There's no such thing as over-prepared when it comes to searching and interviewing for jobs or internships. Every tidbit of advice along the way can help you build a successful package and action plan for finding and getting the job you want.
Top 10 Typical Resume Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
- Too Long or Too Short - Size DOES matter! One page is preferred for a new college graduate. If your experience warrants it, (at least 5 years of full time employment experience) two pages are acceptable, but only if you utilize the full two pages. Do not submit a 1 ½ page document.
- Disorganized, Poor Formatting, Typos – How your resume looks is important. Illogical order, disorganization, and inconsistent format make a resume hard to read. Create a clean looking document, using consistent formatting for headings and bullet points. Keep your resume simple, bold and professional. Proofread it several times. One typo or misspelling on your resume and many hiring managers will automatically toss it.
- Including Unrelated and Irrelevant Personal Information. - Space is precious on your resume so don’t take up valuable space with information unrelated to the job you are seeking. Avoid words like “I,” “my,” and “me,” – those belong in your cover letter. Leave the details about your personal life, marital status, religion, and extra-curricular activities off.
- Poor Descriptions of Experience and Education - Give the reader an idea of what you have done throughout your career but don’t focus on the duties you were responsible for at your previous jobs. List accomplishments along with quantifiable facts to back up your claims. Make a bold, strong statement by using action words to describe your accomplishments. Words like “managed,” "coordinated," and "achieved," will get their attention. Describe the key skills that made you so successful in that position.
- Going Back Too Far – The “Good Old Days” of your work history may not be terribly relevant. Who really cares about a high school job if it was 20 years ago? You don’t want to be vulnerable for possible age discrimination. A general rule to follow: if you are at a senior level, list about the last 15 years worth of professional experience. Anything prior to that can be summarized.
- Unclear Career Objective or Generic Resume - You experience does not change but depending on the job you are applying for, your resume should. For a manager’s position, your resume should include details that are different than those that would be included for a sales position. Make sure you include skills that focus on the job you are interested in so that the reader can see why you are a good fit. Make sure your keys skills and accomplishments stand out.
- Repetition – Be sure you have variety in your resume. Don't pick a couple of action words and repeat them throughout the whole resume. Grab a thesaurus if you can’t figure out how to find new ways to say the same thing.
- No Cover Letter with a Resume - Don’t send your terrific resume out without a strong introduction. Like a pair of gloves -- resumes and cover letters should be inseparable. The cover letter is your chance to really sell yourself and the resume is the fact sheet that backs it up. Unless clearly indicated not to, send a cover letter.
- Wrong Person - Hundreds of unsolicited resumes arrive on the desks of employers every day. The quickest way to get it thrown in the trash is to address it to the "Hiring Manager," or "To Whom it May Concern." When possible, direct your cover letter and resume to an identified person in the organization who is responsible for hiring or screening applicants.
- Dishonesty – Everybody wants to show themselves in the best light possible but the information you put on your resume must be accurate and true. Don’t lie and don’t stretch the truth about your accomplishments or responsibilities. Aside from the fact that it’s poor form to be dishonest, if you get caught, it could be an immediate cause for dismissal.
- Research the organization.
- Review your qualifications for the job and be prepared to describe your experience, showing how it relates it the job.
- Be ready to answer broad questions, such as "Why should I hire you?" "Why do you want this job?" "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
- Practice an interview with a friend or relative.
- Be well groomed.
- Dress appropriately.
- Do not chew gum or smoke.
- Be early.
- Learn the name of your interviewer and greet him or her with a firm handshake.
- Use good manners with everyone you meet.
- Relax and answer each question concisely.
- Use proper English—avoid slang.
- Be cooperative and enthusiastic.
- Use body language to show interest—use eye contact and don’t slouch.
- Ask questions about the position and the organization, but avoid questions whose answers
can easily be found on the company Web site.
Also avoid asking questions about salary and benefits unless a job offer is made.
- Thank the interviewer when you leave and shake hands.
- Send a short thank you note following the interview.
What to bring to an interview
- Résumé. Although not all employers require a résumé, you should be able to furnish the interviewer information about your education, training, and previous employment.
- References. Employers typically require three references. Get permission before using anyone as a reference. Make sure that they will give you a good reference. Avoid using relatives as references.