If you want to score a job interview, your resume needs to make you look capable, skillful and excited to work. But job seekers frequently include information that gives the opposite impression.
Make sure your resume is strong as it can be by avoiding these things that can make you look like an unreliable employee.
1. Weak word choices
Using the phrase "responsible for" can make you sound as if you only do what you're told, says Joseph Terach, founder and CEO of Resume Deli. "When you're 'responsible' for something, it means you were assigned or supposed to do it. It doesn't mean you actually did it. It's a weak phrase that should be avoided."
2. Deflecting blame
Even if it's true, don't imply that your failures, such as missed sales figures, were a result of your company being acquired or management changes, Terach says. "You may have time to explain that when you're interviewing, but on your resume, assuming your reader doesn't know who you are, you risk coming off looking like a complainer, or someone who passes the buck."
3. Short stints
"If your resume shows that you've bounced from job to job within a short period of time, hiring managers will suspect you'll treat their company the same way," says Mark Slack of Resume Genius. He recommends listing years only on your work experience and leaving off jobs that are less relevant to the one you're applying for. "Besides making your work experience appear to be more stable, it's also just good practice to keep your resume lean and targeted."
4. Gaps between gigs
Employment gaps can raise a red flag, Slack says. "Even if you have those gaps for legitimate reasons, the hiring manager might think that you didn't work because you were lazy, unmotivated, unskilled or worse." It can be helpful to include a "work experience" section on your resume that includes ways you built your skills in your time off, such as through volunteer work or study.
5. A curious objective
If your job objective seems to fit your current employer, that will raise questions, says career coach Patty DeDominic. "If you currently work at a prestigious company, please don't state that your objective is to find work at a company that offers advancement and career opportunities. We wonder, have you been asked to leave? What's wrong with your current company?"
You may have had conflicts at past jobs, but your resume is no place to talk about them. "We usually eliminate resumes as 'unreliable' when the applicant mentions problems with previous jobs," says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation. "It is shocking, but some people list issues with previous jobs, or 'reasons for departure/termination.' When people do that, it appears as though they are covering for something that eventually would come up through background checks."
If you're applying for a job that's pays less than you make now or may look "beneath" you because of your experience, don't explain yourself on your resume, Sweeney says. "It is better to simply apply and let the question come up naturally, if at all. Suggesting the position is beneath them is not a good first sign.
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