Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Resume Advice for Job Seekers

Recently, Jesaka Long interviewed two different recruiters and posted the results on her blog. If you find yourself in the position of looking for a new position, you may want to pop over and take a look.

I do want to emphasize one of the points made by Kristin Kalscheur. When asked about a common resume mistake, Kristin said, "Candidates will often fall into the pattern of listing job duties rather than accomplishments. ..." As part of my day job, I sometimes wade through stacks of resumes looking for 2-3 viable candidates to interview for a single position. I can tell you that lists of accomplishments get my attention. By listing accomplishments, you tell me that you understand why the job duties were important, that you were able to understand the business needs and deliver business value.

I would add to this the importance of carefully editing your resume before sending it to potential employers. If written English is not your strong suit, ask for help. Sending a resume full of spelling and grammar errors tells future employers that you do not take pride in your work and if they hire you, they can count on sloppy delivery. This is not the best message to send in a resume.

At this point, many of you are saying, "Duh!"

Everyone makes the occasional spelling, grammar or typing error. Electronic tools do not catch all these errors. For example, within the last year, a candidate for a V.P. position wrote that she was "perusing" a new position. I assume she meant "pursuing." Since pursue and peruse are both verbs, a grammar checker wouldn't flag the error. The incorrect word was spelled correctly, so a spell checker wouldn't flag it either. If this had been the only error on the page, I may not have noticed. However, she also misspelled the title of the open position - and all HR professionals should be able to correctly spell "personnel."

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I make my fair share of mistakes. Do I write my posts in a word processing system that has both grammar and spell checking? Yes. Do I use those tools to weed out errors? Yes. Do mistakes still get through? Yes. We are all human. We all make mistakes. However, resumes are important documents. They make a first impression and determine if you will get past the gatekeeper and have an opportunity to speak to a decision maker. It is worth the time and effort to ask for help. If nothing else, ask a friend to read your resume out loud to you. You may be able to hear mistakes that you did not see on the page.

Does anyone else have resume tips for job seekers? Please use the comments link to share.

1 comment:

Angela Wilson, author said...

She didn't know how to spell PERSONNEL and was applying for an HR job??? Oh, my.

I love to write. Fiction, news stories, blogs... You name, I can do it.

But resume writing? Nope. Nada. Zip. Zippo interest. I have a hard time trying to be creative there. Isn't that weird? I tried several different resume styles and types when I applied for more than 100 jobs during a 6-month unemployment stint. I got exactly two interviews from those. Didn't get either job. One job was an interview they had to do to fulfill their obligations before promoting from within. The other... Let's not go there. Ended up getting a job by knowing someone. The resume was secondary.

I think what makes it more difficult is that HR departments use scanning equipment now, rather than looking over a resume - or having the department manager look over it. They miss out on good candidates because the right people aren't actually reading it - just the results of the scans.