What's Wrong With Your Resume?
By Anne Fisher (Fortune.com 12-02-2002)
If you're looking for a job, you know it's tough out there--and you need every advantage you can get. "Your resume is the primary marketing tool that advertises who you are and what you can do," says Mike Worthington, head of ResumeDoctor, an online consulting service. "If you're sending out resumes and haven't gotten much response, the reason may be that your resume is an inadequate marketing tool."
And how do you know if your resume
is lacking? Funny you should ask. In an effort to pinpoint what makes an
effective resume--and what does not--ResumeDoctor asked more than 2,500
A short list of recruiters' top
complaints follows with suggestions on how to avoid making the same mistakes.
Full details of the poll results are available at the ResumeDoctor.com.
1. Poor formatting. "If
a resume is not formatted properly, it is immediately thrown in File 13 (in
other words, the trash can)," says Mark King, a recruiter at MRI Atlanta.
"When a resume is over-formatted with multiple type fonts, heavy graphic
trickery, 'ghost' backgrounds, and so on, it raises hell with the input
process," adds Bob Lee at Management Recruiters in
Suggestion:Why not do yourself a favor and send it that way in the first place? Two tips: 1) In Word, don't use headers and footers to list your contact information. Headers and footers often get lost in conversion--and you do want to be contacted, right? 2) To see exactly what your resume will look like as a text file, paste it into Notepad. You can make any necessary adjustments there before sending it on its way.
2. An introduction or statement of objectives that is too general.
2. An introduction or statement of objectives that is too general."A general objective is a good way to have your resume tossed out immediately," says Gayla Moore of Taylor Recruiting in
Suggestion: Instead, she
says, "use this top piece of real estate to really sell yourself by
creating a headline. Don't be shy. Come up with one powerful sentence or phrase
to 'grab' your reader. Tell them who you are and what you do." This
headline can, and probably should, be customized to match the job description
and "hot buttons" of each recruiter or employer.
3. Burying, or not including,
important information. Many recruiters say that candidates often leave off
critical skills and qualifications--for instance, holding a security clearance
or being bilingual in Spanish--or bury them so far down in the resume that the
recruiter won't see them.
Suggestion: "Job seekers
must be aware that recruiters receive hundreds of resumes a day and spend only
about ten seconds skimming each one. No recruiter has time to play Sherlock
Holmes or guessing games to figure out a candidate's background," says Mike
Worthington. "This is why it's imperative that, if you have the
qualifications for a particular job, you grab the recruiter's attention with
that right away. Don't make him or her hunt for it, or the chances that you'll
get called are not good."
4. Resumes that are too long. "If
a candidate can't communicate the information in two pages or less, there's a
problem," says James Cox, managing director at MES Search in
Suggestion: Your resume
should showcase only your most recent accomplishments, going back five to eight
years and certainly no more than ten. For employment before that, create a brief
"Previous Employment" section that quickly lists titles, companies,
5. Applying for a job for which
you aren't qualified. Be sure to read the job description carefully. If the
requirements are "must have
Suggestion: Says Jennifer
Baker of Inter*Link Technology Solutions in
6. Personal information not
relevant to the job. "Recruiters do not need to know about your age,
height, weight, marital status, sexual orientation, religious or political
affiliations, or hobbies," says
Suggestion: There are
exceptions. If for example you are applying for a position as a computer
programmer at Burton Snowboards, and your hobby happens to be snowboarding, by
all means mention it. "In a case like this your hobby offers value to the