Does Your Resume Help You or Hurt You?

I was talking with a career counseling client the other day. He's a smart guy with a PhD and loads of great high tech experience. And still there were some basic things about his resume that were hurting him. So I got to thinking about that and wondering about how widespread this phenomenon is. As a corporate recruiter, you could say that I look at resumes for a living. I've got loads of experience reading resumes and I see all sorts of funny things each day. At least they would be funny if they didn't cause me to reject the resumes and move on. I've written before here on the subject and I point my new career counseling clients there first with a recommendation to read the article, to make any changes they see fit, and to send me an updated copy of their resume. Here are some new ideas:

1) If you're originally from another country and you are now a citizen of the country where you are looking for work, let the reader know that. Nobody wants to deal with someone who needs a visa to work unless they are desperate for talent. If you have the right to work and are not a citizen, then say that.

2) Your objective should state clearly what it is you want to do. It is not a catch-all for everything you may want to do. If you don't know what you want to do then do some work on that before you write your resume. Corporate recruiters want to know what you want to do.

3) If you have technical skills, you must integrate them into the experience section for each job where you used them. It is not enough to provide a long list of skills elsewhere on your resume. Corporate recruiters want to know what you used when and what you did with it.

4) If you submit your resume to a corporate site it will almost always end up in an applicant tracking system (ATS). If the ATS butchers your resume the corporate recruiter will ignore it and move on. So keep your formatting clear and simple. Almost all ATSs will handle an MS Word doc well unless you add lots of lines, multi-columns, and graphics. If you don't have MS Word then save your resume in a widely used and transportable format. Pdf is fine for email but often not fine for ATSs. Simple is best!

5) Some candidates believe that if applying for one job at a specific corporate site is good that applying for every job is better. All this does is makes you look desperate and non-discriminating. I see this all the time and it's a waste of my time to disposition the same candidate 20 times. This is not the way to encourage a corporate recruiter to look favorably at you.

6) It's a great idea to include hyperlinks on your resume to companies you've worked for and to samples of your work. Hyperlinks give the reader an easy way to find out more about you if they are interested in learning more. Consider adding links to your blog, your Linkedin profile, your twitter profile, and your Google profile. What? You don't have all of those? You'd better go read another article of mine that covers that and some other ideas on finding a new job.

7) Some candidates are just pests. They apply online, they call all their friends who work at your company to make internal referrals, and they call everyone they can who may be able to get them in the door. Is this bad? Well it surely shows enthusiasm and persistence and that's a good thing for some jobs such as sales, corporate recruiting, and account management. But nobody likes a pest and too much of this will hurt you. My practice is to return every call and email and every now and then I'll find a pest that I'll eventually ignore.

8) When you do secure an interview, make absolutely sure that you complete all paperwork clearly and completely. See resume is not an answer to a request for details of your past job experience. Incomplete or missing information will be interpreted as a strong indication of the quality of your work.

9) When you do secure an interview, do some significant preparation. Research the company and find out what they do. If you know the names of the interviewers then research them. Don't know how to do that? Better get busy finding out!

10) Throughout the whole job search process you are being judged and evaluated. "I didn't see your email" or "I didn't get your voice mail" is just lame. If you get an email from a corporate recruiter then take great care in how you respond. Typos and grammatical errors in email correspondence are just as damaging as on your resume.

If you have thoughts, comments, or other ideas please let me know.

Views: 42

Tags: application, help, hurt, interview, job, resume, search

Comment by Ambrish Kochikar on July 28, 2009 at 3:36am
It's taking longer than I thought it would for the momentum to build up and push out some old ways of thinking and old unproductive practices among job seekers and recruiters too. Most recruiters might work with candidates with years of experience in the workplace and little patience for learning the appropriate way to address the issues described above. This will make for excellent reading and a good start to a primer for job seekers everywhere.
Comment by Simon Meth on July 28, 2009 at 10:09pm
Hi Sandra,

Great to have you reading and commenting as always!


Comment by Simon Meth on July 28, 2009 at 10:10pm
Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for being so positive.


Comment by Simon Meth on July 28, 2009 at 10:13pm
Hi Ambrish,

Thank you for the comment. It's always good to examine "old ways of thinking". It's never good to throw out the old just because it's old and new isn't always better. Examination is the key.




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