By Arnie Fertig
2. Resume appearance malfunction. Is your resume friendly to the beholder who wears bifocals? Non-standard fonts, small text with little to no space between sections, and narrow margins all raise red flags. Beyond the poor aesthetics, they may suggest you are the kind of person who is “bound and determined” to wedge too large a story into too small a space, rather than boiling down the salient aspects of your career achievements into a document which clearly speaks to the job to be filled.
Solution: Remember that your resume is not your unabridged autobiography. You aren’t obligated to show everything you have ever done and every place you worked. It’s a marketing document onto which you should put the things that are most germane. Use a standard font at a reasonable type size and forget all the lines, graphics, pictures, and colors.
5. Resume evasiveness. There are many things that job hunters typically try to “fudge.” Yet, overgeneralizations, squishy language, and omissions are not generally regarded well.
For example, job hunters in their 50s and 60s believe they can avoid age discrimination if they omit dates when degrees were earned. But just the opposite is the case. In attempting to skirt the age issue, you actually bring attention to it with your unstated but very clear message: “I don’t want you to figure out how old I am based on when I attended college.” Worse, you may potentially also raise the red-flag question: Is this job seeker trying to mask anything else of significance?
6. Key phrase banalities. Some job hunters aren’t certain of how to go about the process of writing an effective resume, and so they resort to words and phrases found in resume-writing books and other templates that might be good starting points, but not ending points. By adhering too closely to them, you are likely to sound like everyone else, without conveying any understanding of what you are really trying to convey. Using hackneyed phrases like “hard worker,” “out-of-the-box thinker,” “team player,” “excellent communications skills,” etc., offer your own conclusion about your talents and work ethic. But they do nothing to cause the resume reader to believe you or to come to the same conclusion. Instead, show examples of your out-of-the-box solutions and talk about times when your actions really did benefit your team.
If you take the time to lower these red flags, you will raise the likelihood of gaining the respect and positive attention of those who own the resume game.