7 deadly sins of résumé writing

Steve P. Brady, freelancer

Despite the fact that there are numerous how-to articles out there, résumés are not easy to write. They require time, talent and patience in order to craft them into targeted advertisements for your most precious commodity: you.
You don't want this document that you have been poring over for days to fall victim to the seven deadly sins of résumé writing. Be vigilant and double check before you send your résumé to any potential employers.
Deadly sin No. 1: Typos
This is a no-brainer, but it is still one of the most common mistakes on a job seeker's résumé. Double and triple check, and then have someone else proofread it for you. This is the easiest of the seven to fix as long as you read carefully.
Deadly sin No. 2: Faulty formatting
Today's word-processing software allows for just about anyone to become a publishing wizard. You can add shadings, graphics, artistic fonts and stylistic flourishes. Don't.
Above all else, you want your résumé to be readable. Keep the fancy formatting to a minimum and place a priority on scannablility. Email it to a friend to ensure that the formatting you do keep is not lost.
Deadly sin No. 3: Irrelevant job experience
Everyone is proud of their professional life, and rightfully so. However, there comes a time when you have to be ruthless with your past and cut out anything that strays from the branded image you are trying to create with your résumé.
A general rule of thumb is to stick with the most recent 15 years of experience. For instance, if you are going for an upper level management position, you certainly do not need to include your time in the sales department 20 years ago when you first got out of college.
Deadly sin No. 4: Weak word choice
Banish words such as 'helped," "provided" and "worked" from your résumé vocabulary. Only use strong, active verb phrases that point toward dynamic action. You want employers to view you as a problem solver, not as a "doer."
Deadly sin No. 5: Boring bullets
Many times when a candidate sends in his résumé, the work history reads as if it was taken from his job description. In fact, that is what a lot of inexperienced résumé writers do. If you are one of them, don't worry, it is a common mistake, but it needs to be fixed.
Instead of just listing what your job requires of you, focus on what you have been able to accomplish. Sales numbers, quotas reached, budgets balanced and clients signed are all items that will make you stand out rather than blend in. Remember the key is to sell yourself.
Deadly sin No. 6: Not including a branding statement
The résumé objective is dead, but long live the branding statement. This is the first section of your résumé after the heading where you can create a dynamic headline and description of your own personal area of expertise. This will frame the rest of the résumé for the reader so that she sees your experience in light of your specialty.

Deadly sin No. 7: Length
There is a lot of conflicting advice as to how long a résumé should be. Here is the standard. A résumé should contain one page for every 10 years of experience in a given field. More often than not, this guideline works.

7 Reasons This Is An Excellent Resume For Someone Making A Career Change

Emphasize the skills relevant to your new career track

Close-up Of Young Businesswoman Reading Resume At Desk

By Jacquelyn Smith and Skye Gould

Writing a resume can be a daunting task. And if you're changing careers or industries, it's even more challenging.

"When you're attempting to change careers, you're often going up against many other candidates who possess a more traditional (and regularly accepted) work history for the role or industry you're targeting," says Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals. "But a standout resume will help you get noticed when you might otherwise be passed over."

In order to create an eye-catching resume that'll help you stand out from the competition, you'll have to look at all your experience and accolades in a different light, she says. "You must evaluate your experience, education, and professional development and skills to determine what's considered important for your new career, and then you'll have to re-position or re-brand yourself."

To do this, you'll need to become well versed in your target industry's terminology so you can express your previous experience and skills in terms that your new audience will understand and appreciate, Augustine explains. "That can take a lot of effort on the part of the job seeker; it may even require you to speak with people who work in your target field - which you should be doing anyway - to learn which of your skills are transferable and most prized."

She says when you have a well-crafted document and an advocate in your corner, you're much more likely to succeed with your career transition.

To get a clearer picture of what makes a resume stand out, we asked Augustine to create a sample of an excellent one for a professional changing careers.

While your resume may look different depending on the job or industry you're targeting, the one below from someone hoping to transition from HR to sales should serve as a useful guide:

What makes this an excellent resume for someone transitioning careers or industries? Augustine outlines the following reasons:

1. The job seeker's new career objective is clear.
If you want to change careers, it's best to have your new job goal well-defined, as this will dictate how you reposition your experience and which qualifications you decide to highlight in your new resume, Augustine says.

2. This resume focuses on the skills, achievements, and qualifications that are most relevant to the job seeker's new career track.
"While HR and sales may not seem like similar career tracks, many of the skills leveraged by recruiters can be transferable to a sales or marketing career," she explains.

It's important to identify which of your skill sets are valuable to another field, and in what capacity. "I can rattle off a list of common skills that are easily transferable to a variety industries and functions - problem-solving, strategic thinking, strong written or oral communication, people management, innovation, negotiation, etc. - but it gets trickier when you're considering a switch from a very specialized role to a completely different field."

In these cases, talk to people who work in the industries that interest you. Once they have a good understanding of your background and strengths, they'll be able to provide insight into which roles in their field might be relevant to you.

