Top 10 Things to Never Put on Your Resume

Resume infographic

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  1. Age, date of birth, words like young, youthful. Nothing can be gained by sharing this info other than giving the hiring manager a laugh.
  2. Marital/family/partner status. Sharing this info can make the employer uncomfortable and afraid to pursue you as a candidate as that they cannot take this into consideration legally.
  3. What year you started your degree. It doesn’t matter how many years it took – just the date you finished or anticipate to finish – unless you graduated over 15 years ago – in that case remove graduation date too.
  4. Social Security number or other confidential info if not asked for. You don’t want your resume to be thought of as something that has to be shredded or an opportunity for identity theft.
  5. Current or past salary & benefits. It looks tacky, no matter what the quantity of money made was. If an employer asks for it, include it subtly in the cover letter.
  6. Pictures or physical characteristics. Unless it’s a response to a shady ad or for modeling, it shouldn’t be requested either. Studies have shown very attractive can actually hurt your chance of getting a callback.
  7. Anything negative. Your resume should be a showcase of what amazing things you’ve done, and what amazing things you can do. Especially important not to have anything negative about past companies or coworkers.
  8. Why you left your job(s). Again, if asked, put it subtly in the cover letter. This emphasizes leaving companies, not an impression you want to create.
  9. Explanations for breaks in your resume. Highlight what you did in those breaks if substantial (include relevant volunteering or education breaks perhaps) but in no way should anything about personal issues or economy be brought in. Do not indicate you were sick, caring for a sick family member or took a child leave, do not say you were laid off and couldn’t find anything for three years. You want to give a positive feeling, and an impression that work is your #1 priority at all times.
  10. Grammatical or formatting errors. I know word does a lot for you, but no one will be as impressed by collages as they are by college. Not that patchwork isn’t pretty…but you need to carefully comb your resume for errors and print it to see how it looks formatted.
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Cover Letter Tales From the Dark Side *ahem* Inside of Recruitment

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Anyone have any job leads for a talented writer/editor in the Northern Connecticut area (Lakeville, CT ideally)?

Let me give props to my hiring manager who I’m quoting below for sharing some advice directly with you all. Next let me repay them by giving a shoutout to anyone reading this in Northern Connecticut. My hiring manager’s brother is a super accomplished writer/editor/Yale grad who needs a full-time job in the area (yes you should never school-name drop for yourself, it’s tacky, but no reason I can’t brag for a complete stranger). He’s also happy to make a  career change to internal and external communication/PR work.

Please feel free to post any leads/ideas in comments or email them to hookabrotherup@sharon.cc of even better, hook him up directly & see his writing style (while giving his blog a nice stat traffic spike) at http://www.explanationizer.com/

Now for the juicy stuff to help you…

“Thoughts from a hiring manager:
If there’s anything you can do to encourage people to include a cover letter–a REAL cover letter–you know, one that makes the connection between their resume/experience AND THE JOB THEY’RE APPLYING FOR, you’d be doing people on both sides of the interview process a HUGE service!”

In other words, ditch the, “I believe my skills and experience would be an asset to your organization for your open position.” That only makes you look bad.

Instead try, “I would kiss your feet everyday on my way into the office and bring you coffee from a street cart if you hire me to work at google. My 15+ years of experience buying street coffee combined with my foot fetish and unwavering, slightly obsessive desire to work at google would make me an ideal Recruiting Manager for your New York offices. I want to make an amazing place to work even better, and would make sure to get google back in the #1 spot on the best places to work list by bringing in the top talent of our city. I’ve done this for 12 different companies in less than three months at each blah blah blah.”

Hope you get the point kids…just don’t creep out the hiring manager either, so keep the fetishes mum, ok?

Shortlink directly to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-bJ

5 Basic Reasons Your Resume Wasn’t Even Viewed

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Of course as usual recruiting should be an objective science, but as that it’s humans and computer systems combined trying to figure out if they want YOU or someone BETTER than YOU to work for them, you might get knocked out of the pool quickly with these simple issues.

1. You saved your resume in a non-standard format (i.e. docx, wordpad, even occasionally pdf’s get tossed). Stick to a basic word format – you have nothing to lose.

2. You have an immature or inappropriate email address. Yes, this includes having your age or the year you were born in your email, not just sexykitten@hotmail.com – when you’re TimSmith88@yahoo.com, We know you’re 22ish, and probably don’t really have the 10 years of experience on your resume.

3. Your name. I would personally never discriminate, but I heard this from a coworker who did a large study in her masters program: 2 applications were put in for the same job, one with an ethnic name, one with a ‘white sounding’ name. The applications with the ethnic names were disqualified first.

Now I’m not saying to change your name, but if you have a more American sounding nickname or middle name, it might be worth trying to see if you get a better response. Just correct them at your interview, unless you always want to be known by this “American” name.

