Five Ways to Ruin a Resume

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Posted by The Editors on June 15, 2011
Five Ways to Ruin a Resume

Here's a line up of bad "resume chefs" and a discussion of their primary offensives. If your resume exhibits any of the following negative traits, it runs a high risk of being tossed in the "no" pile, no matter how strong your qualifications are.

The Buzzword Bozo

Buzzword bozos use words in the wrong context or words that aren't meaningful in an attempt to sound savvy. If you claim to have been "responsible for re-engineering the audit approval process," you risk appearing more naive than you are. After all, "re-engineering" is just another word for "changing," and "audit approval process" is redundant. Why not lose "approval" and claim to have "changed the audit process?"

The Experience Inflator

The biggest mistake insiders note is the tendency to overstate experience. Yeah, we know everyone exaggerates their experience to some extent, but insiders tell us that if a resume looks too good to be true, it probably is. Therefore, most of them look at a glowing resume with a heavy dose of skepticism. Yes, do sell yourself and showcase your talents, but do it without going overboard.

The Title-Titillator

Title titillators think a fancy title will make their experience sound better. Consider the very impressive-sounding title "Director of Strategic Operations."

What on earth does that mean? When in doubt, simplify so as to make your role and responsibilities clearer, rather than more obscure. Also, be very sure that the title you choose is the one that your former employer or reference will confirm that you had while at their organization.

The Liar

Frighteningly enough, many insiders we talked to said they had caught individuals lying about everything from what degrees they had earned to where they had earned them to where they had worked. One remembered a candidate from a top finance school who lied about being on the board of a prominent charity. It so happened that the insider's spouse was on that board, which made for a very interesting dinner table conversation that evening, and an awkward phone call to the candidate the next day.

Needless to say, he was not invited for an interview. Also keep in mind that you can be fired at any point during your employment with a company if they discover that you falsified your job search documents.

The Jack of All Trades

Resumes lacking focus are big losers. They include mentions of membership in seven different clubs without a leadership position in any of them; experience in five industries in the past four years; and in-depth knowledge of marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance, and information systems. Yeah, right. Avoid looking like a dilettante. Groom your resume so it highlights skills and experiences specifically related to a career in investment banking.

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