By Judi Perkins
1. A BLAND OR GENERIC OBJECTIVE: If your objective could be
applied to a marketing resume as easily as a resume for an
accounting position, then your objective says nothing and will
get you nowhere. An objective is NOT some required paragraph
the top of the page that is an exercise in 5 lines of job
It's an actual and real description of your skills as they're
related to who you are and what you want. It should vary with
the type of job for which you are applying.
2. BLAND JOB DETAILS: "Responsibilities included overseeing
construction of 4 Hilton Hotels in Tri-City Metro Area, each
floors in height." Yeah? So what? That doesn't say if they
up on schedule or if you brought the projects in under budget.
It doesn't say if you took all four from site work up or if
guy handling two of the four hotels was fired and you were
promoted to overseeing all four. Differentiate yourself from
the others coming in to interview. If you don't tell the
company how you will be an asset to them, how will they know?
3. WHO'S THE MYSTERY COMPANY?: Don't assume the name and
purpose of your company is common knowledge. If it's a
competitor, it might be, and if it's in the same industry and
located nearby, it might be. To be on the safe side, provide a
sentence or two about the focus of your company's products or
4. ANOTHER JOB, ANOTHER PARAGRAPH: Don't keep adding on to
resume job after job, year after year. By the time you're in
your 40s, you need to have weeded out some of the earlier
stuff. You don't need all the college activities, just your
degree. You don't need ALL 5 bullets for each of your first
5. REFERENCES: Shouldn't be listed on your resume. "References
available on request" is the proper phrase. You present them
separately when they're requested. This isn't about protocol.
This is about protecting your references so they aren't called
until you and the company are serious about each other.
6. IT'S NOT A STORY!: Don't - whatever you do, DON'T - write
your resume in the third person!
7. SKIP THE PERSONAL INFO: You might think your weekend
baseball coaching or your church choir participation shows
you're an interesting and well-rounded person, but they're
irrelevant. If the interviewer wants to know who you are as a
person, aside from the job interview and your qualifications,
8. DEGREE DATE: No matter how old you are, don't leave the
of when you were graduated off your resume. It looks like
hiding something (well, you are, aren't you?), and then
counts the years backwards and tries to figure out how old you
are. Sometimes you can be ruled out - just for leaving the
off. If you're trying to hide your age by not stating the
what else might you not be forthcoming about?
9. SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK: Spell checking
visually by you AND someone else, any fewer than three times,
isn't enough. And don't forget to check your punctuation.
10. GETTING YOUR RESUME OUT THERE - part one: Don't use one of
those resume blaster things. Half those sites aren't even
valid. You don't know how it will come out on the other end.
You don't even know where it's going or if the landing targets
are employment related. It's bad form and just....NOT the way
to find your perfect job. Finding your perfect job takes
attention, detail, individuality, tailoring, specifics. Resume
blasting is about as far from that as you can get.
11. GETTING YOUR RESUME OUT THERE - part two: If it's an ad,
you probably have instructions as to how to send it. If it
email, cut and paste it in the form, AND attach it. You never
know what it can look like on the other end because of the
variety of settings available to each user. Quite frankly,
you're better off not emailing it at all, because it usually
just goes into cyber space, and then it's all about the hiring
company - but unfortunately, besides not sending it at all,
sometimes that's your only choice. Emailing your resume takes
any option for further participation right out of your hands,
because often there's not even a name given for a follow up
contact. You've no other option than to wait and wonder. (And
half the time it's going to HR or an admin department to be
scanned into an electronic database.)
12. GETTING YOUR RESUME OUT THERE - part three: If you know
company, call and ask if they prefer email, fax, or snail
I know a recruiter who never even opened his email. Because he
was listed in The Kennedy Guide to Executive Recruiters, he
received so many resumes emailed to him cold (so NOT
pro-active) that he just did a mass delete every morning.
Candidates contacted for a specific search were requested to
snail mail their resume to him. How about that? I'll bet less
than 10% of those who emailed their resumes even bothered to
follow up to see if it was received (this isn't a numbers
13. RESUME VISUALS: Ivory paper. Black ink. Individual pages.
No plastic, 7th grade, science report cover with the plastic
slider or metal push down tabs. Your name centered at the top,
not on a cover page that says "Introducing Clifton Lewis
Montgomery III". No exceptions. Your resume is a professional
document, not a school book report or an art project. Until
every resume is done this way, yours will still stand out in
You are the product, and your resume is the marketing piece.
find your perfect job you must differentiate yourself from the
other people who will be interviewed.
Your resume must be specific, individualized, easy to skim so
it invites a closer reading, and focused on the differences
you've made with your previous companies, as well as the
accomplishments you've achieved with - and for - them. This
tells the hiring company what you can do for them - and it IS
about the hiring company, not you.
Of course this assumes you meet the requirements for the job -
otherwise it doesn't matter how good your resume is! The
is what gets you in the door. If your resume is poorly
looks sloppy, is difficult to read, is cryptic in any way, or
necessitates being slogged through to learn your information
(they won't bother), you won't even get in the door. And how
can you decide whether you like the company, if they've
decided they don't like you?
About The Author: Judi Perkins has been a contingency and
retained search consultant for 25 years, with a short stint in
the temporary and local permanent placement market. She has
owned her own firm and been hired repeatedly by numerous
clients. Learn how to ace an interview - and thousands of
job tips at www.findtheperfectjob.com