4. You applied to every job the company had posted on the website. Some job sites have spam guards that will think you’re a bot spamming them (when in reality you’re a human spamming them – because applying to every job IS spamming) and will delete your application.

Stick to only applying for jobs you’re qualified for and really want. There’s no way you want to be an engineer, custodian, hairdresser and an IT person – so don’t apply for them all.

5. Your cover letter is lousy, looks like it was written by someone else, or could have been written by anyone. It had spelling/grammar mistakes, or perhaps the company or recruiter’s name misspelled; it had clichés like ‘My skills and experience would be an asset to your organization’. If someone can’t take the time to cut and paste in the company name and title of where they’re applying for, then perhaps another ‘organization’ who doesn’t mind laziness will hire you!

Less Design is More – Top 5 Ways to Get Your Resume Thrown Out

25_1_3 Red Swans anad Floral Border Close-Up

 

1. Mail in a hard copy on floral stationary. Or any ‘stationary’. Could be that small companies or those with older hiring managers might be impressed with such efforts, but even those places generally want it faxed in. (On a side note: Can you believe people still use faxes? Sorry, I didn’t get it, do you mind sending it again? Oh, you have a confirmation receipt that it was sent? Isn’t that lovely.)

2. Email in a virtual copy on floral stationary. Or any ‘stationary’. Even the ones in outlook, like simple plaid, are completely unprofessional. Not for sending a resume, not for once you start a job.

3. Put a border on your resume or cover letter. Again, no design is professional beyond a small logo, if you have one. I’m not going to say that if you’re an artist you don’t have more leeway, but for everyone else, NO.

4. Put a picture on your application for any reason beyond modeling-type jobs. If it’s a job on craigslist requesting it, save yourself scumbags checking you out – just don’t apply.

5. Use the resume format template options in word. They’re generally terrible, and show up awkwardly. If you’re not a pro at word you’re better off just enlarging & bolding your name, headings (like “Experience” “Education” etc.), then center everything. Better yet, play with word when making your resume, and make yourself a pro. There are very few professional positions that wouldn’t benefit from those skills.

…I have yet to hear that poultry, kittens, or flowers on a resume helped to make that ‘special’ impression that helped someone snag the job they wanted…but maybe I’m hanging with the wrong crowd!

Hiring Tips from a CEO

(make that a fabulously-talented-yet-humble CEO)

Today I have my first guest blogger who’d like to anonymously share their opinion about hiring.

What’s yours? Send it over to me posts@sharon.cc and I’ll post it if I feel our faithful readers have something to gain from it.

Ever wonder what a hiring manager think when you apply for a position you’re not qualified for?

Do they think, well hey, you love kids, and want to help them, so maybe they’ll hire you to be a pediatrician even though you didn’t go to medical school? Apparently not. Here’s the real reaction: don’t over-reach if you need a job. If you’re secure and looking for a small advancement appropriate to your experience, well then good luck!

“Perhaps it is not your resume itself – rather it’s the content: do your job skills match what you are applying for?

You should realize that sometimes hundreds of people apply for the same job (although sometimes it is only a handful which may not be qualified, so don’t be discouraged completely).

If you aren’t getting interviews or responses to applications it may be that other applicants would be able to hit the ground running immediately, with little training; whereas you might seem to be a smart on paper if your resume is strong enough, but would need to be trained. 

If you know what you want to do, get an internship in the field.  Think outside of the box.  Ask people who work in the field to let you work for free.  Contact a non-profit that will let you work on your own schedule.  Call your college and speak to alumni in the field.  Ask friends and family who they know.  There are a number of non-profit organizations that can help with resumes. Start at the bottom up, with an entry level role in the field you want if necessary.

Sending a million resumes on Monster.com and other similar sites is a waste of time and energy.  Make sure your cover letter/resume matches what you are looking for. 

For instance, when I was hiring for a 10 hour a week job, I received almost 100 resumes.  People who were graduating applied and stated that they were interested in the job.  I knew they would quit the moment that a full time role was available elsewhere.  I only interviewed people who stated they were looking for a part time job and reasons why (for instance, a sophomore in college who would like to get experience to supplement education or someone looking to get back into the workforce slowly).

If you are getting interviews but not getting the job, you may need to look at your interview skills, how you come across (how do you look, how do you speak, do you have any weird mannerisms?) and how prepared you appear. Perhaps you could do mock interviews. Again, there are agencies that can help if you cannot afford to hire a professional.”

So there you have it ladies & gentlemen – a CEO is not thrilled that you’re under-qualified or not an appropriate fit but decided to waste time: both yours and theirs.

Put your energy into strong applications for positions you have a strong chance of obtaining!

