4 Things to Avoid When Writing Your Resume

One: Using a template to write a resume

The key to writing a resume that gets traction is to showcase how different you are from others applying for the same position. This begins by writing an eye catching resume that stands out in a crowd.

By using a resume template [a commonly used outline of what a generic document should look like] you defeat the purpose of presenting yourself as special and unique. What you actually accomplish by using a template is coming across as one of many potential candidates in the middle of the pack vying for the same opportunity. This is especially true in fields like marketing where creativity is an essential value that you can showcase but fail to do so by using an overused and often outdated generic template.

In addition, there are so many generic templates to chose from you still need to know how to choose the one that is best for your needs, and most people do not know how to make this choice.

Two: Beginning your resume with an Objective

There’s much debate about the value of using an objective statement but the consensus among people in the know is not to use one. The reason is that most self-written objective statements focus on what an employer can do for you as opposed to what you can do for them, or a combination of the two.

My preference is to replace an objective by opening the resume with a job title that indicates the position being sought followed by a well defined brand slogan that begins the marketing process of setting you apart from others who covet the same position.

Three: Compiling the wrong information

From extensive research I have found the writing process with most online resume services and quite a number of professional resume writers begins with a questionnaire focusing almost exclusively on what the candidate has offer; this is also how most people go about writing their own resume.

Well I have news for you, when preparing a resume the research should focus on what employers want to buy not on what you have to sell. I (and I’m sure you do to) always hear people complain that they’re perfect for a job but were passed over because they were deemed overqualified. Well the first hint they sent that they were overqualified was the resume they submitted. This may have been avoided if they’d simply know about this resume writing tactic.

Four: Describing who you were 

Most people write a resume that reads like an obituary; was there, done that, responsible for yada yada yadda.

The key to a resume is to let people see the professional and leader you can be rather than the person you formerly were. A resume needs to exude confidence that you are up to the task at hand and can hit the floor running and do a bang up job. Again this can only be done best by building an employee profile of the desired hire and making yourself fit the bill as convincingly as possible.

As usual I am available to offer a professional critique of resumes and offer thoughts on how to improve them. Just send your resume to perry@perrynewman.com. No cost/no obligation.

Perry Newman CPC/CSMS is a nationally-recognized career services professional; an executive resume writer and career transition coach, certified social media strategist, AIPC certified recruiter and charter member of the Career Rocketeer team. Passionate about all things related to career management, Perry has been critiquing Career Rocketeer readers' resumes at no cost since 2009. For a complimentary critique, email your resume to perry@perrynewman.com.

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  1. Great advice, Perry! Templates and objective statements are certainly a thing of the past. Job seekers should focus their efforts on creating customized, concise, and unique resumes that clearly express their qualifications for each position they are applying for.

    • Great advice! Really valuable article.. I will be sharing with my social networks. May have to take you up on that resume critique!

      On another note – what’s your take on non-traditional resumes? For example, the recent trend in “infographic” resumes?

  2. Your article is very thought provoking. We are so trained to populate the template, mainly I believe because we have difficulty articulating our unique selling proposition and have such an employee mentality (what is in it for me), as opposed to what can I do for you, the Employer.
    Many thanks.

  3. Perry,

    Good points, especially about Objectives and “tombstone” resumes (“here lies John J., who held the positions of…”). Having written and edited more than 1000 resumes in my Career Consulting career, I’m dumbfounded when supposed professionals in our field still recommend starting with an Objective.

    Nearly as mind-numbing is the resume-writer who merely lists the candidate’s jobs and responsibilities (i.e. what the person was SUPPOSED to do, not what was actually accomplished). To me, that approach is just plain lazy. Accomplishments are the evidence that one can do what one claims to be able to do. Confidence may be central to job search success, but without quantified accomplishments it comes across as misplaced optimism at best, deviousness at worst.

    Job-Seekers: do the more difficult work of recalling and quantifying your work or volunteer accomplishments. Employers will pay attention if they’re relevant to the employers’ needs.

    Want more on accomplishments? e-mail me.

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