Looking for a job can be a pain, no matter where you’re living or what credentials are. I know this from personal experience, going through the whole process about 3 times in my life so far (and hopefully, prayerfully, that’s all). The applications you have to fill out, the search engines you have to scroll through, the interviews that make you anxious as can be–it can all be draining in the end. But where it all starts, and what can change the process into a positive one, is your RESUME.
A page or two trying to show all of you without one word being spoken. Feel the pressure yet? To take some of that off your shoulders, here are a few tips (thanks to Charles Purdy, from Monster.com) on how to avoid making that ever-important document end up in the “Oh-No” pile:
1. Your Resume Is Badly Formatted
Looks matter. Misaligned indentations and double spaces are a couple of the things that make a resume start to look like it belongs in the garbage. The fix? Use tabs for indents, and search your document for stray double spaces.
Also beware of being too creative. When choosing resume fonts, opt ones that are widely used and readable, such as Calibri or Arial, and use no more than two fonts with their associated bold and italic styles.
3. Your Resume Is Too Templated
Unaltered, familiar resume templates from word-processing programs annoy quite a few. “This won’t automatically put you in the trash, but it tells me that you have put less thought into your resume than your competition,” longtime recruiter Mike Monroe says.
Jessica Campbell, an HR manager for talent agency Voices.com, says one of her pet peeves is “when a candidate has used a template resume,” but hasn’t updated it before sending it. To prevent your resume from ending up in the trash for this reason, customize your resume for each job you apply for using the language of the job ad and highlighting your most relevant experience.
2. Your Resume Is Immature
Other hiring managers we talked to said they had immediately trashed resumes with pictures on them — for example, of cartoon character Bart Simpson (in the case of one applicant for a technical writing job) or of a kitten (an applicant for a customer service job). Cute resume additions like these are for kids — not professionals.
4. Your Resume Is Sneaky
Many may immediately distrusts people whose resumes have no dates on them. David S. Williams, founder and CEO of salary consultancy SpringRaise, agrees, saying that if you are or have been unemployed, don’t try to hide it. “You may be doing yourself a disservice because you may be a strong candidate for a position, but you tried to hide your current status,” he says.
A better tactic is to be straightforward on your resume, and then use your cover letter to tell the story of your career’s progress — including information about how you maximized your time away from the 9-to-5 routine. And do remember to write a cover letter — not doing so is another guaranteed way to get your resume thrown into the trash, according to the experts.