The look, feel, and font of the day’s standard résumé has changed as frequently as the screens we peruse them on, and yet “People are still making the same résumé mistakes they’ve always been making,” bemoans Blue Skies Résumé President Louise Fletcher.
“The number one problem people have,” she explains, “is what they think their résumé is. They approach it as a place to list every company they’ve worked at, when actually they should think of it as an advertisement or a promotional piece.”
“Not being concise enough is a huge problem,” concurs certified résumé writer Laura Smith-Proulx.
And not just because you could overshare your way out of an interview.
“If you have every job you’ve had on there since 1979,” she warns, “you’re opening yourself up to age bias.”
In the new millennium of buzzing smartphones and insta-résumé scanners, there’s only one form of discrimination worse than age bias — .pdf bias.
“Never send a Word or .pdf copy unless it’s specifically requested,” cautions Margaret Riley Dikel, author of the Guide to Internet Job Searching.
Assume, she counters, that the bigwig making the hires is breezing through the company inbox on a BlackBerry.
“Take your Word doc and convert it into the body of your email,” she advises.
No Clone Résumés
If the want ad asks for a .doc résumé, or if you’re swapping résumés in the flesh, make sure your résumé doesn’t have a long lost twin.
“If you use that Microsoft Word template, not only will your look-a-like résumé have tables which are hard for résumé scanning data systems to read, it will also, from a presentation standpoint, reduce you to appearing like every other candidate,” Proulx stresses.
Show Your Math
Unless you’re angling for a stint as a professional cliché writer, don’t bother thesaurus-digging for synonyms for “self-motivated,” or “forward-thinking.”
When it comes to speed-reading résumés, Proulx notes, the powers-that-hire want to see math, not language arts.
“Use metrics to back up what you’ve done,” she says. “If you worked on a great project, tell me what you did.”
“Most people,” Proulx adds, “just don’t back up and see what they can really do for an employer.”