Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eight Ways Your Resume Can Say You Are Unprofessional

Because of one of my teaching projects, I look at a lot of resumes. Some are good. Some are not so good.

To help you develop your resume so it lands in the “good” category, I’ve put together a list of eight problem areas that can say your resume (and you) are unprofessional.

Correct these and you’ll be on your way to more success in the job hunting process.
1.   Unprofessional e-mail addresses, like:
thebigcheese@domain.com  or
dickandjane@domain.com or
If you are seriously looking for work, you’ll want to check your funny email address at the door. Get serious and get a job. OK?!

2.  Failure to proofread.  (You need a second set of eyes). Check for typos, spelling errors, punctuation problems, grammar, etc.
Have a friend look over your finished project BEFORE you send it out. Most likely, a typo will be lurking in the dark, waiting to spring out and present itself to your prospective employer. Don’t rely on spellchecker and grammar checker software alone. They may (and often do) make mistakes.

3.  Pictures and Graphics.
Several items to discuss here. You’ve all seen the big type used in the heading for the person’s name. Don’t do that. The optical scanners used to read your resume may decide such large type is a graphic image – and they may be programmed to discard any type of graphic image.

Don’t include your photo. Again, the HR department is programmed to discard anything with an image on it. Why? They are worried that by looking at a photo they may be open to a charge of discrimination if they end up not hiring you.

4.   Unprofessional Voicemail.
If you have a phone number on your resume (and you should), you need to make certain someone will be answering it appropriately if you are not there. This is not the number you should give out if your joker roommate likes to tell everyone that you are spending the night in jail … or that if the caller is a bill collector to drop dead. It is also not the best to have a 3-year-old answering the phone … and please, do NOT put your favorite song on there before they can leave a message. Get it?! Be professional.

5.  Lazy Words like:  “etc.” or  using the phrase: “same as above” …
Often the resumes are being scanned by electronic readers and they do not have the ability to decide what you mean by those phrases.    

6.  Using a “One-Size-Fits-All” Resume.
Do NOT think you can do a single resume and that will work in all situations. That is a false idea. Frankly, you need a tailor-made resume for each job application you submit. When it comes to resumes, one size does NOT fit all.

7.  Listing everything but the kitchen sink.
Actually, I have seen resumes where the person did think everything should be on the resume. So, it was a 5-page document in the tiniest type size you can imagine. Very difficult to read. Very boring. Quickly hit the reject pile.  One page is best. Two pages is OK.

8.   Using a spouse or a relative as your reference.
Yes. Not the best idea. What’s more, references do NOT belong on your resume at all. Keep them on a separate sheet that you can hand to an interviewer if asked to provide references – but do NOT list them on your resume itself.

Tomorrow – we’ll start working through all the elements that should be in your targeted resume.

Good Hunting!

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