by Laura Hill

Like most recruiting firms, we get dozens of incoming resumes every day. Since reading resumes doesn’t pay the rent, we have to determine the following fairly quickly:

1.Is this person a possible candidate for one of our client’s current needs? If not,
2.Should we keep this person’s resume for future client assignments? (i.e.-is this person’s background likely to be in demand) If so,
3.What indicators or codes do we use for this person to ensure that the resume is “matched” by our computer to client assignments as they arise?

Now why are we talking about all this before we give you some useful resume tips? Simple: if employers or recruiters cannot answer these questions, your resume is probably headed to the trash. If the reader can’t figure out what you do or you haven’t put your best foot forward, then you’ve wasted your time (and that of the reader), and most importantly, you aren’t any closer to getting the job of your dreams.

We hope the following resume tips will facilitate your job search and help you avoid common mistakes that other people make.

Do tell the reader what you do/have done in understandable and concrete language. “Designed and implemented web sites” is better than “developed electronic communication vehicles”.

Do include key accomplishments and put them in the same location as the job descriptions; out-of-context accomplishments tend to sound like fluff.

Don’t assume the reader will pick up key information from your cover letter: important information should be in the resume!

Do provide the context for your work experience, such as what business your employer is in, what kind of products or product knowledge you have, etc. Marketing and sales people should always indicate what products/services they sold/marketed, to whom (mass market, business-to-business, industrial, etc.) and channels used (direct, telemarketing, distributors, retail, etc.).

Do spellcheck, and proofread, proofread, proofread (the more sets of eyes the better).

Don’t use tiny or difficult-to-read type faces or use ALL CAPS.

Do give your resume the “fax-it-twice” test to see if it is still readable after the second iteration, since it is quite likely that you will fax it to a recruiter or a friend who in turn will fax it to an employer. Some great looking resumes look like you-know-what after faxing once, much less twice. Underlined words or phrases often look really bad after faxing.

Don’t say the same thing over and over. Make sure each thing you say adds something new to your repertoire of skills or experiences.

Don’t waste space with self evident comments like “References furnished on request”.

Do use correct grammar and tenses. It’s okay to use present tense if you are currently employed, but be sure that previous jobs are in past tense. Avoid the “ing” verb form whenever possible.

Don’t use “I” or “he” or “she” to refer to yourself. (Instead of “I was responsible for . . .” just say “Responsible for . . .”.)

Do remember that honesty is the only policy. Assume that you will have to substantiate every statement or date on your resume.

Don’t omit significant facts such as a Phd or a job that you held for a significant period of time.

Don’t call your resume a “c.v.” (curriculum vitae) unless you’re looking for a job outside of the United States.

Do think about your target audience and what kind of job you seek to make sure it speaks to that reader. Better to have multiple resumes than to try to serve all masters in one document.

Don’t omit dates of employment or degrees. You may think you are fooling the reader into thinking you are younger than you really are or have more experience than you really do, but withholding dates is a turn-off to savvy readers and not likely to get you very far anyway.

Do put your work experience on the first page. Don’t devote more than a quarter page to summaries, objective statements and the like. Please don’t make us say “where’s the beef?!”

Do put your name and page numbers on pages after the first one in case they get separated.

Don’t be verbose. The reader has lots of better things to do than read your life story.

If you have questions about resume writing, send us an e-mail at [email protected] and we will try our best to respond in our Q & A section. Senders’ names will remain confidential.

Able Associates, Inc. Copyright 1995.

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Suite 807
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 689-5500
Fax: (212) 689-5511