The Four Resume No-No’s

You know your resume better be brilliant because that flimsy sheet of paper is going to decide your employment fate. People have so many errors on their resumes nowadays that it is blinding. Most employers aren’t going to waste their time looking at a piece of paper with such elementary mistakes. There are four glaring resume errors that we need to discuss to save you the humiliation and job rejection that happens to hopeful job seekers on a daily basis.

Take out the irrelevant information. Seriously. No offense, but no one cares that you had the best smile on your dance team or that you baked the best brownies in home economics. Employers want to see information about your skills and how you can be an asset to their company. If you happen to come along with some great baking skills then they lucked out. Show employers that you are good at communicating and delivering what they want to see.

If you are going to take the time to rack your brain remembering years worth of experience, then take the time to make your resume presentable. I don’t mean putting it on pink paper and spraying it with perfume in a Legally Blonde Elle Woods manner, but take some time to format it. Make sure the font is the same throughout the page, the spacing is appropriate, and everything is legible without smushing all the content together. Bottom line – don’t be lazy!

This next no-no should be obvious: don’t be boring. If you were a secretary don’t say “I did administrative work”. Wow, really? We all know what secretaries do. But how did you stand out? How are you different? Have vibrant explanations that an employer will remember. Next you need to remember your focus. Center in on the job you are applying for and shine the spotlight on your accomplishments that relate to the job.

Finally, don’t have large chunks of text cluttering the paper. It is much easier for an employer to quickly scan your accomplishments then try and read large paragraphs of text. Keep your resume clean, simple and employer friendly. Just remember that you are writing a resume, not a novel.

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Explaining the Gaps

Those employment gaps on your resume can raise plenty of red flags for employers. Their imagination is running wild and they will think of anything and everything that you did in those unexplained 4 years away from work. Maybe she married rich and left the workforce. What if he won the lottery and went on an African safari? I bet she robbed a bank and was locked up for a few years. Yes, these answers can be absolutely absurd. But they are legitimate until you are able to explain yourself. No one can clarify the glaring gaps on your resume better than yourself. So Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do!

First of all, don’t worry if you have employment gaps. Most people do. Whether it was a pregnancy or a sickness that kept you from work, you most likely need to explain this to prospective employers. What better way to do this then a cover letter. One of the great uses of a cover letter is to explain why gaps exist – hiring managers never like to guess! The more time you take to explain up front, the better chances you have at landing the interview and ultimately the job. Contrary to popular belief, most employers actually do have a soft side and they can understand your situation. Just because you were out of the workforce for a few years doesn’t mean you lost your talent or capabilities. Prove to them in your cover letter that you are still smart, qualified, enthusiastic, and driven in any position you are given.

This is why cover letters exist – to give details about your work history and clarify any bumps that you experienced along the way. Don’t let employers’ imaginations run wild. Give them a reason and they will respect you as a candidate.