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Did you know that your resume only has about ten seconds in front of the reviewer to entice them to read on? And the reality is, in today's job market, it may be as little as five seconds. So how do you make it through the first round and avoid that ten-second screen-out? First, you must put yourself in the reviewer's shoes. Think about this. If you were a hiring manager or a recruiter and had a stack of 100 resumes sitting in front of you to plow through, all from people applying for the same job, how would you begin? The truth is most recruiters begin by weeding out as many resumes as they can into a 'no' pile and end up with a much smaller pile of 'possiblys'.
If you want to make the first cut, you need to sidestep some common resume blunders in order to turn a 'possibly' into a possibility. So let's do some sidestepping of our own by looking at some of the most common resume blunders. We'll look at the do's, the don'ts, and things that you just need to leave off of your resume. There are always exceptions to every rule, so be sure to keep your own situation in mind. First of all, when submitting your resume, be sure to follow the employer's instructions to a tee.
For example, if they ask for a cover letter, be sure to submit a cover letter. Your resume may be a masterpiece, but just one typo can end it all. Unintentionally including misspelled words or the improper use of grammar on your resume can portray you in a negative light. Use spell check and then have several trusted people check and then double-check your work. Do not staple, fold, or put paperclips on your resume when mailing. In sending through the mail, invest in a professional-looking envelope that's large enough to encompass your resume without folding--one where you can just slide it in.
For example, use an 8.5 x 11 clasp envelope. Also, it will look much more professional to invest in mailing labels instead of writing the address and the name on the front. Make sure you have professional-looking paper as well. Don't use hot pink paper sprayed with perfume, or fluorescent green paper. You'll get their attention all right, and not in a good way. Speaking of things you shouldn't do, here are some more things you should avoid.
Don't use a personal email address with an inappropriate or unprofessional username. Consider using an email address that includes your name. Also, don't let your email address date you. It's best to use an email address from one of the current popular email providers like Gmail or Yahoo! If you don't have a professional email address, create one. It's free. Another option of course is to use an email address from your own custom domain.
Personal pronouns such as I and me shouldn't be used in your resume. For example, instead of 'I managed', just start with 'managed'. Don't include references on your resume. Your references should be a separate document. Don't include them on the resume itself. Don't include the line, 'references available upon request' either. Employers expect you to have professional references; therefore, this statement is not needed. Please! Leave your clipart at home.
It'll make your resume look unprofessional. Don't include an objective on your resume. Instead, replace with a powerful headline and qualification summary. Stay away from including TMI, or too much information. Don't include such things as why you left your last job or list your current or past supervisors. Whatever you do, don't lie. Don't try to pull a fast one just to get the job when you don't know the software, don't have the degree, or the experience that they need.
These things are easily checked. Now, here are a few things you should make sure to leave off. Leave off the word 'resume'. Hopefully, the employer is intelligent enough to know it's your resume. No need to tell them this, so don't place the word 'resume' at the top unless you're creating an online resume and you're using it as a keyword. Do not include a personal section that lists things such as your age, your weight, your height, or your marital status, unless you're outside of the U.S. and it's required.
And no photographs, please! Please do not include a photograph of yourself, even if you are gorgeous, except of course if it's required for the position, such as you're an actor or a model. Including your salary may ruin your chances of getting an interview by being too high or may ruin your chance of getting a better salary by being too low. And last but not least, leave off your hobbies, unless they're relevant to the position that you're applying for.
Sidestepping these common resume blunders will help you make the first cut by avoiding the 10-second screen-out. Jump over these pitfalls, stay out of the 'no' pile, and open up your own possibilities.
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