The only thing worse than not getting an offer is…

Getting an offer and having it rescinded because you misrepresented something on your resume. The reason I am writing this post today is because it has come to my attention on several occasions, just today, where people have blatantly lied about their dates or experience on their resumes. There are several ways that recruiters can cross check your information and see if you are telling us the truth aside from a background check:

1) We check to see if you have applied for prior jobs in the past. If something looks fishy, we will cross-check your most recent resume against prior resumes you have submitted to see if you show a different title or different dates on your resume. 
2) We cross-check your Linkedin profile against your resume. Often times they do not look the same and when we catch a discrepancy, it can give us pause.
3) We also Google you. Sometimes this will lead us to Facebook or other websites that might give us conflicting information from what your resume tells us.
Regardless, any type of discrepancy on your resume be it dates, employer, title, education etc… can lead to you not being hired, having a job offer rescinded or worse, being black-listed by those who know you in the community. 

Top 5 Do’s & Don’ts on your Resume

DO:

  1. Add your Linkedin URL to your resume if you have a well put together Linkedin profile and recommendations on your profile
  2. Have a summary of what makes you qualified (objectives are obsolete for the most part in today’s market) listed at the top of your resume
  3. Have a well formatted resume with: Position Title and Company listed on the left, dates aligned on the right and experience bulleted out
  4. List strong adverbs, such as facilitated, managed, organized etc… followed by your accomplishments, including where you have increased PEP (Productivity, Efficiency & Performance) of your past organizations
  5. Spell check your resume and have someone else look it over for grammatical, punctuation and/or formatting errors
DO NOT:

  1. List your reference contact information on your resume
  2. Include a picture or any bizarre graphics (unless you are in graphic design or related field)
  3. Use ALL CAPS or all italics to write your resume
  4. Lie about ANYTHING on your resume because it can all be verified
  5. Use different fonts and/or different sizes in the same sections. For example, if your sections titles such as “Experience” or “Skills” are in size 18 Ariel and bold, then that should be the same for every section head. The same goes for the font and size used for your bullet points.

5 Things to Avoid on your Resume

1) Generic statements. Using a generic statement, such as “customer oriented,” without backing that statement up with a result can hurt your resume. Anyone can say they are “customer oriented,” but unless they can back that statement up with evidence to support it, those are just words. Instead of using a generic statement such as “customer oriented”, use a specific example that illustrates how customer oriented you are, ie. “Achieved 100% customer satisfaction over 6 month period by listening to and understanding customer’s needs…”

2) Objectives. Objectives are rarely used anymore, and are becoming obsolete in many resume situations. Instead of using an objective, try replacing your objective with a “Summary of Qualifications” or “Achievements” section. If a resume is done well, it should already be clear to the employer what your objective is without having to state your objective outright.

3) Extraneous white space. One of the most common errors I see on a resume is the inefficient use of page space. Think of the page space on your resume as valuable real estate. Every space on your resume should be used to make a case for why an employer should hire you, and should not be wasted. Be especially careful of having too wide of margins. Having wide margins can  leave that valuable space unused!

4) Lengthy paragraphs. Employers do not take the time to read your resume, rather they skim. The same is true of lengthy paragraphs. In order to avoid an employer missing something important on your resume, use bullet points to highlight significant information, and to break apart your resume more clearly.

5) Choppy alignment. EVERYTHING on your resume should be properly aligned, especially your dates and employers. I often come across resumes where nothing is aligned or some of the resume is aligned and then the rest is all over the place. This does not work! You need to make your resume visually appealing and easy to read. Setting proper alignment can help do this. When you do not properly align your dates and/or other important information on your resume, it can cause your resume to look sloppy. Take the time to set the necessary tabs to make everything line up appropriately and come across more clearly.



Volunteer Experience

When you Volunteer, should you add your volunteer experience to your resume?

YES

There are two possible situations:

1) In the first situation, you may still be employed and be looking for another job. If the volunteer work you are doing while working is NOT in the field that you are looking to get into, then you do not need to list the volunteer work as a position on your resume. In that situation, your volunteer work can go at the bottom of your resume under accomplishments, hobbies, interests, groups, associations etc… If you are doing volunteer work in a field that you currently have no experience in, and are looking to transition into, then it is a good idea to to list your volunteer work as an actual position under your “Work Experience.”

2) In the second situation, you are unemployed and looking for a job. The longer you have been out of work, the more important it is to show something on your resume to explain what you have been doing since your last job. This could be temporary or contract work, or if you volunteer, you can list your volunteer experience as your most recent position. Employers like to see that you have been doing something since you got laid off.