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pWfpN-7g

12 Steps to a Career You Deserve


Hi my name is Sharon and I’m in a dead-end career/unemployed/underemployed….
All in unison: Hi Sharon.

Remember that you’re still the seller and that etiquette, manners, and patience will bring you much closer to your career goals than bitterness, laziness or rudeness.

1. Figure out what you’re actually qualified to do that you’d potentially enjoy, and reach within your bounds, overshooting them will be a wasted effort and give burn-out

2. Decide what type of position would suit you ideally, p/t, f/t, consulting, internship, etc.

3. Create a consistent, professional brand and profile for yourself: resumes & cover letters for various industries/target audiences, business cards, online web presence, thank you letters, elevator pitch, etc.

4. Apply to advertised jobs with targeted cover letters – I’ve seen many resumes thrown out because the objective or cover letter is targeted to a different job – make it crystal clear why you want THIS job, and why you’re qualified for THIS job, but feel free to mention what else you’d consider or to keep things broad

5. Send your resume to places you want to work, explaining why you want to work there & what positions you’d like, even if they don’t have advertised positions

6. Network with people in the industry you want to be in

7. General networking: make sure everyone you know or meet knows what you’re looking for and why

8. Follow up with sincere, personally written thank you notes to everyone who does anything for you in the process from introductions to interviews – but NEVER give a deadline or imply one, i.e., “I hope to hear from you regarding your decision by September 1” – it’s in poor taste, and perhaps it takes a month for the company to come to a decision – do you want the company to think you’re not longer interested because they couldn’t accommodate you?

9. Present your very best: have an excellent dark suit, pressed collared shirts, and classic bags/shoes/accessories/portfolios to present at interviews. Have something a little more daring for networking events to look professional but stand out of the crowd.

10. Confidence works: Interview and network like you’re everyone’s favorite person, try to figure out culture of others and tailor all responses and actions to where you are – when in Rome, do as the Romans

11. Realize that different strokes work for different folks: just because a technique landed your last job, don’t expect it to automatically work again

12. Negotiate offer, unless it’s clearly set in stone. Never expect to get more than you’ve asked for previously, and don’t expect much more than a job was advertised or offered at. Most companies figure nowasdays that they can find someone to do the job at the salary they want to pay, and they’re OK if that person isn’t you – but generally it doesn’t hurt to ask if a little more is available due to your extraordianary skills, value and talents you bring to the company. Reinstate why you want this role, why you want to work for the company, but is there any room for flexibility?

It can’t hurt – if a place rescinds your offer because you asked to negotiate you probably don’t want to work there anyway…that’s not nice!

Short link: http://wp.me/pWfpN-61

I Beg to Differ

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As they say with opinions, everybody has one…

I just came across this recommended cover letter, and this reminded me that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I were this candidate, I’d say include nothing but paragraph 2 – unless you have a connection or introduction to the company. If they’ve already heard about you, I think it’s safe to say a bit more about your story. If you’re a stranger and submit a 500+ word cover letter, it’ll look generic (what’s generic professionally you ask? http://wp.me/pWfpN-q) and will probably not get read. It’d be skipped entirely likely, and then defeats its purpose of being your great marketing tool & first impression.

So if you have an intro to the company, then maybe throw in 3 bullets max about your value/accomplishments, and then sign off with your thanks & contact info (even if it’s in the resume, you want to make it ridiculously easy for them to get in touch with you).

Do also include in your cover letter other relevant info, i.e. if you’re applying to a position that requires relocation, outline your enthusiasm for moving to their location & that you’d be available to do so within one month of receiving an offer (or sooner!). Or if the position requests a salary history, I recommend putting your most recent salary in the cover (unless you’re in a step down position due to economic need, then you might want to skirt the issue). I hate seeing dollar amounts in resumes, I think it looks greedy (see tip #2 http://wp.me/pWfpN-1P).

I believe a cover letter should be a short introduction to who you are, what you can do that will benefit the company you’re applying to, and not much else. It is not a speech – you should not be ‘saying what you’re going to say, saying it, and then saying what you said’.

Just say it, and then prove it with your resume. Oh, and then use all your swagger and hustle to impress them at the interview. Then write the most sincere, politely thank you note you can muster with ZERO sense of pathetic desperation and minimal sucking up.  Then graciously thank them for their generous offer, but ask gently, is this open to negotiation? (More on negotiating an offer here & more to come another time: http://wp.me/pWfpN-x).

And don’t forget, have fun. Recruiters, HR people, and hiring managers are reading a LOT of resumes and cover letters. Don’t be afraid to use a drop of subtle humor to keep yourself and whoever may be reading your resume entertained. Yes stay professional, but that’s not the same as dull. Unless you’re an accountant. In that case rock on with your dull self.