Pitfalls are plentiful, when it comes to writing a resume. Job hunters, best be on your guard. Today’s job marketplace can be challenging. Employment candidates strive to come up with clever and creative ways to attract prospective hirers’ attention and line up interviews.
Often, a well-written professional resume is the launching point, but only if it’s correctly done.
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Unfortunately, many job applicants seem somewhat ill informed, when it comes to producing acceptable professional resumes to showcase their talents and experience. Several key errors should be avoided at all costs.
What are the top ten biggest boo-boos job applicants might make on their professional resumes?
A professional resume must never employ cutesy quaintness.
Pretty papers are wonderful for thank-you notes, wedding invitations and other social purposes. However, fancy stationary is utterly inappropriate for a professional resume. The most successful job applicants allow their credentials to speak for themselves, rather than drawing attention through frilly or ornate papers.
A professional resume must never overlook basic neatness.
Usually, a job applicant’s professional resume represents his or her first point of contact with a prospective employer. Unless he or she is currently working for that organization as a professional intern or employee, the employment candidate will likely be seeking a primary introduction.
Just as a savvy job applicant would dress for success for an in-person meeting, he or she will want to present the professional resume in its best possible appearance. Clean, crisp paper, printed in a clear font, can make a solid impression. A neatly presented resume is like a sturdy handshake. It offers no offense.
A professional resume must never contain sloppy spelling.
On a professional resume, a misspelled word or two can quickly destroy an employment candidate’s credibility with a potential employer. Proofreading can make a world of difference, when it comes to creating a presentable professional resume.
Also, chat-room or instant-messaging abbreviations and acronyms are also unacceptable in the job-search process. Basically, the employment applicant must seek to present himself or herself as a diligent and capable adult.
“I want 2 work 4 U” simply won’t cut it with a potential boss.
A professional resume must never include messy mechanics.
The high school English teacher had it right. Good grammar does count, especially in the workplace. Sentence fragments, run-ons, improper capitalizations and other mechanical errors do detract from the professional resume.
In nearly any career field, basic communications skills are highly valued. A smart employment candidate will enlist the help of a trusted writer or other skilled communicator to double-check his or her professional resume before submitting it to a prospective employer.
A professional resume must never be sent without a cover letter.
In most companies, middle- and upper-managers receive unsolicited professional resumes daily, whether job openings exist or not. Those resumes that arrive without cover letters are generally relegated immediately to the infamous circular file, or the trash.
Professional resumes that do include well-written cover letters often receive a bit more attention. After all, a resume without a cover letter is like a suit without a jacket. The outfit is not complete.
In addition, the cover letter offers the job applicant an opportunity to mention whether professional and personal references, writing or work samples, lists of awards and achievements and other supporting items might be available.
A professional resume must never offer vague employment objectives.
Human resources experts love to debate the question of whether job applicants should list employment objectives on professional resumes.
Certainly, if an individual is approaching multiple industries or job opportunities, the objective must be tailored to match each on. By adapting word processing files, job applicants may easily craft several unique resumes to fit various potential employment opportunities.
What about salary requirements? Should these be listed on a professional resume? Most employment experts advise against including actual amounts in print. Often, such figures may be open to negotiation, once an interview actually occurs. It would be unfortunate for a job applicant to list a suggested salary requirement, only to discover later that the potential employer was willing to pay even more.
A professional resume must never display too much information.
Professional resumes are often passed around in the workplace. Often, with the best intentions, a manager may forward a potential candidate’s resume to another department or staffer.
Personal information has no place in a professional resume. Although an interviewer may ask a job candidate in person about his or her pets, hobbies and special interests, this information does not belong on the professional resume. A professional resume should not include a photograph, caricature, clip-art or other image, either.
Confidential data, such as an employment candidate’s salary history, need not be listed on a professional resume. In addition, an applicant’s age, rage, marital status, health issues, religion, Social Security number and other classified details are to be omitted.
A professional resume must never have inaccuracies or untruths.
Throughout history, countless job applicants have been tempted to beef up their backgrounds, embellish their employment details, bestow additional academic degrees upon themselves or otherwise augment the details on their professional resumes.
Lying on a professional resume is never acceptable. This is the biggest job application no-no of all. Communicating untruths is the fastest way for a job applicant to destroy his or her own credibility.
Prospective employers do check professional resume details, run credit reports, and investigate professional references. In short order, the truth does come out. Fibs can cost an applicant the job.
A professional resume must never offer excuses for previous employment terminations or career gaps.
Often, a job applicant may become stymied by a significant gap between jobs or a sudden loss of employment. How should such questions be handled on the professional resume?
In the very least, the professional resume is not a forum for airing grievances towards former employers, attacking unfair employment practices, defending oneself after downsizing or bad-mouthing an organization.
In an employment interview, an employment candidate may be asked to elaborate on unusual employment gaps or job changes. However, even then, this must be done tactfully and strategically.
A professional resume must never be followed up by pestering of potential employers.
After mailing and sending a professional resume, the job seeker may be eager for a response. A single telephone call or e-mail, about two weeks after posting the professional resume, may be considered appropriate. Beyond that, however, the responsibility and prerogative lies with the potential employer. Constant calling will only work against the applicant.
Of course, a professional resume is the first step in self-promotion in the job market.
By avoiding potential pitfalls and gaffes, the job applicant may increase his or her chances of gaining the much-needed first interview. Once the face-to-face meeting takes place, the candidate will have an opportunity to articulate in person his or her career goals, skill sets and other advantages.
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