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RESUMES

INTRODUCTION    THE BASICS    WHERE TO START?

    TYPES OF RESUMES:    Chronological    Functional    Combination

RESUME DO'S AND DON'TS    10 QUICK TIPS FOR RESUME SUCCESS    9 WORST RESUME MISTAKES
10 WAYS YOUR RESUME IRKS HIRING MANAGERS    DON'T MAKE THESE MISTAKES
    RESUME LINKS    STYLE TIPS

WHAT'S IN A NAME    CONTACT INFORMATION    WORK EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION & SKILLS


NINE WORST RESUME MISTAKES

  1. Heavy resume paper, elaborate design and other embellishments help job seekers stand out.

For years, expensive resume paper was required by any candidate wishing to be taken seriously--but this point is now moot since human resources prefer electronic submissions. "We don't like to get paper of any kind," says Doreen Collins, a manager for global staffing quality initiatives at General Electric,  "and if we do get hard copies we just scan them into the system." That's because GE, like most companies, uses an electronic resume management system to sort through prospective hires.

As for eye-catching design and graphics: do without them. Such ornamentation only makes your resume more difficult to read for a hiring manager who has hundreds of others applicants to sift through. The harder you make it for someone to discern your qualifications, the less likely it is that you'll be deemed qualified. And in this electronic age, curlicues put you at a further disadvantage.

"We get a lot of resumes with graphic files, fancy fonts, even banners," says Collins, "but the electronic system rejects them." Hi-tech attention-getting can actually take applicants out of the running altogether.

  1. Include an objective at the top of your resume.

Bad idea says Peri Hansen, a principal with recruiting firm Korn/Ferry. "It's the fastest way to pigeon-hole yourself," she says. Specify "Asset Manager" and you may not even be considered for "Financial Planner." "The one exception may be if you're trying to transition from one career into something very different," says Hansen. "An objective explains why your experience doesn't obviously apply to the opening."

A much better idea: Identify your goals in the cover letter so they can be tailored to each position you apply for. And yes, despite the convenience and speed of e-mailing a resume, cover letters are still very much required. "When you only get a resume, you worry that someone's just sitting on Monster.com hitting the 'send' button," says GE's Collins, "without any serious interest in the job."

  1. Including a paragraph summarizing your skills.

If you need to summarize your skills at the end of your resume, then you either have one very poorly written resume or you are being redundant. Neither of these things appeal to employers. "Any skills or expertise you have should be addressed in the accomplishments you list at the jobs you've held," says Hansen.

  1. A "functional" resume will do a better job of highlighting your unique skills and expertise than one that simply lists your positions in chronological order.

Functional resumes--which detail skills instead of listing positions--won't help manipulate how prospective employers perceive you. "People use them to hide a gap in their employment," says recruiting firm Ray & Berndtson's Chief Executive Paul Ray Jr., "or to demonstrate that their skills can be applied to many positions." But the format makes managers suspicious and more intent on piecing together a timeline of your employment--and it's also a tough read. "After reading these resumes, you have no idea what the hell people have actually accomplished at their old jobs," says Ray.

  1. Submit your resume for jobs that you know you're not qualified for, if they're at companies where you'd like to work.

"A lot of time people will apply just because they see it's GE," says Collins, "but when they're not appropriate, it really just frustrates us."

Another big gaffe: mass mailing your resume to every headhunter and contact you know with all of their e-mail addresses listed in the "Cc:" line. "It's amazing how many people do that," says Dennis Spring, the principal at New York-based recruiter Spring & Co. "Not only is it bad manners, but it makes you look like you're plastering your resume all over the planet. In my mind that makes you a much less desirable candidate. We are only looking for people who are strategic in their thinking, and present themselves in a very targeted manner."

  1. Keep resume length down to one page.

Yes, they drilled this into our heads in college, but we're grownups now with much more experience. The acceptable length for a career spanning over six or seven years is two pages, according to Korn/Ferry's Hansen. "As long ago as you may have held a job, or as short a period of time you may have held it, you don't want to leave out anything that you did," she says. "If you go to three pages you've either worked a very, very long time or are being verbose."

  1. Sharing information about yourself as a person--such as hobbies and memberships--creates the image of a well-rounded individual that employers prefer to hire.

"I don't really care what kind of a person you are," says Ray, "I want to know what you can do for me." There is also such a thing as too much information. Maybe the person reviewing your resume happens to detest cat lovers.

  1. Note that references are available upon request.

Of course they are. "That just wastes paper," says GE's Collins, "and it makes you look dumb."

  1. For each position you've held, you only need to list the name of your employer and their location.

"Don't assume that people reading your resume know what your company does," says Hansen. If you work for a relatively unknown firm, describe the business, note its revenues and maybe how old it is. "Otherwise I have to go online and look up a company description," says Hansen. And wasting a recruiter's time is not a good idea.

Forbes.com