Tips and Tricks of Great Resumes
How NOT to Write a Resume
You can learn a lot about how to do something right by first learning what NOT to do.
Take resumes, for example. I review about 200-300 a month, and most have at least 2-3 mistakes. Yet, all those hundreds of mistakes can be grouped into just a handful of categories, which you would do well to avoid. Read on and learn how to write a better resume by avoiding the mistakes of others, some of them unintentionally hilarious ...
Mistake #1: "Golden Retriever Syndrome"
Never talk about yourself in terms that could also describe a hunting dog, like the following language, which appears in far too many resumes I see: "Hard-working, self-motivated and dependable individual." Tired phrases like that mean nothing to employers, because they could apply to almost anyone ... or almost anyone's dog. Instead, dump the empty assertions and back up the claims in your resume with facts, like this: "Proven sales skills. Ranked in top 3 among 78 reps for 5 straight years, exceeding sales quotas for 18 of 20 quarters." See the difference?
Mistake #2: A Verbal Jungle
To improve your resume (or anything you write), read it out loud. Since writing is just words on paper, reading it aloud will help you write as you would speak. Here's an example of language so dense, you'll need a machete to find any meaning: "Directed assembly of elements from business units in engineering, development, program management, distribution, and legal to effect market research, proposal responses, and contract management into comprehensive, virtual, successful teams ..." After reading that three times, I'm still baffled. Worse, do you think employers have time to read a resume three times to figure it out? No. As a result, that job seeker is still looking for work, I'll wager. Solution: read your resume out loud before sending it out. If you find yourself gasping for breath halfway through a sentence, stick a period or dash in there and break it in two. And if anything you write sounds less than 100% clear when you read it aloud, revise until it would make sense to your mother. Doing so will ensure that your resume resonates with readers at all levels, from HR managers to your future boss.
Great Cover LetterResume cover letters ought to matter to employers. Resume cover letters are reviewed first by the potential employer who is looking for reasons in the resume cover letter and resume to rule out the application.
As an employer, you are also seeking the resume and resume cover letter that describe the candidate who will best fill your position. A thoughtful resume cover letter tells you that the candidate took the time to customize his application to fit your needs. Perhaps the applicant with a superior resume cover letter, will make a superior employee.
A well-written, carefully typed, error-free resume cover letter should immediately set the application apart from the average application you receive. Take a look at my earlier article, Why Resume Cover Letter Should Matter to Employee. This resume cover letter is among the better application letters I have received recently. I will review with you why I found this resume cover letter so powerful.