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6 Big Blunders in Your Resume

We executive search consultants (‘headhunter’s’) go through heaps of resumes weekly.  When we’re really busy, a resume might merit a glance.  Or not.

6 big blunders to avoid in your resume:

  1. Just the facts:  There’s no need to lie, dissemble, obfuscate, or exaggerate.  Claiming another’s accomplishments or award is a poor reflection on you, however tempting it may be.  The rule is, ‘if it didn’t happen, don’t write it down’.  Companies or consultants will do reference checks anyway so don’t create a problem for yourself.  You are permitted— encouraged even— to portray yourself legitimately in a favourable light.  That’s the essence of a good resume:  an accurate, authentic, favourable representation of a person’s work history.  Surprisingly, people often fail to do this.
  2. Say it once and no more.  Your reader isn’t deaf or blind.  No need to repeat.  By the way, layout matters.  A two column type (called the Harvard version) is easiest on the reader helps you clear the first hurdle.
  3. Grammar.  In our world today we have many, many online dictionaries, thesauruses, spell-checkers, and even translators.  So how could you possibly submit a resume with poor grammar unless you’re bone lazy or simply stupid?  Either way, you won’t be advancing to the next interview.  Hey, I used to grade papers at university, so don’t think I overlook your errors.  Your resume is a perfect example of how you package and portray yourself.
  4. The artsy look:   Sure, a resume containing 5 colours, stylish bullet points and artistic design is pretty.  It’s also pretty useless.  It’s just another distraction to a hiring manager and it can easily work against you.  So don’t try to be too cutesy or clever.  A resume is a document with a specific function, ie, to get you an interview.  Keep it simple, clean, and clear.  Otherwise you’ll be adding to your collection of silver medals in the jobs race.
  5. Just long enough:  The proper length of your resume may depend on where you are.  For me, in Australia, it’s no longer than 4 pages.  In the USA and Europe may prefer and expect a single page resume.  In Asia resumes of 3-4 pages are common.  The point is:  get it right.  Match the expectation of the recipient.
  6. Chronology:  The most useful, common and functional form of job listing in a resume is reverse chronological order, ie, most recent job listed first.  Spill most of your ink on this job, ie, write more about it, and steadily decrease the amount that your write about your subsequent jobs.  Leave no un-explained gaps.  We’re headhunters, not detectives.  We don’t go looking for clues; we rely upon you to tell us.


Thanks to Sonny Yuen and Jon Davidson for contributions

About Dr. Duff Watkins [www.execsearch.com.au]

international executive search consultant / author-- dispensing career advice about how the job market really works


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Dr. Duff Watkins

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