Career Survival Skills: Improve Your Resume, Pt.1
by Michael Mayher

Even if you have good information to share in your resume, information that is not useful, is counter-productive, or just plain unnecessary can be a distraction and shouldn’t be listed in the document meant to represent you in the best and most effective possible manner. Let’s go through some examples:

Incorrectly naming your digital resume file

The name of your document should be your last name followed by first name and, if you have a different version, i.e., long or short, or different language versions, abbreviate it after your name. For example: Mayher_Michael_resume_ENG

I have received resumes from people whose document was named Resume with no name, and the only way I know it’s theirs is because it was attached to their email. File it like that and it will be lost and no one will be able to consider you, much less be able to find you in a database. True, some companies will assign a resume with a file number but don’t leave it to chance.

Stationery stunts

In order to stand out and be noticed some people use borders, a different background color, color highlighting or watermarks as a way to set themselves apart. But it can have an opposite effect. A good resume gets attention because it clearly and thoughtfully contains relevant content and not because of color or graphic stunts, which instead suggest overcompensation for professional shortcomings.

Format & fonts

Similarly, people may use different fonts and formats to gain attention and to stand apart. Keep it simple; always use Arial, Calibri or Tahoma. Another reason is some fonts or characters are not only distracting, but might not scan or copy as well as standard block lettering.

Unprofessional photo

I don’t think photos are necessary because they are often used to make judgments about you that usually have nothing to do with your ability to do a job. But if you choose to, or are requested to submit a photo, ensure it is a photo appropriate for your business / market sector. Selfies are childish, unprofessional and lazy -- don’t use them. So, too, is using a photo from a party or a vacation.

Incorrect or outdated contact info

If they can’t contact you, it doesn’t matter how good your resume may be.

Work email address

Never list your work email address in your contact information, always use a personal address. If your employer wants to be picky and/or nasty, utilizing a work-related email address to find another job can be used against you.

Unprofessional personal email address

Establish a grown-up, normal email address for your personal professional job search efforts. Silly email addresses diminish you and cause you to not be taken seriously.

Personal information (date of birth, marital status, family information)

It is not necessary and opens you up to unwarranted scrutiny and, frankly, it’s nobody’s business. It has nothing to do with your ability to perform a job role. A job application is a different matter.

A vague or generic OBJECTIVE

I find this to be a space waster and unnecessary. Most people list an objective for no other reason than because they think they are supposed to. So they put something painfully generic like: “A good opportunity with a growing company and career growth possibilities”. Instead, save the space for something useful and craft a separate cover letter with substance, where you can elaborate with something real and more impactful, as a separate attachment sent with your resume.

Employment history chronology

Always list your employment history from your current or most recent position, going backward. Listing oldest first to newest is irritating and a time waster to those who are reviewing your resume, for the simple reason that most recent history is more important and has more relevance.

I’ll post Pt.2, the rest of the list next week.

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.)

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