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The Do's and Don'ts of an Effective Resume

Even as technology has changed the way we do just about anything, when finding a job, one thing is still your main foot in the door: a resume.

And another thing that hasn't changed: If your resume's no good, you have little chance of landing the job. So it's important to give it as much attention as you can.

A resume is designed to get you past the initial screening so that you have the opportunity to be interviewed by someone who can actually hire you. A resume will not make the recipient believe they have found their ideal person and hire you without meeting and interviewing you. The screening in itself is a challenge and by preparing a well written resume with relevant information, you will be ahead of the game.

Your resume needs to stand out so that you will be chosen for interview. So there are some things you need to be aware of when writing that can be showstoppers and can cause your resume to be tossed in the circular file.

The following are some of the common pitfalls you must avoid.

Your resume needs to be clear and easy to read. The screener or other reader should be crystal clear on reading your resume of your educational qualifications and the responsibilities you had in previous positions. Of course that does not mean giving all the detail behind this however it does mean stating things as succinctly as possible. You do not want the reader to be trying to read between the lines because they won't and you will not get to the critical next step, the interview.

If your resume is filled with errors including grammatical, typos and incorrectly spelled words you are giving the reader the impression you do not care about details. One or two minor errors is an otherwise well written resume is one thing however a resume filled with these is sending a poor message to potential employers. You can be well organized, well educated and possess all the necessary qualifications needed for the position however if there are careless errors in your resume there is little chance the screener will want to call your for interview.

Lack of Professionalism
A resume that looks unprofessionally prepared gives the reader a sense that you too are not a professional. The following are some things to consider as you go about the task of preparing your resume.

  • Use a common font type.
  • Use a common typeface and be prepared to remove bullets and other graphic flourishes if you know whether the resume will be scanned directly to a computer.
  • There are several common formats however in general succinct paragraphs that flow chronologically starting with the most recent position work best. See resume styles section.
  • Never use correction fluid on a resume. Correct the error and print a new copy.
  • Use plain paper. Colored paper is for weddings and party invitations not for resumes. The same applies to ink color

Long and drawn out
This has little to do with the actual length of the resume and more to do with the specific language you use to describe experiences and responsibilities in former positions. Do not feel you need to butter up responsibilities with more long winded diction because you think they were mundane and do not sound very exciting. If you worked as a secretary, say so and describe what your duties and responsibilities were. Be brief and to the point. You will lose the impact of what you are trying to express otherwise and probably confuse the reader to boot.

Note the one hand you do not want the reader to thin you are egotistical however you do need to make sure you point out your accomplishments in your different positions. To help you answer this question, ask yourself the following "What was my impact to the company in the position and what was my contribution?"

Whatever you do, do not lie on your resume and do not add details to the truth that make you look good. When you are found out you will not look so good. It really a matter of ethics and do you really want to be looking over your shoulder if you are taken on by an employer who was led to believe facts about you from your resume that simply were not true. Remember if your employer discovers facts about you that ware in your resume that are not true you could be fired.

On the other hand you do not need to include anything unflattering in your resume even if it is true.

Overkill is where you are singing your own praise a little too much on your resume. There is nothing wrong with drawing attention to the good work you have done however inappropriate adjectives strewn throughout the resume will have the reverse affect than originally intended. For example "fantastic" employee, "super" salesman and so on.

Keep the resume simple and don't quote or use cute little sayings. For example the following statement was actually written in a resume for a veterinary assistants position nurses. "I like to be up with the sun - "The early bird catches the worm"". This is not appropriate language for a resume. There are tow things wrong wit he above statement in a resume. First the reader does not care if you are a morning person and the cute comment on animals to play to the veterinary theme is completely out of place in a resume.

Never use slang terminology uses you are applying for a job as a rapper. The same goes with acronyms. Never assume other will automatically know what these mean. Acronyms are often company specific and you will probable need to learn the new ones when you move to a new company so remember this when you are writing up your resume.

Editing/Personal Information
Do not include personal information such as height, weight, eye color or the state of your health or sexual preference in your resume. Neither should you edit your resume with comments such as why you think specific projects mentioned in your resume worked or did not work.

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