or result? Managed $77 million revenue budget, exceeded revenue goals, increased revenue by 38%
You then take all of that and put it on your résumé as such:
  • Managed $77 million revenue budget for third party marketing products, continually exceeded revenue goals, and steered 38% revenue growth.
It can be really easy to bolster your résumé by turning your tasks into bottom-line driven, powerful achievements that will catch the reader’s attention. A company is concerned with their bottom line so speak their language and illustrate your experience as it relates to them. Use your résumé as a tool to convey your value to the prospective employing company and expect more interviews in the future.
Did you know that CareerBuilder offers résumé writing services and résumé upgrade opportunities?

Source: careerbuilder

6 things you should probably remove from your résumé

In an age of Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare, we’ve gotten used to broadcasting any and all information about ourselves. But when it comes to your résumé, it might be best to take a cue from architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who coined the phrase, “Less is more.”

Today’s guest blogger, Catherine Jewell, tells job seekers to follow this advice when writing their résumés. Jewell is the Career Passion® Coach and author of “New Resume, New Career,” a résumé makeover book featuring 50 real-life career changers. Here are six things she says you should leave off your résumé.

What to leave out of your résumé:
by Catherine Jewell, author of “New Résumé, New Career” 
Once upon a time in the ’70s, I saw a résumé with a full-length photo. It was for a vibrant, 20-something account executive in advertising. I envied her the chutzpah to include her photo. It made the résumé come alive. You could see her eagerness and professional demeanor.
That was then. So much has changed. Employers want to avoid any chance of discrimination about age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital and parental status, and ethnicity.  The less you say on the résumé, the more likely you make the cut. Each word, phrase and sentence needs to be carefully selected to prove that you are the right person for the job. Specifically, here are some things to take off your résumé:

1. Graduation dates
Include your degree, major (if it is relevant) and the institution. But take off the date. Age discrimination is a concern for many people looking for work. Avoid tempting reviewers to do the math to discover your age.

2. Irrelevant experience
If you are applying for sales and you have substantial experience in IT project management, downplay the irrelevant experience and create new achievement statements that support your experience with customers. Make your non-sales experience sound more like sales. Shorten job entries that don’t support your sales message.

3. Jobs in the dim, dark past
The rule of thumb is to include your last 10 to 15 years of experience. If you need to prove expertise you gained long ago, you might use the title “Other Relevant Experience” and describe your achievements, without the dates of employment. Baby boomers should be careful not to include 30 years of experience. Why give hiring managers a clue you are over 50 until they meet you in person?

4. Personal section
Résumés of the past often included personal information such as marital status, family members and even church membership. All of that information is illegal to collect, so don’t include it. Also eliminate references to hobbies, clubs and political views. A “Community Work” section can show your leadership skills, but stick with noncontroversial organizations such as Rotary, Lions, the Chamber of Commerce and recognized  nonprofits.

5. Gaps in history
Eliminate gaps in your work history by filling in with short, truthful statements. “Homemaker sabbatical” will explain a five-year work hiatus and allow the interviewer to focus on your history. You can also fill gaps with part-time jobs, direct sales positions or consulting projects.

6. Photos
These may not be on your résumé, but once a potential employer has your full name they might as well be. Polish all social networking profiles and remove any unprofessional or embarrassing photos. Ask your friends to clean up social networking profiles for you, too. If you are gray or balding, you might consider removing your photo during your job search.
Your résumé is designed to present the professional you. Write it with a job description in mind, avoiding any details that might detract from your single-minded pursuit of that job.

Five Tips for Better Resume Writing

First the good news. You do not have to be William Shakespeare to compose a solid, well-organized, professional-looking resume. All you need are the ability to express your ideas in proper English and an understanding of how a resume should be organized and written.

Being able to handle the basics of English — grammar, spelling, punctuation, proper word usage, and so forth — has become a critical skill in today's e-mail and facsimile-driven business environment. If you lack confidence in your ability to use English properly, think about enrolling in a writing workshop or community college course. Also, get the classic book The Elements of Style, 3rd Edition, by William Strunk and E. B. White (Allyn & Bacon, 1995).

