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Avoid These 7 Deadly Sins While on the Road to the Righteous Resume

At a foundational level, all governments, religions, and society at large harbor a similar theory: To achieve success, one must adhere to the established guidelines. Deviation from these guidelines never ends well. Within governments, choosing not to pay taxes earns you a trip to the courthouse, potential fines, wage garnishment, and even a stint in the slammer. The major monotheistic religions have doomed those who stray to an eternity in misery. Those who fail to follow general societal standards are likely to find themselves ostracized and alone. While not quite as dramatic as jail, hell fires, or shunning, there are things you may be doing with your resume that could result in dire career consequences.

At a foundational level, all governments, religions, and society at large harbor a similar theory: To achieve success, one must adhere to the established guidelines. Deviation from these guidelines never ends well. Within governments, choosing not to pay taxes earns you a trip to the courthouse, potential fines, wage garnishment, and even a stint in the slammer. The major monotheistic religions have doomed those who stray to an eternity in misery. Those who fail to follow general societal standards are likely to find themselves ostracized and alone. While not quite as dramatic as jail, hell fires, or shunning, there are things you may be doing with your resume that could result in dire career consequences.

7 Deadly Sins of Resume Writing

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After you’ve spent countless hours researching your dream job and working your network, the last thing you want is for your resume to be keeping you from getting hired. As you craft your next resume, avoid the following sins:

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  • Formatting. All of us want to be selected for the positions we apply for. Unfortunately, in our quest to be the rose among daisies, sometimes we can try too hard to stand out. There are templates and standard formats for a reason — a good resume is an easy-to-navigate tool for recruiters and hiring managers. Being overly creative in your format is a good way to ensure your resume finds its way into the wrong pile.
  • Errors. It is said that, “To err is human…” Well, in the world of resumes, to err can be the thing that stands between you and your dream job. And while humans do create and miss errors, spelling and grammar checkers can cause just as many problems. Do yourself a favor: Start with your spellcheck and grammar check programs, then re-read your resume, and then — this is the big one — allow a trusted friend or advisor to give your resume some added scrutiny. Maybe they’ll come back to you without any suggestions, but errors that seem small (missing punctuation, spelling errors, inconsistent titles, or erroneous dates) can cause those reviewing your resume to pause and wonder how serious you really are about the opportunity.
  • Length. In most cases, a one-page resume is appropriate, however two pages is not out of the question. That said, if you’re giving Tolstoy a run for his money, think about slimming things down.
  • Objective. Yes, objective statements did happen, however they’ve gone the way of the horse-drawn cart. They are antiquated and mostly serve no purpose. Just don’t do it!
  • Irrelevant Experience. Applying for a new accounting role? Ponder a bit before you start detailing out your experiences as a dance instructor. While you may have gained customer experience, the person hiring for an accountant doesn’t care if you can tango or merengue. You want the detailed accomplishments and skills you have to be applicable to the job for which you’re applying.
  • Tasks and Duties. We all have tasks we perform at work; however a resume shouldn’t read like a job description. Rather than simply stating what it is you do to earn your paycheck, showcase how the actions you’ve taken in performing your tasks and duties resulted in specific accomplishments. If you’ve helped resolve thousands of technical support issues for consumers, did your actions earn you any awards? Did you boost team productivity? And the big one: Were your actions related to an increase in profitability for the organization?
  • Photos. I’m not really sure when or why this became in vogue, but if you’re thinking about adding your professional headshot or any picture to your resume, refrain. Not only can your picture hurt your chances, it is distracting and just plain weird.

Maybe these sins don’t have quite the classic appeal as pride, greed, wrath, sloth, envy, gluttony, or lust, but they will thrust your resume into eternal peril just the same. Heeding this advice may not always get you the interview or position, but failure to avoid them will almost certainly result in disaster.

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About the Author

Michelle Kruse has more than 10 years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development. At?ResumeEdge, Michelle recruits and hires resume writers, provides training and ongoing support, manages strategic partnerships, and serves as a subject matter expert on the job search process.

Michelle Kruse
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