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Save Your Résumé From The Garbage Can
- by Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA
Director and Résumé Consultant for ResumeCorner.com

Only one résumé from that pile (of thousands) will be read, the rest will be thrown into a garbage can. There are several resources that tell you what to put on your résumé, few that warn against ‘killer don’ts’. Most job-seekers spend sleepless nights, while creating a résumé. Why not? After all, an entire career depends on that one piece of paper. Relax! It’s not that difficult to avoid a ‘résumé disaster’ if you keep a few simple rules in mind.

Proofread your résumé

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? As simple as it sounds, most of us fail this first critical step. Why is it so important? Errors, that at the outset appear insignificant, can change the entire meaning of a statement. An example that follows, though extreme, illustrates this point. A Sales Executive’s résumé read, “Responsible for losing sales deals valued at over $1 billion.” The omission of a simple ‘c’ from ‘closing’ impressed on the employer that he was looking at someone who wants to doom the company. Needless to say, the candidate was never called for an interview.

Take another real-life example, a job-seeker wrote, “Forged several business deals.” The original intent was to say “Generated several...” However, the meaning that came across was that the writer faked business deals. Consulting a dictionary could have prevented such an erroneous representation. Take the classic case of a résumé that read, “Completed project at $5 million over budget.” Just exactly what an employer wants – someone who exceeds budgets by millions of dollars. Remember, no employer is going to get inside your head to know what you were thinking. You convey exactly what you write. Even if you meant to write “under budget” in the above case, the effect was just the opposite. Proofread every résumé; use the spelling checker and thesaurus. Make sure your audience will read what you want to convey. You could ask a few people to proof your résumé. The results will surprise you!

Think you write better than Shakespeare?

Even if you answered – yes, your résumé is not the place to display fancy writing. A résumé needs to be well written and grammatically correct; using excessively flamboyant language will slow the reader. An employer has only 10 seconds to read your résumé. Be simple! Excessive wordiness or unnecessary jargons are a common problem. It is better to be clear and concise.

One size does not fit all

A prevalent notion is to create one document geared towards all job openings. If you are a marketing executive who wants to apply for jobs in sales, market research, and general marketing; then create three individual résumés, each targeting a specific objective. Staying focused pays. It is also recommended to customize your résumé for each company you apply to. This may sound time consuming but the results are rewarding.

Don’t get personal

I have read some objectives that say “Single male looking for jobs in Information Technology.” A résumé is not a place to find dates. Avoid giving out personal information.

Be authentic

Don’t write, “Increased customer base.” Instead, use numbers, percentages, dollar volumes, and ratios. Writing: “Increased customer base by 25%,” adds more authenticity to your claims.

Formatting and layouts

Use a layout that is attractive and captures attention; avoid using fancy layouts and gaudy fonts.

Every inch of your résumé must scream “Hire Me!” If not, re-write your résumé. While a skillfully created résumé can serve as a powerful sales piece, an ill-designed résumé is most likely to land in the garbage can. Using a professional writer can help (there are several good ones), but be careful; there are many self-proclaimed writing professionals who will – more often hurt than help. Choosing the right company is the key to getting a good résumé.

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© ResumeCorner 2002, All Rights Reserved

Nimish Thakkar is the Founder/Director of ResumeCorner.com. ResumeCorner.com provides expert résumé-writing and career management solutions to job-seekers.

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