Part of my job as a consultant is to sift through different applicant resumes for clients. In a given day, I can go through as little as 20 to as much as 100 resumes, depending on my work load.
As you can imagine, going through that many documents is taxing. The natural reaction of people, including mine, is to skim through the list and just devote a few seconds to each resume.
Given that limited amount of time, it needs to stand out, not only with the layout but with the content as well.
Having gone through today’s batch of resumes, many stand out. Unfortunately, they stick out because of the wrong reasons, such as errors in spelling, carelessness in grammar, and even inappropriate photographs.
To help those of you in drafting better resumes, I listed down some of my suggestions as Dos and Don’ts. Hopefully, these tips can help you avoid making your resumes stand out for the wrong reasons.
1. Do place a description of your role and responsibilities in bullet form.
a. I don’t have time to read long, novel-like sentences so keeping it short and sweet will get my attention.
2. Do pay attention to the order of you information.
a. Put your name and contact information at the top of the page.
b. For experienced applicants, the order of importance for me is as follows:
i. Work experience
iii. Training and seminars
v. Personal information
vi. Character reference
c. If you are a fresh graduate, I look at the following:
ii. On-the-Job Training
iv. Training and seminars
v. Personal information
vi. Character reference
3. Do make your latest job the first and your first job the last.
a. What matters to recruiters, myself included, is your latest job.
b. Having to go through your entire resume, when I just need your latest job description, is a waste of time for me.
4. Do check your spelling and grammar.
a. Nothing turns me off more than wrong spelling so make sure to use the spell checker that comes with your word processor as the your first step for corrections.
b. I suggest having a family member or friend read your resume before as the second step before finalizing it.
c. Some common mistakes include:
i. Use: Work Experience
ii. Not: Work Experiences or Worked Experience
iii. Use: Trainer
iv. Not: Trainor
v. Use: Training
vi. Not: Trainings
vii. Use: Information
viii. Not: Informations
ix. Use: Data
x. Not: Datas
xi. Use: Felix’, Francis’
xii. Not: Felix’s, Francis’s
xiii. Use: Proficient in
xiv. Not: Proficiencies
xv. Use: Recognition Received
xvi. Not: Recognitions Received
xvii. Use: Software
xviii. Not: Softwares
xix. Use: Hardware
xx. Not: Hardwares
5. Do use one type of font only.
a. People read slower with different fonts because they need to adjust with every change.
b. You can use bold fonts or underlines to make a point, but use them carefully.
6. Use a font that is easy to read.
a. HR people don’t always have good eyesight as they may have been doing this for years.
b. Time New Roman or Calibri fonts are fine.
c. Sized in either 11 or 12 points make it easily readable.
7. Do use a good picture.
a. If you will be adding a picture, make sure you look good in it.
b. A collared shirt is good, while a shirt and tie is better for the gentlemen.
c. Avoid pictures that make you look sloppy, like addicts, or mentally unstable.
8. Do add detail.
a. State what you did in your work, such as “Installed Windows XP or “Installed HP Printers.”
9. Do send a copy of your resume in common file formats.
a. If the program a recruiter uses can’t open your resume, chances are they won’t bother getting the right software just for one resume.
b. Use: Files in .doc and .pdf formats
c. Not: Files in .docx, .odf, .jpg, etc. unless specified.
1. Don’t put on-the-job training (OJT) under work experience.
a. This is absolutely not the same thing as work so put OJT activities under the OJT heading.
2. Don’t include a cover letter if you cannot write well.
a. Best case is to have someone help you compose a letter if it is required.
b. Make sure the letter is consistent with your personality; don’t include long, complex words if you are not used to them.
3. Don’t include a place for your signature if you won’t sign it.
a. If you’re sending it via e-mail and cannot affix a signature, remove the signature line.
b. But if you’ll be sending a printed resume, make sure to sign before sending it over.
4. Don’t use abbreviations or characters.
a. Use: And
b. Not: &
c. Use: At, Each
d. Not: @
e. Use: And, Or
f. Not: /
5. Don’t put Training under Certifications
a. Attending a certification class is different from being certified for it.
b. Certifications are normally handed out after you pass a validating exam, such as being a Linux or Microsoft Certified Engineer.
6. Don’t oversell yourself.
a. Don’t put anything in your resume that isn’t true.
b. For me, honesty is the best policy because a good interviewer will be able to get the truth out of you sooner or later.
c. In my case, people who I catch exaggerating get placed on a blacklist.
My old teacher once told me that oral communications are more forgiving than the written communications.
In oral communications, errors can be corrected immediately by the speaker. Also, listeners tend to commit the corrected information to memory.
Written communication, such as a resume, is very different as errors are permanent. Errors also have an uncanny way of drawing the reader’s eye to them. So it is important to make sure you pass something without any mistakes.
By avoiding common errors and applying some of my tips, your resumes should move you a step closer to getting the right kind of attention and may ultimately help you land that dream job.