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The Top Three Resumes Mistakes I See


Robby

I get a lot of résumés from people who want help finding a job. I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the mistakes I see almost every time on almost every résumé.

Resume
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Problem #1 is what I like to call the self-promotion mistake. It’s kind of like the guy at the party who talks and talks and talks about how humble he is. He goes on for ages about how he doesn’t need to be center stage. You want to shake him and say: “Wait a minute! You’re proving that you aren’t what you say you are by what you are doing right now!”

I come across résumés all the time that claim that the professional is an expert in something, but the résumé itself demonstrates lack of expertise in this topic. For example, your résumé says you are “proficient” in Microsoft Word but there are all kinds of weird indents, font changes or layout issues. Your résumé says you are “detail-oriented”, but you left the hyphen out between “detail” and “oriented!” Your résumé says that you are up to speed on the latest technologies, but you have an AOL email address.

That’s bad. But it’s not as bad as problem #2 – the consistency mistake. Of all of the qualities we want in employees, consistency may be the most fundamental. You want people who show up on time, who do quality work day in and day out, who show about the same level of devotion most every day. Sure, you want people who are innovative, but ask any manager if they’d rather have a genius or a someone who was actually reliable. They will pick the latter every time.

That’s why your résumé needs to be consistent. If you use periods at the end of bulleted items, do so on every bulleted item. If you include the month on dates, don’t write “August” in one place and “Dec” in another. If your text is in 12 point font in one section, it should almost certainly be the same in another section.

Now we get to my third complaint about most résumés . Problem #3 is the activity mistake. George Balanchine once said “Never confuse activity with progress.” I see so many résumés which go on and on about activities that people have done but don’t outline any accomplishments. I don’t care what you happened to do, I care what you actually achieved. Progress is what matters.

For example, I see bullets that say:  “Worked with a team of five other graphic designers on multiple large projects.” This is just an activity. How about something that says: “Designed over ten national ad campaigns by leading a team of five award-winning graphic designers.” Now that’s an accomplishment!

Watch out for these three résumé mistakes! Don’t make them and your résumé will rise to the top of the pile.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Thu, October 27 2011 » Personal Organization, Self Development

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