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Your Resume: Friend or Foe
by JoAnn Nix

If you are frustrated with the results your resume is producing, it may be time to take a closer look at it, the strategies you’ve used, content included, format, and the overall messages you are conveying to your audience. The resume may contain many faux pas that could negatively impact your quest for interviews.

I’ve reviewed over 20,000 resumes in the last 11 years as a Certified Professional Resume Writer. A quick review of a job seeker’s resume tells me instantly the reasons the resume is not working. Let’s examine five major mistakes; hopefully you will glean great tips to turn your resume into a real winner that has the “wow” factor needed to make Mr. Employer say, “This is one of the best resumes I’ve ever seen. This is the first person I’m going to call!”

1. Resume Looks Like It Was Written in 1970s.

This is a major crime committed by most people who write their own resume or have their friends or family members write their resume. A few examples that fall into this category include, using pronouns “I, me and my”, incorporating an objective, writing the word “RESUME” at the top of the document, or wasting an entire page to announce this is a resume along with your name and address. Personal information such as “married, 4 children, weigh 175, play golf” are resume sins. Does it begin with an “objective”? Nothing shouts “old fashioned, 1970s style” quicker than these items.

2. Using a Microsoft template.

These templates don’t do any justice to the job seeker who is striving to gain interviews. If you are using this template, consider this … how will you showcase your “uniqueness”, how will your resume leap out of the stack of 500 sitting on the hiring manager’s desk if most resumes are boring templates that all look the same? These templates don’t help job seekers write a sophisticated and impressive resume.

3. Failing to Use Strategies And Selling Your Value and Successes.

Do-it-yourself writers usually crank out chronological resumes that list “duties and responsibilities”. This is not a strategy and is very boring! They also fail to integrate an impressive summary that underscores their credentials.

Create strategies to ensure your messages are coming through crystal clear. What is it you are trying to accomplish? You are a product on a “shelf”, so you must sell the value you bring to the organization. Share your success stories with your audience in quantifiable terms. If you boosted sales from $100,000 to $1 million per year, say so. If you led a turnaround, discuss. If you achieved cost savings, provide evidence. If you don’t showcase your successes, everyone will assume you are not an achiever. Hence, no interviews.

4. Shortchanging Yourself.

If you’re still hanging on to a 1-page resume, it’s time for your resume to move into the “2004” era. One page resumes simply do not work – especially if you have over five years of experience. Many executives still cling to the 1970s style and believe that “short resumes work”. The opposite is true. In today’s world, companies demand information, and you will position yourself as the perfect candidate if you write a 2-3, even 4, page resume.

5. Failing to Pay Attention to Details.

As you’ve heard, typos can get your resume tossed out the door faster than you can say, “I want an interview”, and so can one long paragraph that resembles the Declaration of Independence. Easy-to-read, engaging and “digestible” paragraphs work best. Judicious use of bullets also work. Check your dates – you would not want to state you have worked for your current employer since 1890!! It’s in the details!

Lisa Chapman, of, is a professional resume writer in Michigan. Lisa states, ” The 70's, 80's, and 90's are over. We are in 2004. Résumés have come a long way - even since 1995. Employers don't want to know your personal interests, how many children you have, your spouse’s name, your height, etc. In fact, this information really places hiring managers in an awkward situation based on nondiscrimination laws. Hiring professionals are legally bound to be nondiscriminatory but a candidate who has used this information on his résumé has already given the hiring manager a "face" of some sorts. This is not good for the candidate nor the hiring professional.”

If your job search is not going as well as expected, perhaps it’s time to take an objective look at your resume and consider working with a professional resume writer. There are literally hundreds or thousands of job seekers vying for the same position, and only 5 to 10 candidates will usually be considered “top contenders”. It’s critical job seekers have a powerful and impressive professional resume that sells their value, credentials, accomplishments, and overall qualifications. A resume that meets the above guidelines should significantly improve your invitations to interviews!

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JoAnn Nix is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach with nearly 12 years of experience. She has written over 8,000 professional resumes in her career. To learn more, visit her website at, or contact her at or 1-800-265-6901.

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