Now that my new medical company, Panacea Research, is off the ground, we’re hiring lots of people. So I’m reading lots of resumes. And most people make the same few basic mistakes, which drives me up the wall. So, here’s what not to do:
1. Don’t use tiny font. Regardless of how long a resume is, I usually spend about thirty seconds on it. Packing in more stuff doesn’t make me learn more about you, it just creates eyestrain.
2. Don’t avoid numbers. Your project “saved the company money”. How much? $1? $1,000? $1,000,000? If you don’t say which, it’ll be written off as empty filler.
3. Don’t brag about meaningless “skills”. Using a word processor is not a “skill”. Browsing the Web is not a “skill”. Writing email is not a “skill”. (Yes, people really say these things.) If an average eight-year-old can do something, don’t list it.
4. Don’t talk about “objectives” or “career focus”. Why should the employer care?
5. Don’t call yourself an “experienced professional” in field X when you’re right out of college, and haven’t worked in field X. It just looks silly.
6. Don’t send resumes as Word docs. They look different on different computers. PDF, please.
7. Don’t list things irrelevant to the job. If you’re applying to a chemical engineering company, no one needs to know you waited tables seven years ago.
8. Don’t write in a foreign language. There are exceptions (overseas offices, translation jobs, etc.), but they’re unusual.
9. Don’t apply for a highly specialized position without naming relevant skills. If you want to be a physicist, talking about your illustrious career in accounting won’t help.
(Disclaimer: This is based on how I read resumes, and that varies from person to person. Your mileage may vary, batteries not included.)