Sunday, April 25, 2010

Resume Etiquette

Employers judge you before they meet you. They look at your resume and cover letter to determine if you are suitable for the available position. Therefore, the impression you create with a resume and cover letter is critical, because it is the first step towards landing a job. In my opinion, it is the most important. Employers won't grant you a minute of their time if your resume and cover letter display unprofessional behavior. Don't freak out, though. There are ways to avoid leaving the wrong impression.

Here are 13 Ways Your Resume Can Say 'I'm Unprofessional' by Marc Cenedella:

1. Random/cute/shared e-mail accounts

2. Failure to proofread

3. Including photos

4. Unprofessional voicemail

5. Using lazy words including 'etc.' and 'same as above'

6. Cookie-cutter resumes

7. Resume exceeds two pages

8. Listing a spouse as a reference

9. Not spelling out the name of an employer or school

10. Not providing a city or state for an employer or school

11. Omitting the area code from a phone number for a reference or employer

12. Providing only a first name for a supervisor or reference

13. Including phone numbers that are no longer in service for references or employers

Cenedella's list hits all the common resume mistakes. However, it doesn't hurt to add to the list. Below are my contributions to Cenedella's tips.

1. Pay attention to typography- First, fonts should be either 11 or 12 points. Never go lower or higher unless for the header and section titles. Second, don't use fonts that are difficult to read. Good choices are Times New Roman and Arial. Lastly, maintain one font throughout the resume.

2. Do not include hobbies- Only supply information relevant to the job. The information you provide should show your value to the organization or company. So, unless your hobbies add to your experiences and achievements, do not insert them in your resume. Employers want to see skills, not unrelated hobbies.

3. Avoid intricate designs- Resumes should never contain fancy designs or colored background. But, it is acceptable to use a border and shading. Keep it formal and the employer will thank you for one less headache.

4. Avoid redundancy- Using pronouns such as "I" or "me" are not needed. Employers already know your resume is about you. Furthermore, statements including "available for interview" or "references upon request" are a given. Employers expect you to be available for an interview or to present references if inquired.

5. Unprofessional ring-back tones- The rule for voicemail applies to ring-back tones. So, using Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot as your ring-back tone would not be a good idea.

6. Never use slang- Nothing says “I'm unprofessional” like a cover letter that begins with "what's up" and ends with "laters." Don't use slang in any business document.

7. But, do use action verbs- Write in a way that shows your intelligence, professionalism, and expertise. After all, you are writing for an employer in a mid to high-level position. Action verbs are a perfect way to prevent weak wording and to get your message across to the employer. Visit this site for a list of action words.

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