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Top Ten Pitfalls of a Resume

Ten things to avoid when creating an entry-level resume

By the editors of gecc magazine




1. Too long

Most new graduates should restrict their resumes to one page. If you have trouble condensing, get help from a technical or business writer or a career center professional.

2. Typographical, grammatical or spelling errors

These errors suggest carelessness, poor education and/or lack of intelligence. Have at least two people proofread your resume. Don't rely on a computer's spell-checkers or grammar-checkers.

3. Hard to read

A poorly typed or copied resume looks unprofessional. Use a computer. Use a plain typeface, no smaller than a 12-point font. Asterisks, bullets, underlining, boldface type and italics should be used only to make the document easier to read, not fancier. Again, ask a professional's opinion.

4. Too verbose

(using too many words to say too little). Do not use complete sentences or paragraphs. Say as much as possible with as few words as possible. A, an and the can almost always be left out. Be careful in your use of jargon and avoid slang.

5. Too sparse

Give more than the bare essentials, especially when describing related work experience, skills, accomplishments, activities, interests and club memberships that will give employers desired information. Including membership in the Society of Women Engineers, for example, would be helpful to employers who wish to hire more women, yet cannot ask for that information.

6. Irrelevant information

Customize each resume to each position you seek (when possible). Of course, include all education and work experience, but emphasize only relevant experience, skills, accomplishments, activities and hobbies. Do not include marital status, age, sex, children, height, weight, health, church membership, etc.

7. Obviously generic

Too many resumes scream, "I need a job—any job!" The employer needs to feel that you are interested in that position with that company.

8. Too snazzy

Of course, use good quality bond paper, but avoid exotic types, colored paper, photographs, binders and graphics. More and more companies are scanning resumes into a database, so use white paper, black ink, plain type, and avoid symbols, underlining or italics.

9. Boring

Make your resume as dynamic as possible. Begin every statement with an action verb. Use active verbs, describing what you accomplished on the job. Don't write what someone else told you to do; write what you did. Take advantage of your rich vocabulary and avoid repeating words, especially the first word in a section.

10. Too modest.

The resume showcases your qualifications in competition with the other applicants. Put your best foot forward without misrepresentation, falsification or arrogance.

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