The purpose of your resume is to show your skills in the best possible light, but how do you know when you’ve gone too far? When you are trying to market your skills to potential employers, it can be tempting to use little tricks to tilt the scale in your favour. The problem is that in many cases, your resume will be screened by a trained professional who can easily detect when an applicant is not being upfront. If you are guilty of any of the tricks below, your strategy may be backfiring on you:
1. Being vague about dates to hide employment gaps. It is not a good idea to try to hide gaps in your resume by keeping your employment dates vague. If you have 2009-2010 listed for a particular position, most interviewers will immediately ask for the months. If you do have gaps in your employment, you need to address them directly. When you try to hide them, it only makes the employer more suspicious.
2. Sending the exact same resume to 50 different employers. Employers can tell if you’re sending out the same resume to everyone, and when you do that, it gives the impression that you don’t care about the job. Take time with your resume and demonstrate that you are an excellent fit for the job, and that you are genuinely interested in working for the organization.
3. Embellishing your experiences. It’s tempting to make your responsibilities and accomplishments sound more impressive than they are, but it is a very bad idea. Employers working in the industry know what each job entails (they may have actually done your job) and they will be able to tell when you are exaggerating. Also remember that it’s a small world, and the interviewer may even know someone who works in your organization. Even if the interviewer doesn’t pick up on your exaggerations when screening your resume, there is a good chance that it will become apparent in the interview.
4. Including lots of fluff. General phrases or terms that sound good but don’t mean much are considered to be fluff. Some examples of fluff are “proven problem solving skills”, “strong interpersonal skills”, and “punctual and hardworking”. While these are all valuable soft skills, they become fluff on your resume when you don’t include any specific information to back them up. For example, you could say, “Punctual and reliable (received the perfect attendance award for the past two years).”
5. Fancy layouts without strong content. While it is important to make your resume look good, you don’t want to pay more attention to your layout than your content. An attractive resume may get the employer’s attention, but it won’t keep it unless your resume is well written, customized to the particular position, and error free.
Employers are always a little nervous about bringing a new employee into the organization because hiring the wrong person can cause them a lot of problems. If you are upfront and honest during the application process, the employer will be more likely to trust you. However, if it seems like you are playing games, the employer won’t hesitate to remove you from consideration.
(Written by: Karen Bivand)