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Resume Mistakes That Will
Kill Your Job Search

by Linda Matias

There are many things you donít have control over during your job search. You canít control whether or not a hiring manager will call you, what questions you are asked during your interview or if they will call you back for a second interview.

Thankfully, there are some aspects to the job search process that you can manage and the way you are represented in your resume is one of them; this is one of the main reasons why your resume is so important.

In order to create a successful resume, it is essential to be aware and avoid the following resume mistakes:

"Borrowing" Resume Copy
Resumes can be hard to write. It is easy to get stuck on how to best phrase your accomplishments or what to leave out of your resume. When difficulties arise, it is tempting to seek help from other sources, such as copying accomplishment statements from resume books or borrowing information from a friendís resume. This tactic almost never works. It can also backfire on you. For example, if you copy from a book, you run the risk of the hiring manager reading that book and seeing your resume in there!

Your accomplishments, skills, and abilities deserve to be showcased in an original way that best sells you. Take the time to create your own style and look to your rťsumť.

Writing a ďMe-OrientedĒ Introduction
Your objective or profile statement is the first section of a resume that hiring managers read. This section must be compelling and showcase the immediate contributions you can bring to an organization. This can be the hardest part of the resume to write and unfortunately, most job seekers donít pay much attention to this section. Many write a statement that is meaningless.

For example, the most famous resume introduction Ė Seeking a challenging position where there is room for growth. What is this objective statement really saying about you? Nothing at all! By using this type of introduction, the only message you are sending to an employer is that you are not interested in the hiring organizations needs, only your own.

Unfocused Job Objective
Without a doubt, writing a resume with the premise of, ďI donít care what type of job I get, I just need a job,Ē will lead to failure. A resume must be targeted to a specific objective. If this means that you need to develop more than one resume for each job objective, then so be it.

A focused job objective tells the reader the type of position you are seeking and describes key marketable and transferable skills you can offer.

Poorly Written Resume Copy
Many job seekers try to write a resume in an hour without taking inventory of their qualifications or researching the hiring organization. They also donít take the time to evaluate who they are, what they can do for an organization, and why an organization will want to hire them.

Compelling resume copy has three criteria:

  1. Key understanding of the audience
  2. Strong, succinct message of qualifications
  3. Relate past successes to the hiring organizations immediate needs

If your resume doesnít meet these three criteria, it wonít make the needed impact on the hiring manager.

Wrong Resume Format
The resume format you choose to showcase your career history is very important.

The two widely used formats are:

  • The chronological resume arranges your experience and education in chronological order, with the most recent dates first.
  • The functional resume highlights specialized knowledge, marketable talents that are in demand, and your strong vocational and transferable skills.

Regardless of which format you choose, be certain that the format supports your objective.

No Visual Impact
Fortune 500 companies spend a great deal of money on product packaging and presentation because they know customerís buying decisions are influenced by how a product looks. This same philosophy holds true for a hiring manager. When they have to sift through a pile of resumes, they will automatically be drawn to the resume that is easier for them to read. Combined with strong resume copy, a clean and easy to read resume layout will generate more positive responses.

Over-use of Bullets
The only purpose of a bulleted statement is to draw the readerís attention to key accomplishments. If every statement is bulleted, the reader will have a difficult time differentiating between them. Also, for maximum visual impact, combine the use of paragraphs and bulleted statements.

Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and Visit her website at or email her at


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