Phillips: Avoid exaggerations, typos, gaps in resume

Phillips: Avoid exaggerations, typos, gaps in resume

June 26th, 2010 by Ellen Phillips in Businessellenphillips

OK, you've written the be-all-to-end-all resume, but stop before sending it to prospective employers. No matter how great a job we think we did, I'll just bet an error or two is hiding just waiting to surface when Mr. Boss Man's eagle eye skims the form. No offense, but failing to thoroughly proofread equals a recipe for disaster. For the most part, www.msn.careerbuilder.com agrees with me on the ways to check what appears to be a fail-safe resume before it becomes failed indeed. Let's talk further about proofing and other resume problems.

* Proofreading. Typos, spelling errors, grammar mistakes -- all can end up in any type of important correspondence if we rely only on a computer's spell and/or grammar check. For instance, say you mean to type "small," as in "Successfully led large and small group discussions." Instead, you type "smell" but because "smell" is a legitimate word, it won't show up as a spelling error.

* Explanations. The folks who hire look for clearly-explained qualifications and accomplishments. Not being specific enough often means that great job goes to someone else with more clarity. As an example, when writing the objective for last week's TSA client, I wouldn't drift off into neverneverland with "To advance in the field of security by utilizing my knowledge, skills and abilities" (knowledge, skills, and abilities to do what?); obviously, I'd complete this thought with something along the lines of "to further safeguard the public, the installation and the country."

* Exaggerations. If you fudge these qualifications or accomplishments, you're likely to come out with mud on your face. Don't think for a minute Ms. Prospective Boss Lady overlooks a bogus job title or deceptive deeds. Should you luck up for an infinitesimal glance, just imagine the humiliation you'll experience if she calls your bluff. Worse, if you're hired and later the resume is found to be untruthful, she might warn you not to let the door hit your backside on the way out.

* Wordiness. I used the term "concise" in last week's column to describe one facet of a great resume. It's always better to select the most important pieces of information; not only should an applicant forget the "fluff," but also you don't need to list each and every project you've worked on, for example, especially if you've had a long career. Again, focus on the details most relevant to this particular position as most employers prefer a quick read.

* Holes. Be sure to address any gaps in employment within your (also concise) cover letter. Don't keep your potential employer guessing why 10 years elapsed between jobs. Perhaps you took time out to raise a family; however, within that decade, did you volunteer in some capacity or another. When we put our thinking caps on, it's amazing just how many professional activities we come up with outside of "work."

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business. E-mail her at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.