Fact versus fiction: résumés and what employers don’t tell you

It’s hard to contain your dismay when you begin reviewing résumés of graduating college seniors. To me, most of the résumés are a train wreck caused by a lot of ill-advised, but good intentioned professors, counselors and, well, family and friends.

Over the past 30 years, the thousands of résumés I’ve seen either don’t properly tell the person’s employment, experience and education story, or even give them a fighting chance.

Here’s my list of résumé blunders that can be avoided:

1. Don’t think the résumé will get you a job. Mass mailing of the document surely spells Round File in this current economic mess. The truth be told, it’s making personal contact with someone at a potential employer who may actually care about your career, or finding an advocate who may call someone at a company for you.

2. Keep the résumé to one page if at all possible. False. The résumé needs to be representative of your education and experience. To keep a critical detail off of a résumé because of space concerns is dead wrong. The résumé should be as long as necessary to give someone your full and detailed story.

3. Leaving off critical details like, “classes taken” or “computer aptitude.”
Don’t “assume” we know what your college offered you in the way of classes. To just say that you have a degree in mass communication doesn’t do much. What classes did you take? List three or four important and relevant courses that would directly apply to the job you seek. For example at our advertising and PR firm, we would like to see classes in Adobe InDesign and copywriting courses.

4. Not providing current phone numbers and addresses to reach you. There have been several times we have decided to bring someone in for an interview only to find that their telephone number is disconnected, or they put an old address. Some people frown upon putting their parents’ address on the résumé. Quite frankly, it does not matter to me. What I want is a phone number and address to find you the day I’m looking for an employee.

5. Not providing references and e-mail addresses for them. Please put your references on the résumé. Make sure the people know they are listed as references, and by all means, give the right contact information for them. Please list an e-mail address. In the business world, e-mail has become an important contact device. Many times, people will respond to e-mail instead of taking, or returning phone calls.

While someone may think this listing is more toward minutia than meat, I would urge you to talk with people who are objective and neutral and outside your job search circle. Simply ask about their experiences in both job seeking and hiring. It will provide a treasure trove of good advice.

1 thought on “Fact versus fiction: résumés and what employers don’t tell you

  1. true story, I once quit a resturant job in high school on a busy friday night. just walked out without telling the boss. when I applied for my first “real” job I figured I needed to have at least one reference so I listed him. needless to say he didn’t give me very high marks. I got the job anyway, they must have been desperate.

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