Nine Things Not to Have on Your Resume and Nine Alternatives

June 27, 2013

by Dawn Boyer, ClearedJobs.net

Its been a long while since I posted anything even remotely related to my tab “Job Tips and Networking” so here goes.  To be general…

…Many job seekers put too much information on their resume. Unfortunately this extra information may hinder their job search efforts.

Nine Things Not to Have on Your Resume and Nine Alternatives

Recruiters look for hard facts on a resume. The warm, fuzzy, “Tell us more about you.” comes later in an interview. Here are some tips on how too much information in a resume can harm a job seeker.

1 ) Dump: An objective that takes up a quarter page of subjective self-aggrandizement that you think makes you look like a golden child. Recruiters don’t want to read this.

Alternative: Focus on your Summary and how your skills, talents and abilities match the requirements of the job for which you are applying.

2 ) Dump: Irrelevant job experience such as the Happy Hamburger Joint 30 years ago when you were a teen. Recruiters don’t want to read about non-relevant job experience, but they do want to know what you did during those absentee years between career-relevant jobs.

Alternative: If you have a job gap because it was a temp job, you were a stay at home mom or dad, or had a disability-related illness, don’t skip the time period. Note, ‘Non-career relevant activities’ or ‘Personal Home Manager, Private Client’.

3 ) Dump: Non-relevant or religious or political activities or affiliations such as team captain for your middle school swim team, Sunday school teacher, or that you ferry the neighbor’s kids to school daily.

Alternative: Recruiters are looking for ‘team’ activities as a conscientious adult – local or non-profit organizations volunteer efforts, as well as membership and activity in trade organizations. This activity may provide leverage for future business development for the company.

4 ) Dump: Your photo (physical descriptions) or any information about family, children, or marital status. Don’t note you are disabled (or a disabled veteran) or points preference (government jobs). This information is illegal for recruiters to ask – it may be used as an excuse not to hire you.

Alternative:  Ensure your availability is noted in a cover letter — “Interview availability: Mon. – Fri., 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and any time weekends.”  Let the recruiter assume you are 100% physically healthy and able to perform the work assigned to the job description.

5 ) Dump: Mentions of hobbies. Most recruiters don’t want to know what is done in your spare time as long as it doesn’t affect work.

Alternative: If your hobbies have won you awards, and aren’t ‘offbeat,’ it might be useful to show exceptional levels of performance. For example, “Gold Medal Winner, Triathlon, 1980 Olympics, Los Angeles, CA.”

6 ) Dump: Typos, poorly worded (or long) paragraphs, punctuation issues, and bad grammar. Recruiters may have a perfect candidate resume, but many will trash it upon spying the first typo.

Alternative: Learn what the wiggly green or red lines mean under a word in a word processing document. Use grammar and spell check. Ask a peer to proof.

7 ) Dump:  The sexy email address. Check your voice mail message – how does it sound to a future employer?  Recruiters don’t want to hear a husky ‘hey, baby’ voice message and won’t respond to SexxxyMama@ emails.

Alternative: Create an alternative email account used only for job search efforts that is your name. Add numbers if you have a common name. Leave a professional voicemail message that you would use in an office. No music. No kids. No “you know what to do at the beep.”

8 ) Dump: The most common mistake military service members make is listing social security numbers and birth dates on resumes. Recruiters don’t need these upfront.

Alternative: Most contractors will obtain your social security number, date and place of birth before scheduling an interview.

9) Dump: The fancy fonts, over-sized letters, colors, graphic lines, tables, columns, graphics, and logos are wasted. The recruiters won’t see these anyway. When a resume is uploaded into an online resume database, it’s converted to plain text. What gets sent to the hiring manager is a plain text version.

Alternative: Keep the resume simple. Bulleted lines of achievements, upper-case sub-sections, and blank lines between sections. This keeps it streamlined for the parsing engine to convert the resume information into database fields.

Dawn Boyer is a career services coach, social media management, human resources, and business development consultant. Follow Dawn on Twitter @Dawn_Boyer.

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