Would you ever consider literally run around screaming “I'M UNPROFFESSIONAL” when looking for a job? Probably not, but have you ever considered that your resume might be taking care of that for you? You may be the “independent toiler” who constantly reviews and revises his resume but never seeks outside help, the “slapster” who throws down a list of random jobs and activities with no particular objective, or the “half-hearted” who puts only a little effort into her resume without realizing how important it is. No matter what category you fall into, anyone is subject to resume pitfalls that allude to unprofessional behavior and endanger your job search at first glance. Employers spend very little time (we’re talking under 30 seconds) initially reviewing a resume so you want to make sure that your message is not overshadowed by simple mistakes. Here are some tips on avoiding these unprofessional accidents:
1. Contact info/Headings: You’ve heard it again and again, but please avoid using cutesy or shared email accounts. No employer is going to take email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org seriously and using these types of account names will quickly diminish your credibility before they even get to the content. Also, make sure you include a phone number that you can actually, physically answer. Imagine what an employer will think if they call the phone number listed on your resume, only to reach your mom in Virginia who offers to pass a message to you back at college. Finally, ignore the temptation to include a picture of yourself in your resume or as an attachment. Photos can leave employers open to discrimination claims and if you choose that awesome, yet unprofessional beach babe shot from last summer you will yet again be undermining your integrity as a qualified candidate.
2. One-size-fits-all: In the world of resumes, one size does not fit all and cookie cutter resumes are not often looked upon favorably by hiring managers who view hundreds of resumes day after day. Sending one resume to all companies in your net is not going to land you a big catch, so instead customize each resume to fit the employer’s values and the job posting’s requirements. Highlight the specific skills and experience you have that relates to each job and take the extra time to make adjustments for each application. This will show the employer that you are truly interested in their company by including specific information related to them rather than a generic, “I’m so interested in the work your company does.”
3. Laziness: This mistake is the easiest to avoid with just a little effort. Have your resume proofread by at least 3-5 different people who can help you catch tiny errors such as spelilng, repeating the the same word twice, and suing the correct spelling, but the wrong word (did you catch all of those?). Also, refrain from using “lazy” words in your resume that leave it up to employers to fill in the blanks. Examples of this include: etc, same as above, and various. Be specific in highlighting your skills and if you have jobs with similar responsibilities, try to focus on different skills and accomplishments with each.