One of the most important documents you will ever prepare is your resume. As a teacher and as someone who has sat on an interviewing committee, it amazes me how many people simply submit a poor resume.
There is an art to creating a great resume, but here I am just going to cover the common mistakes you must avoid in your resume if you want your resume not to end up in the waste basket.
Proofread to avoid typos and other mistakes.
Imagine having to plow through a pile of resumes and having to decide which ones to look at further. What would you do? You would develop a system of elimination. One of the first ways employers eliminate resumes is by tossing every one that has a mistake of any kind. Proofread your resume carefully yourself; do not depend solely on a program’s spell checking. Then have more than one person proofread it after you. This is one time you want the most picky, critical person to review your resume.
Know the differences between accomplishments and responsibilities.
Resumes are a brief snapshot of your professional life. It is also a way to show future employers your critical writing and thinking skills. When you mention the things you have done in your jobs, be sure that you know the difference between an accomplishment (increased sales of a 30+ member sales team through implementation of a new sales program) and a responsibility (managed a 30+ member sales team).
Put things in a logical order.
Resumes are technical documents, and they need to be ordered logically. Most often, items on a resume are listed in chronological order within each category. Sometimes, the grouping may be changed if a person has a long and varied work history. In all instances, there should be a pattern to how they are ordered. For instance, when listing the positions you have had, list them from most recent to oldest. It will help a future employer locate information quickly.
Leave out personal information.
Unless it is directly related to a position you are applying for, leave out personal information. If you are bilingual, it is probably an asset to any position you are applying for, so go ahead and put that you are fluent in Spanish or Russian (if you truly are). If your hobby is gardening and you are applying as a dental assistant, ask yourself: will being an avid gardener help in my future job? No? Leave it out. Just think through what you plan to put on your resume and ask yourself if the information is an asset. CPR certification might be good, but amateur race car driver might be interesting but may tell an employer that you take unnecessary risks.
Make it easy on the eyes.
Resumes are also sales documents. You are selling yourself to a future employer, so make your resume attractive but professional. Do not use colored paper or fancy graphics, but choose clear fonts, make use of bold and italics and different size fonts. Format the document so the pattern makes it easy on the reader to pick out information. Have reasonable margins. Do not crowd information together and do not make the fonts too small.
There is so much more to say about resumes, but these are five of the most important things to keep in mind when you create your resume. Pay attention to detail, so your resume does not end up in the waste basket.