Written by Kim Kovach
Submitted by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC
Original Publication Source:
NATIONAL BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT WEEKLY
From the Publishers of the WALL STREET JOURNAL
Jim Pallouras was a senior executive at a national
retailer based in the Northeast when he was laid off as part of a downsizing
last year. He'd joined the company after leaving the military, worked his way up
the ladder and took pride in his contributions as the retailer expanded
When Mr. Pallouras sat down to update his resume for the
first time in years, he was faced with the challenge of condensing a 30-year
career full of achievements into an effective one - to two-page document. Yet,
he remembers thinking, "How hard could it be?"
He started by listing every important aspect of his
life dating back to the 1960's including every job title he'd held at his former
employer, as well as his accomplishments from high school through the Army. When
he was done, his resume stretched to three pages, starting with an objective
statement and ending with his marital status.
Once Mr. Pallouras' resume reached employers and
recruiters, they took one look before dropping it into the wastebasket. It was
wordy, overdone, and out of touch with the realities of a '90s job hunt.
Fortunately, it wasn't long before Mr. Pallouras realized his resume had
problems. After gathering critical advice, he revised it to present a more
competitive version of himself. The rewrite worked. His new, improved resume
generated interviews, which led to another senior-level position.
Executive recruiters, professional resume writers and human
resource managers say they've seen more poorly written resumes cross their desks
recently than ever before. So before you waste time, money and postage with a
resume that will eliminate you from consideration, review the following common
mistakes to make sure you avoid them in your documents:
Mistake #1: No Dates Listed
"I can understand that by leaving
off dates, the candidate's intention may be to avoid possible age
discrimination," says executive recruiter Edward M. Hughes, Vice President of
Hughes & Podesla Associates in Somerville, N.J. "But most corporate recruiters
use resumes to screen out rather than screen in candidates."
From a recruiter's perspective, candidates eliminate recent job dates on their
resumes for only one reason: to hide information, such as a history of
job-hopping or a long period of unemployment. As an alternative, Mr. Hughes
suggests focusing only on the last 10 to 15 years of your professional
experience and using a NOTE section for older experience where dates don’t need
to be listed
"It's a double-edged sword," he
says. "You want to diminish the negative and do everything you can to get an
interview. But the people on the recruiting end tend to be myopic to the fact
that the economy has put many well-qualified senior execs into the position of
having to vie for fewer jobs, and you have to be somewhat sensitive to that."
Mistake #2: Few Achievements Shown
The most frequent resume faux pas is
to fill it "with unsubstantiated claims and too much industry jargon that
doesn't sell the candidate," says Alesia Benedict, Executive Director of
GetInterviews.com, a resume-writing firm in Rochelle Park, N.J.
"A resume is a marketing document
designed to sell your skills and strengths," she says. By including and
highlighting specific achievements that present a comprehensive picture of your
marketability, Ms. Benedict says that you'll attract many more interview offers.
Mistake #3: Outdated Information
A glaring red flag on many resumes is job descriptions
dating back 30 or more years. "A resume isn't your biography," says Ms.
Benedict. Employers want to know "what you've done lately, so including
information from the 1970s is hardly relevant and can do much more harm than
good," she says.
Mistake #4: Calling Yourself a Consultant
Many candidates use the term
"consultant" to describe their current work status. But unless you can quantify
your consulting activities, recruiters and hiring managers will be skeptical.
"The consultant title tends to be
death on a resume unless a specific task and result are stated and the
consulting project is for a recognizable concern," says Steven M. Lavender,
president of Morgan/Webber Inc., an executive search and consulting firm in
Mistake #5: Irrelevant Information
Recruiters and HR specialists agree
that listing personal information isn't appropriate or necessary on an executive
resume, and including your photograph is the worst offense of all.
"Your resume is the one step in your
job search over which you have total control," says Frank Fox, executive
director of the Professional Association of Resume Writers in St. Petersburg,
Fla. "Based on the strength of that one or two pages of information, you'll
either be selected for an interview from among hundreds of other candidates, or
passed over." Thus, every word you include should be meaningful and help to sell
your skills and experience.
Don't Forget to Network
For unemployed senior-level
executives, handing out resumes should be a full-time job. "Eighty percent of
jobs are filled through networking, so contact absolutely everyone you know -in
addition to head-hunters-who's in a position to hire you" or suggest others for
you to meet, says Mr. Hughes.
"Networking can include personal
business contacts, people you've worked for, people who worked for you but have
moved on, vendors and sales representatives you've dealt with in the past five
years, and even people listed in the alumni directory of your alma mater," he
With an impressive resume in hand you'll greatly increase
your odds of earning a closer look.
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