I recently read a blog post on the topic of how the writer disliked articles that are simply lists—you know, the “Top Ten Tips for ____” kind of article that seems to permeate every other corner of the blogosphere. It was good for a chuckle, so I thought I would pull some inspiration from that post and create a list of my own. They say to “write what you know,” and I’m writing this article less than an hour before heading out to facilitate a workshop on résumé writing… so let’s make a list about bad résumé tips!
Six Common Résumé Tips to Avoid at All Costs
1. Use a template
Want to guarantee your résumé looks virtually identical to that of at least one other person applying to the same job you are? It’s easy: just pick a template from your favourite word processing program and have at it. Sure, you’ll look lazy and in no way creative, but hey, at least you won’t be alone.
2. Stick to one page, no matter what!
Let’s see, you have a university level education, some decent work experience, a few excellent volunteer positions, and that internship from last summer. Squeezing all that onto one page just doesn’t make sense if the employer’s not able to determine the relevance of anything you’ve put onto that page.
3. Always list your experience from most recent to least recent
Wait, how is this a bad résumé tip? Isn’t it confusing to change the order of your experience from the Holy Reverse-Chronological? Not if you do it right. Instead of using chronology as the primary factor for ordering items on your résumé, use relevance to determine where things go in order to highlight your key experiences. Make several headings for your experience, and put all of your most relevant experience into one heading near the top of the first page. Within each heading, use reverse-chronological order.
4. Include your snail mail address in your letterhead
There’s a debate going on over this one. But for most industries, it’s just not necessary to include your physical address anymore. Are they really going to contact you by snail mail? As long as you have a phone number and professional looking email address, you have the basics covered. The new “address” is the one you have built on the Internet. Have an online portfolio? List the web address in your letterhead. Your public LinkedIn profile is a great place to start building your personal online space.
5. Include an objective
Nothing says “I want this job” quite like saying… you want that job. Unfortunately, when it comes to résumés, stating such an “objective” is just stating the painfully obvious—and thus insulting, in a way, to the reader of your résumé. I’ve seen a lot of bad objective statements, most often something like “to obtain the position of _____ at a company which values my skills and experience” or worse yet, “to gain experience in the field of _____.” Get rid of the redundant objective statement and use that valuable space at the top of the first page for a summary section or some kind.
6. Put “References available upon request” at the bottom of your résumé
Think about this one for a minute. Essentially you’re giving the employer permission to ask you for references. Are they going to think they may not ask you for references if you don’t include that statement on your résumé? Are they going to think you don’t have any references without that statement? Are they going to sigh audibly, a small piece of their soul forever lost, when they read it? The answer to one of the above questions is yes.
There you have it. Have a comment? Disagree with anything above? Let your voice be heard in the comments!