Common Resume Writing Mistakes

Below are some general guidelines to avoid making when writing your resume:

Tip 1: Don't prepare a resume more than two pages in length unless you are an executive or manager or you have been in the workforce for at least five years.  Remember, the purpose of a resume is to get the interview, not the job.  Think of a resume as being a sales brochure about you and offer your best selling points and save everything else for the job interview. 

Tip 2:  Now that you're the president of the company, that job you had flipping burgers 25 years ago is irrelevant and should be omitted from your resume.  Most employers are only interested in what you've been up to the last 15 or 20 years.   Use common sense when deciding how much work history to offer.  Of course, if you're applying for a job with the government you will have to disclose your entire work history.
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Tip 3:  Never omit dates of employment in an attempt to hide your age or cover up an unstable work history. The reader knows instantly you're trying to hide something.  However, one can leave off jobs held for a very short duration or omit the earliest part of their work history to hide employment gaps and periods of job hopping.

Tip 4:  Never mention anything about salary or give a reason for a job termination on your résumé unless you're applying for a position with the federal government.  These topics should be left for the job interview.

Tip 5:  Avoid unsubstantiated claims and overused clichés.  For example, too many people state they have "excellent communication skills", but very few people offer any information on their résumés to back up this claim. 

Tip 6:  The reader of your resume is familiar with what a person in your field does on a daily basis, therefore, avoid long, detailed job descriptions offering your daily routine tasks that anyone in that position would perform.  For example, everyone knows that a receptionist answers the phone and greets visitors, so it's pointless to put this on a résumé unless the receptionist answered an unusually large number of calls and greeted dozens of visitors each day.  For example, a receptionist might write that she "Answered 250 telephone calls on the complex Acme 4576 telephone system and greeted more than 50 visitors each day".  If you don't have any remarkable information to offer about your routine job duties leave them off of your resume.  Instead, offer a brief summary of your job duties and focus on your achievements and skills. 

Tip 7:  Leave off the ubiquitous "references available upon request" at the bottom of your résumé.  Both employers and recruiters consider this phrase to be rather silly since everyone is expected to provide references.

Of course, if your resume gets you job interviews; don't change a thing about it, even if it violates common rules of resume writing.  Some people have a vast network of contacts and can get a job without a resume at all or with one that is poorly written.

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