Follow this helpful guide to avoid the top seven most common mistakes people make in their resumes.
AVOID MENTIONING PRISON
It’s all well and good if, under the heading of “education,” you mention the GED you attained during lock-up. But be cautious when describing job abilities.
Good way to put it on your resume: “Experienced with laundry equipment, but also able to look up case law. Can sleep anywhere.”
Bad way to put it on your resume: “If you have a problem with someone, I can take care of this person by using nothing but a plastic spoon and some hair gel. Then you’re mine until we get out.”
EDIT LIST OF ABILITIES
Do not throw in just anything you can think of in order to make yourself look like more of a Renaissance man.
Bad: “Can speak fluent Spanish. Wrote my own wedding vows. Can fold my own tongue lengthwise and widthwise. Am able to abandon children without ever looking back.”
When describing the duties of previous jobs, try not to stray from the topic.
Bad: “As project manager for CPC Middleware, I set the budget and oversaw operations for projects that connected application software to basic operating systems. My wife makes the most remarkable chili. I’m going to be 34 next month, yet my parents are still taller than I am. Can I have a nickel?”
This is neither the time nor the place for your personal baggage. For example, which two items should be excluded from this job history?
1985 to 1994, engineer, Dempco Company.
1987 to 1993, participated in what I believed was a loving and monogamous marriage.
1993 to present, unable to feel anything, not even rage.
1994 to present, senior engineer, Lockheed.”
When listing job skills in a series of bullet points, do not get drunk in the middle of it. For instance:
* Experienced with Excel spreadsheets.
* Have completed nine hours of management training.
* Can beat up everyone I’ve met so far at your company.
* You know who was great? Adam West. The guy who played Batman on TV? He was great.
* I’m not a bad person. I’m just weak. And I have these terrible, terrible moods.
* Will you come home with me? How about your friend?
When listing former employers as references, refer to them only by their first and last name rather than by the nickname they didn’t know about. Viz:
Cousin It — extension #106.
Executive Vice President of Unmerited Arrogance — extension #130.
The Breather — extension #125.
EDIT YOUR JOB HISTORY
You don’t necessarily have to list jobs from longer ago than 10 years back. This is fortunate because too many different kinds of jobs makes employers think you may lack focus — and not everyone discovers their true calling right after college.
In this following resume sample, see if you can tell when the applicant should have stopped writing and left well enough alone:
2009 to present: Senior graphic designer at Concepts Unlimited, Newark.
2007 to 2009: Junior graphic designer, Special Moments Design, Edison.
2004 to 2006: Roadie for tic-tack-toe-playing chicken, Atlantic City and various locations.
2002: Accident victim for insurance money (freelance).
1997 to 2002: Member of Menudo.