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Many people agonize over writing a résumé, and often for good reason. Writing an effective, creative bio data that gets results can be tough. Most prospective employers decide whether or not they want to interview you after reading the first few lines. Add to that the vast sea of competitive candidates that you are going head to head with, and suddenly the entire process of crafting a winning résumé can seem daunting, if not impossible.
Luckily, there are some tried-and-true rules to follow that can help you transform your résumé from blah to “wow!” Use the 10 tips below to help parlay your résumé into a winner:
1 ) Don’t skip the small stuff: Make sure your résumé includes your name, mailing address, phone numbers, and email address — all possible ways you can be contacted. Should your résumé happen to get separated from your cover letter, a potential employer will have no way of getting in touch with you.
2 ) Use language that sizzles: Use active language and strong, energetic words. Avoid the use of personal pronouns such as “I” and “me.” Steer clear of buzzwords, acronyms, and industry-specific jargon. Avoid the use of phrases such as “responsibilities included” or “duties included” — employers want to hear about your accomplishments, not how well you carried out your assigned duties.
3 ) Get to the point: It’s a smart idea to quickly capture an employer’s attention with easily digestible information. Consider beginning your résumé with a specific, highly condensed summary of your professional background, skills, and attributes. A summary also helps to give your résumé focus.
4 ) Edit and proofread carefully: The importance of painstakingly proofing your résumé for typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors cannot be stressed enough. Enlist several other pairs of eyes to go over it as well, preferably belonging to friends who are professional writers or editors. Having to review so many résumés can make many employers look for reasons to eliminate applicants; that first typo usually does the trick. Even small mistakes can lead a potential employer to believe that a candidate might not make a very careful or conscientious employee.
5 ) Customize: If you have a broad range of experience, you may want to consider having more than one résumé, each targeted to a specific industry or job.
6 ) Be truthful and accurate: Make sure you have not included any misleading or false information on your résumé. Chances are your “inaccuracies” will eventually be discovered and you’ll lose all credibility with your prospective employer.
7 ) Name your motivation: It’s important to paint a clear picture of your goals and objectives, as well as the industry or position you are targeting. Don’t make an employer guess; he or she should be able to take a quick glance at your résumé and have a good sense of what you want to do.
8 ) Emphasize achievements: Employers are less interested in titles and duties and more interested in previous accomplishments. The fact that you implemented cost-cutting measures that reduced your department’s expenses by 15 percent is far more meaningful than simply stating you oversaw a budget. Quantify your achievements in terms of percentages, dollar amounts, or time frames to make your accomplishments more concrete.
9 ) Put education in the right place: If you are a recent graduate who does not yet have much work experience, make sure to put the emphasis on your education. In addition to listing the university you attended, include information on degrees earned, majors and minors, grade point average, date of program completion, and any scholarships or honors received. Once you’ve got several years of work experience under your belt, this education information can move to the end of the résumé.
10 ) Include references and portfolio: While many résumés promise references “upon request,” sometimes it’s a good idea to include a list of references up front. Make sure it’s a list of professional acquaintances that you trust to speak well of your skills and past accomplishments to prospective employers. You may also want to attach a portfolio of your professional-quality work to illustrate your abilities.
All that hard work sending out résumés has finally paid off and you’ve been called in for a face-to-face job interview. Congratulations! This is an important next step in your job search. It’s also your only chance to make a lasting first impression.
On the day of your interview, sweating palms and stomach butterflies are to be expected. But you can reduce your stress level by knowing some common mistakes that interviewees make when meeting with potential employers — and avoiding them.
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes people make on job interviews:
1 ) Not taking the interview seriously: Don’t make the mistake of thinking the interview is just a formality. Even if all the preliminaries have gone well, don’t be cavalier and start imagining how you’ll start spending your new salary. The biggest error you can make is to assume that, because you’ve gotten this far, the job is in the bag.
2 ) Dressing down: How you present yourself during your initial meeting with a potential employer is very important, and your physical appearance can speak volumes to someone who is meeting you for the first time. Even if you know that the firm allows employees to wear jeans, don’t sabotage yourself by showing up to the interview in casual clothing. Err on the side of conservative and show up in neat, professional clothing, preferably a business suit.
3 )Not showing why you’re the best choice: Be familiar with the job description of the position you’re interviewing for so you can illustrate how your experience, abilities, and strengths are in line with the company’s needs. Many potential employers want to know why they should hire you specifically. Make it clear to them.
4 ) Being too modest: Failing to talk yourself up during an interview is one of the most self-defeating mistakes you can make. This is not the time for humility, so sing your praises! Don’t be afraid to talk up everything you’ve accomplished, whether in school or in previous companies. This is your time to shine.
5 ) Talking too much: Be careful not to talk over the interviewer. This meeting should be a two-way conversation, and many interviewees cover up their nervousness by blathering on. Sit calmly and listen carefully, answering questions thoughtfully.
6 ) Focusing on the funds: Don’t start talking about money too soon into the interview. Focusing on your salary requirements and previous salary history right off the bat may cause you to reveal too much. While the topic of salary will certainly come up, follow the interviewer’s lead. He or she may be saving that topic for a later conversation.
7 ) Trash talking: Even if you hated your former boss or felt you were treated unfairly by your previous employer, a job interview is not the place to launch into a litany of complaints. Don’t go there. If you were laid off or fired from a previous position, be prepared with an explanation that puts a positive spin on the circumstances.
8 ) Failing to ask questions: Your résumé may be impressive on paper, but employers also appreciate a candidate who can ask several intelligent questions during an interview. Prepare at least 3 or 4 questions in advance to ask the interviewer. Interviews are an exchange of information, and not having questions to ask can reveal a lack of preparation.
9 ) Lack of enthusiasm: This is your first and sometimes only chance to showcase your personality. Don’t walk in announcing how you’re having a bad day. Be polite and upbeat. Show your enthusiasm for both the job and the opportunity to interview for it. And don’t forget to thank the person at the end of the interview!
10 ) Forgetting the follow-up: Make sure to send a handwritten thank-you note or polite email to the interviewer expressing gratitude for his or her time and consideration. And while you don’t want to start calling the company on a daily basis, a phone call checking in a week after the interview is perfectly acceptable.