Résumé Writing Common Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Résumé Writing - Common Mistakes and How to​ Avoid Them
Creating a​ résumé or​ CV is​ central to​ the​ search for a​ job,​ but is​ something most of​ us hate doing .​
Unfortunately,​ very few people are adept at​ presenting themselves in​ the​ best possible light and this can mean their application is​ rejected at​ the​ first hurdle.
One of​ the​ biggest mistakes most people make is​ sending out the​ same résumé for every application .​
It’s a​ big temptation – you’ve spent hours getting the​ details and layout just right,​ or​ perhaps you’ve paid a​ considerable amount of​ money to​ have someone write it​ professionally .​
The trouble is,​ each résumé needs to​ be tailored to​ the​ job in​ question,​ and it’s vital that you do this if​ you want to​ stand out from the​ crowd.
What does tailoring a​ résumé mean? It simply means writing it​ specifically for the​ post you are targeting .​
To do this you must recognise the​ keywords the​ employer will be looking for and relate them to​ your own experience .​
Keywords will be found in​ the​ job description and person specification,​ or​ in​ the​ job advertisement and on​ the​ company website .​
They describe the​ skills,​ qualifications and experience needed for the​ post .​
Keywords should stand out on​ your résumé – don’t forget that in​ the​ first round of​ the​ selection process,​ résumé s are usually only given a​ 20 second glance .​
So if​ the​ interviewer doesn’t see what he’s looking for,​ your résumé is​ destined for the​ shredder.
Here’s an​ example of​ targeting: let’s say you are a​ secretary who speaks several languages and can take shorthand in​ all of​ them,​ but are applying for a​ job in​ an​ office where only English and audio are used .​
Languages and shorthand,​ impressive as​ they are,​ would not be the​ most prominent skills on​ your résumé .​
Instead,​ you would focus on​ the​ skills required,​ which might be fast typing,​ advanced Excel or​ Powerpoint .​
Languages and shorthand would be mentioned briefly,​ perhaps under the​ heading Additional Skills .​
Another common mistake,​ usually made by older applicants,​ is​ including their entire work and educational history .​
It’s usual (in the​ UK) for CVs to​ go back only 10 years in​ terms of​ work and if​ you have a​ degree,​ school qualifications can be omitted,​ unless specifically requested or​ relevant .​
Employers occasionally ask for a​ full CV,​ in​ which case you do have to​ include everything.
Choosing the​ wrong format can also condemn your résumé to​ the​ bin - different styles work best in​ specific situations .​
Many people stick to​ the​ chronological résumé,​ but this is​ not always the​ most appropriate .​
It works well if​ you have been steadily progressing up the​ ladder in​ a​ particular career,​ or​ if​ your most recent jobs are likely to​ impress the​ company you hope to​ work for .​
A skills-based or​ functional résumé is​ great if​ you have gaps in​ your work history,​ as​ you can use it​ to​ highlight the​ fact that you have exactly the​ skills the​ employer is​ looking for .​
It’s also useful if​ you are moving to​ a​ new career or​ area of​ work and your work experience isn’t completely relevant .​
A targeted résumé is​ aimed at​ a​ precise job or​ career,​ for example if​ you retrained as​ a​ teacher in​ your 30s or​ 40s and were applying for a​ teaching post,​ your work-related heading might be Teaching Experience and your main skills would all be relevant to​ teaching,​ for example using IT in​ the​ classroom and curriculum development .​
For soft skills,​ such as​ communication skills and team work,​ you would use examples from your teaching career.
You may need to​ have different styles of​ résumé for different applications .​
If we​ use the​ previous example of​ the​ secretary,​ she might have had a​ series of​ language related jobs and is​ now applying for linguist and non linguist posts .​
She could choose a​ chronological résumé for the​ language jobs and a​ functional résumé for the​ others .​
To sum up,​ individualise every résumé for the​ job concerned,​ choose the​ most suitable format for the​ situation and remember: keywords must jump out at​ the​ reader in​ the​ first 20 seconds.
© Waller Jamison 2005

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