Now the bad news. You can forget most of the rules and principles you were taught when you were writing reports and term papers in high school or college. Those principles simply do not apply to resumes. Resumes are business documents. They follow certain conventions that business people take for granted but that most English teachers would consider incorrect.

Following are five simple writing principles that apply specifically to resumes. All of them should come in handy when you begin to string words together in your resume, particularly when the time comes to describe your work history.

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Avoid the first person pronoun

The pronoun I has no place in a resume — and for a logical reason: Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?
Instead of this:
I demonstrated professionalism, tact, and diplomacy while I worked with our customers in high-pressure situations.
Write this:
Demonstrated professionalism, tact, and diplomacy while working with customers in high-pressure situations.
Instead of this:
I managed a department whose chief responsibility was to oversee safety audits. I wrote all audit reports and conducted management briefings.
Write this:
Managed a department whose chief responsibility was to oversee safety audits. Wrote audit reports and conducted management briefings.

Notice that the second version of each example begins with an action verb. Beginning most of your sentences with action verbs may not have been standard practice when you were writing term papers, but this practice is accepted and recommended in resumes.

Keep your sentences short and don't worry about fragments

Resumes call for short, crisp statements. These statements do not necessarily have to be complete sentences; you can frequently leave out the articles a, an, and the.
Instead of this:
Spent three years working on major accounts, as both a lead generator and a closer, demonstrating proven skill in organizing and managing a territory with efficiency as well as in developing customer databases.
Write this:
Spent three years working on major accounts. Generated leads and closed sales. Demonstrated proven skill in organizing and managing a territory and in developing customer databases.
Instead of this:
I was involved in the creation and implementation of statistical reports for a large metropolitan hospital, which required the use of spreadsheet software for cost analysis and, in addition, the creation of a database to track patient visits.
Write this:
Created and implemented statistical reports for large metropolitan hospital. Analyzed costs with spreadsheet software. Created database to track patient visits.
Or try a bulleted format: 
  • Created and implemented statistical reports for large metropolitan hospital. 
  • Analyzed costs with spreadsheet software. 
  • Created database to track patient visits.

Use plain English

Don't be victimized by the myth that the bigger the word you use, the more impressed the reader will be with your intelligence. Keep things simple. Go easy on the adjectives. And be especially wary of those grammatical constructions known as nominalizations — that is, nouns that are built around verbs and become part of a bulky phrase that can just as easily be expressed in a single word. See the examples in Table 1.
Table 1 Using Plain English
Bulky Phrase Better
Effected the solution of Solved
Engaged in the operation of Operated
Offered assistance in the facilitation of Helped facilitate

Use bullet statements when appropriate

You usually have a choice when you are writing your resume to combine a series of related statements into a single paragraph or to list each sentence in that paragraph as a separate statement, each occupying its own line. There are pros and cons for each option, and sometimes you have to base your decision on the amount of information you need to get across.
Bulleted information is more readable and tends to stand out more than the same information contained within a paragraph. But bulleted information also takes up more room. Your best bet is to combine the two.

If you decide to express information in bulleted style, keep the bulleted items brief and pay attention to parallelism. That is, try to make all the items in a sequence adhere to a similar grammatical pattern.

Examples of nonparallel statements include 
  • Reconcile all statements for cardholders 
  • Purchases are approved 
  • Have experience in performing training of tellers

Examples of parallel statements include 
  • Reconcile statements 
  • Approve purchases for Marketing department 
  • Train tellers

Go from general to specific

Sequence the information in a section by beginning with a general statement and following it with more specific ones.
Instead of this:
Supervised training of seven toy-making elves. Responsible for all toy-making and customer-related activities in Santa's workshop. Answered customer complaints during peak season. (Note that the second of these two sentences is more general than the first.)
Write this:
Responsible for all toy-making and customer-related activities in Santa's workshop. Supervised training of seven toy-making elves. Answered customer complaints during peak season.