Thursday, September 18, 2014

Résumé Mistakes

What are some the classic mistakes that job hunters make on résumés?  Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google, has posted a good article on LinkedIn with the top five common mistakes that he has seen.  It's a good list.  Here are Bock's top five, with some commentary from me:

1. Typos

I would expand his point to include grammatical errors, particularly on the cover letters that accompany résumés.  Poor writing plagues many cover letters.   Examples of writing deficiencies include:  overly complex sentences, improper use of commas and conjunctions, far too much use of the passive voice, and poor paragraph construction.  The list could go on! 

2.  Length

As Bock says, you should be aiming to land a first round interview, not to tell your life story.  You can expand the story during the interviews.  Focus on getting your foot in the door.

3.  Formatting

Bock recommends saving the document as a PDF since other formats can become troublesome as they are passed electronically across various platforms and devices.  Good advice!  He also argues that it should be a clean, easy-to-read document.  I would emphasize the need for plenty of white space.    You do not to jam every inch of the page with words.

4.  Confidential Information

Bock uses the example of a consultant who clearly reveals the names of clients.   Many consulting firms have confidentiality policies.  If an applicant breaks their current or past employer's confidentiality policy, that's a major problem.  

5.  Lying

Lying on résumés appears to occur quite often.  We have just seen a senior executive at Wal-Mart who lost his job due to a lie about his educational background.  We've seen CEOs lose their jobs over these types of lies.  I think the harder-to-detect lies are even more common, specifically exaggerating job responsibilities and accomplishments.  I also think that résumés sometimes fail to give proper credit to those who helped an individual achieve certain goals at a prior employer.  Was it a team effort?  Does the résumé reflect the fact that a team achieved the goal, not just that individual?  Not giving others proper credit seems to be a major issue in the job application process. 

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