It is important to note that when you list your volunteer work on your resume you should put (Volunteer) next to your experience so that there is no confusion!

Remember, volunteer work can be just as important as paid work, especially when you are learning new and valuable skills.

To list an address or not to list an address…

Yesterday I was speaking at a job seeker workshop and the question arose about whether or not one should list an address on their resume. My thoughts on this are that It depends on the situation. Some companies will require you to have an address, however, as wBurbank, there is a strong possibility that the company in Burbank will be reticent to bring you in for an interview. They might worry that you will get burned out from the commute and quit after a few months. The same is true for people who are relocating long distances. If a company can hire someone just as qualified as you, but the other person lives locally, chances are they will choose the person who lives closer rather than risk dealing with relocation costs and the chance that you might decide not to relocate after all.

It is also important to be careful about posting your resume on www.monster.com or www.careerbuilder.com with your home address. You never know who might find that information. For those candidates that do want to list their address or need to list their address for particular jobs, I always recommend getting a PO Box during the time that you are looking. Getting a PO Box can be a good way to avoid any unwanted solicitations. If you live out of area, you may want to consider leaving your address off your resume, getting a PO Box in the area you are relocating to, or finding out if you can use a friend’s address in the area you are looking to move to.

There is no right answer, but if you notice you are not getting interviews in locations that are further away, you may want to consider alternative options.

The top 5 reasons to start volunteering while you are looking for a new job

Many job seekers underestimate the power of unpaid/volunteer work. Potential employers like to see that you are making good use of your time while you are unemployed. Here are the top 5 reasons to begin volunteering during your down time:

1) Volunteering can help add valuable skills to your resume that you may not already have, or may enhance the skills you do have
2) Showing unpaid and/or volunteer work can help explain gaps in your resume
3) By offering your skills for free, you are showing a potential employer that you are willing to go the extra mile
4) It shows employers that you are committed to being productive, rather then sitting around hoping a job lands in your lap
5) IT IS A GREAT WAY TO NETWORK TO FIND A NEW POSITION!

Looking to spice up your resume with some strong action verbs?

While doing research for a recent resume writing workshop I was putting on, I came across this wonderful list of action verbs that I wanted to share:

Action Verbs

accelerate advise analyze approve arrange assemble assist build collect complete
conceive conduct control coordinate create delegate detect develop direct discover
distribute edit deliver demonstrate design eliminate establish evaluate examine expand
expedite formulate generate implement improve increase influence install instruct lead
maintain manage motivate obtain operate order organize originate oversee participate
perform pinpoint plan prepare present process produce program promote propose
protest prove provide purchase receive recommend record reduce reinforce reorganize
represent research revamp review revise schedule select sell setup solve
streamline structure study supervise support teach test train write

Are objectives necessary on a resume?

There are only two reasons, in my opinion, to have an objective listed on your resume. 

The first reason would be:

1) If you are a student with little to no work experience in a particular field, then it would be appropriate to add an objective so that the potential employer can see what type of job you are interested in.
The second reason would be:
2) If you are changing into a new career after already having worked in a different field. In this case it would be helpful to identify what new industry you are pursuing (if it is not already clear from the resume).
I personally think objectives are an outdated tool, and should be replaced with a “Summary of Qualifications” and/or nothing at all. If it is already apparent from your resume what your end goal is in a position, then repeating the information in an objective and/or “Summary of Qualifications” can be redundant.
If you are going to use the “Summary of Qualifications,” you should keep it short and to the point. There is no need to say more then 3-4 sentences maximum. Also, be sure not to repeat information in your “Summary of Qualifications”  that is already listed in other areas on your resume, otherwise you are just wasting page space.

If it is not broken, don’t fix it!

I was recently at a networking event where I was asked to review several resumes. When I review a resume, I try to look for what the person is doing right, and point out their strengths. In addition, I look for ways they can enhance their resume through several critiques and modifications. However, not all people need to modify their resumes. In other words, if you are already getting responses from employers regarding your resume, DO NOT TOUCH IT. The only reason to revise and/or revamp your resume is if you are not getting the results you want, ie. your resume is not getting you interviews. Otherwise, if you are getting interviews in the field you are interested in, you are already ahead of the game and should leave it as is. Once your resume is getting you the interviews you want, you then need to focus on your interviewing skills. Getting in the door through your resume is only half the battle. The battle is not won, however, until you are the one who has the offer. Once you are the one who has the offer, it is YOURS! Do whatever you want with the offer: accept it, decline it, or negotiate it. The point is, you want to be the one who has the offer at the end of the day. For more tips on how to be effective at landing the offer and acing your interview, look for our next article on: “How to be effective at interviewing.”