3. This resume sells what the job seeker has to offer.
"Hazel" is a technical recruiter seeking a position selling recruiting software to corporations, so her extensive knowledge of the recruitment process and her experience using and training others on various social recruiting platforms and applicant tracking systems work is emphasized in her professional summary and highlighted throughout the rest of her resume.

4. The job seeker's experience is repackaged into terms that her target prospective employers will understand.
"Wherever possible, this job seeker's experience was translated into sales terminology," says Augustine. "For example, the terms 'clients' or 'internal clients' were used to describe the hiring managers. Candidates were turned into prospects or potential leads. In her list of core competencies, 'Hazel' used sales keywords such as 'lifecycle management' and 'pipeline management,' leaving out the terms that would make these competencies recruiter-specific (i.e. 'recruitment process lifecycle' and 'candidate pipeline')."

Every field has its own acronyms and terminology. It's your job to figure out how to translate your experience and past successes into terms that resonate with your new target audience. Subscribe to industry-specific publications, conduct informational interviews, and start attending events that are relevant to your target field to gain this insight, and update your resume accordingly.

5. This resume is concise and only includes relevant information.
Even though the job seeker has over six years of experience and has worked in at least three positions, her resume is only one page long. "Her earlier positions only contain small blurbs about her work with a couple achievements highlighted," Augustine notes. "Rather than listing out a laundry list of your skills and experience, carefully select the accomplishments and responsibilities that will support your current career objectives."

6. The job seeker's major contributions and achievements are quantified.
Include numbers whenever possible, whether you're describing the size of your budget, the number of events you helped organize, or the number of people you managed, to demonstrate your value to the employer.

7. The job seeker included non-work related skills and activities.
"Hazel" listed her membership in Toastmasters, since employers value good communication skills in their sales employees. "Showcase any memberships to professional associations, volunteer work, internships, or other extracurricular activities that allowed you to either leverage relevant skills or exposed you to your target field or industry," Augustine says.    

5 tips for college students to build their resume


Students working on computer in a college library

By Kate May, recruiter at Hajoca

Today’s job market is tough; undergrads are facing more pressure than ever to set themselves apart from their competition. How do you set yourself apart from other graduates? Many college students believe that a good GPA and having some work experience automatically builds their resume and will impress prospective employers. With so much stiff competition, is that really enough? As a recruiter for Hajoca’s Management Training Program, resumes come across my desk every day, and I know what works and what doesn’t.

Here are five tips to help college students, especially business majors, build their resume into an impressive showcase for future employers.

1. Pick a major relevant to your field of interest. The first thing all college-bound students should do is pick a major that will prepare them for their post-collegiate life. Many students say they picked their major because it was a topic that sounded interesting, was easy for them, or seemed the most fun, only to realize after graduating that they were not prepared for the type of job they desired.
  • Work with your school counselor to figure out the best major for your desired career path.
  • Use your elective courses or take up a minor if you want to pursue some things outside of your career path; it will make you seem well rounded and can be a lot of fun.
  • If you are planning a career in business or plan to go to graduate school, you want to stick with majors like Business Administration, Leadership or International Business. This will ensure you don’t miss key classes that will shape your learning and add value to your resume.
2. Have an internship – and make it count. Working as an intern can be a great way to get your foot in the door at a company and gain some real-world experience. If you decide that an internship is right for you (or is required by your school), don’t just “get the job done;” work on relationship building with your co-workers and managers. Having recommendations from one solid internship experience will go much further than working multiple part-time jobs or having multiple internships.
Business is about building relationships, and you’ll quickly learn that making a good impression on your current boss could befit you for years – even decades – to come. If you realize you are in a heavily administrative internship, take on as many projects as you can – even if you aren’t assigned to do them. Showing initiative looks good to your employer, as well as on your resume.
3. Join clubs/organizations early on and take a leadership role. College can be overwhelming at first: moving away from home, new roommates, difficult classes, and college life in general can be very scary for incoming freshmen. Joining clubs or sports that interest you is a good way to meet friends and build your resume. Showing your commitment to a club or sports team is a great way to show off your dedication, motivation and leadership skills.If you join as a freshman or sophomore, you’ll have a better chance at being elected to a leadership role. Taking on a leadership role in a club or sport shows that you can lead a group, be responsible and have the ability to influence change.
4. Show off your technology skills. In today’s job market, knowing the Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) is not only necessary, but expected. Go one step further and get involved with creating a website, social media platform or an App. Employers look for students who know about technology and can use it to increase sales, bring in customers or update their systems. Feel technology challenged? Use Internet tutorials to learn a new skill, or ask a current Website moderator how you can contribute to their site.

5. Develop your personal brand. Your personal brand is the way others see you; it’s how you sell yourself to your potential employers. It’s more than just your resume; it’s your reputation, credibility and potential. Deciding early on to do the right thing, going above and beyond what is asked, and becoming the best person, friend, student and employee that you can be is the first step in developing your personal brand. Learn as much as you can from others: Talk to your fellow students, professors, work colleagues, friends and family. Always ask questions, but more importantly, listen. Learn when you can add value and when you can take away new understandings of ideas. Always live up to your potential and always do the right thing; this will put you on a path to success.