Your resume is the all-important first step in the your search for a job, but don't expect it to close the deal.
Instead, craft it with a single objective in your mind: Get invited in for an interview where you can elaborate on and sell your qualifications in face-to-face communications with one or more decision makers.
Remember recruiters use resumes as an essential part of the screening process to help weed through the thousands of application they receive. By force of time, they have only seconds to scan the first few paragraphs of each document and decide whether they will dump it the wastebasket or read on.
Career Coaching Provides Dos and Don'ts Guidlines
Here are some dos and don'ts that will guide you in constructing a resume that will be read and acted on.
• Keep your resume short and to the point. In today's highly competitive job market, with unemployment in the neighborhood of ten percent, there is a temptation to go on and on, wanting to load the document with all of the positives that paint the best possible picture. But in the world of Twitter and the Internet, attention spans are severely reduced.
If you go longer, the reader can easily conclude that you can't organize and focus your thoughts. You might be seen as one of those people who talk too much.
The ideal would be one page with about 300 words, but that's next to impossible, so try for 700 words or about two pages single-spaced.
After all, one of history's most praised document, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, took only 250 words.
• Be honest. With the aid of computer screening programs it is easier than ever to pick up discrepancies in a document.
Still some applicants try to fudge on their qualifications. One study shows that nearly one-half of the resumes in 2008 contained dishonest information in educational, employment and credential references. Honesty is always the best policy.
• Avoid trite, shop-worn words and phrases, as well as professional jargon and acronyms, like the plague.
Don't spell out a litany of positions you have held. Instead, for example, if you were a sales manager, relate how sales were increased under your leadership. Recruiters hire people based more on their accomplishments than their experience.
Don't claim "strong communications skills." Demonstrate the fact by the effectiveness of your resume and cover letter.
Don't declare your ability "to think out of the box." Cite examples of your creativity.
Don't claim to be a "team player." Provide examples of how you achieved a goal by working with a team.
• Since on-line searches play such an important role in recruiting be sure to embed key words in your resume and cover letter. Don't go overboard to the point that you distort the syntax of your sentences. Research job postings and websites of companies and industry associations to identify words that are associated with the position for which you are applying.
• Whatever you do, don't allow a single error in spelling and grammar slip into your resume. One mistake is enough to send yours into the wastebasket. Get a friend, preferable one well versed in rules of the English language, to proof read your documents.
On a related point, be sure to check your appearances on social and business networks such as Facebook. Get rid of those pictures that show you in a questionable light.
Remember the purpose of the resume is to entice the reader to want to meet the person who wrote it in order to learn more about their qualifications.