What Not to Do: 7 Ways to Ruin Your Resume
by Hillary Chura
Dec 21, 2009

In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, the average recruiter will have plowed through six resumes. (We know; we timed one.) Want to increase the chances of your resume making it to the next round? Then don’t do any of these seven things, which recruiters say — more than anything — make them want to push the “shred” button.
(For more resume tips, check out our interactive critique of an actual resume.)

1. Apply for a job for which you are not remotely qualified
Many candidates believe the job hunt is a numbers game — drop enough resumes, and you’re bound to land something. But shotguns are for hunting pheasant, not finding jobs. The reality is that recruiters hate wasting time on resumes from unqualified candidates. Morgan Miller, an executive recruiter at StaffMark, recalls the security guard who applied to be a financial risk manager (maybe Lehman should have hired him), while Scott Ragusa at Winter, Wyman talks of the aerial photographer who sought out a position as a tax specialist.

“Sorting through unqualified resumes is frustrating, unproductive and puts an extra burden on staff,” says Katherine Swift, Senior Account Director at KCSA Strategic Communications in Natick, Mass. “It also makes it much more challenging to find the right candidate.” So the next time you’re thinking of blasting out resumes to all 60 of the job listings on Monster.com that have the word “finance” in them , save your time (and that of the recruiters) and only apply for ones for which you’re qualified.

2. Include a lofty mission statement
More than ever, today’s savage job market is about the company, not the candidate. As such, mission or objective statements — particularly ones with an applicant’s hopes, dreams, and health insurance aspirations — will dispatch otherwise fine resumes to the circular file. Employers don’t care about how they can solve your problems — certainly not before they’ve met you and possibly not even after they’ve hired you. Instead, write an “objectives” statement that explains specifically how your skills and experience will help the company you’re applying to, not the other way around. And be very clear about what kind of job you’re seeking.

3. Use one generic resume for every job listing
To stand out amongst the sea of resumes that recruiters receive, yours must speak to each and every specific position, even recycling some of the language from the job description itself. Make it obvious that you will start solving problems even before you’ve recorded your outgoing voicemail message. Your CV or query letter should include a just touch of industry lingo — sufficient to prove you know your stuff but not so much that you sound like a robot. And it should speak to individual company issues and industry challenges, with specifics on how you have personally improved customer loyalty, efficiency, and profitability at past jobs, says workplace and performance consultant Jay Forte. Plus, each morsel should be on point.
“Think hard about how to best leverage each piece of information to your job search advantage,” says Wendy Enelow, a career consultant and trainer in Virginia. “Nothing in your resume should be arbitrary, from what you include in your job descriptions and achievement statements, to whether your education or experience comes first [recent grads may want to put education first] to how you format your contact information.”

4. Make recruiters or hiring managers guess how exactly you can help their client
Sourcing experts want to know — immediately — what someone can offer, and they won’t spend time noodling someone’s credentials. “Animal, vegetable or mineral? Doctor, lawyer or Indian chief?That’s what I’m wondering every time I open a resume. If it takes me more than a split second to figure this out, I feel frustrated,” says Mary O’Gorman, a veteran recruiter based in Brooklyn.

5. Don’t explain how past experience translates to a new position
Though candidates should avoid jobs where they have no experience, they absolutely should pursue new areas and positions if they can position their experience effectively. A high school English teacher applying for new jobs, for example, can cite expertise in human resource management, people skills, record keeping, writing, and training, says Anthony Pensabene, a professional writer who works with executives.
“Titles are just semantics; candidates need to relate their ‘actual’ skills and experiences to the job they’re applying for in their resume,” Pensabene says. An applicant who cannot be bothered to identify the parallels between the two likely won’t be bothered with interviews, either.

6. Don’t include a cover letter with your resume
A cover letter should always accompany a resume — even if it’s going to your best friend. And that doesn’t mean a lazy “I’m _____ and I’m looking for a job in New York; please see my attached resume.” Says Lindsay Olson, a partner at Manhattan’s Paradigm Staffing: “I’d like to know why you are contacting me (a particular position, referral, etc.), a short background about yourself, and a career highlight or two. It’s important to attempt to set yourself apart from the competition.”

7. Be careless with details
Reckless job hunters rarely make for conscientious workers. As such, even promising resumes must abide by age-old dictums: typo-free, proper organization, and no embellishment. Susan Whitcomb, author of Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer, says that almost 80 percent of HR managers she surveyed said they would dismiss otherwise qualified candidates who break these rules. She tells the story of one would-be employer who, when looking for an assistant, decided not to hire anyone because every resume she received contained typos.

“With a 6-to-1 ratio of jobseekers-to-jobs in the current marketplace, you can’t afford to make mistakes with your resume,” Whitcomb says.

50 Common Interview Questions and Answers

REVIEW THESE TYPICAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND THINK ABOUT HOU YOU WOULD ANSWER THEM. READ THE QUESTIONS LISTED; YOU WILL ALSO FIND SOME STRATEGY SUGGESTIONS WITH IT.

1. Tell me about yourself?

The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a short statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Limit it to work related items unless instructed otherwise. Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest back and work upto the present.

2. Why did you leave your last job?

Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with Management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward looking reasons.

3. What experience you have in this field?

Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.

4. Do you consider yourself successful?

You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are on tract to achieve the others.

5. What do co-worked say about you?

Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific statement oor a paraphrase will work. Jill Clark, a co-worker at Smith Company, always said I was the hardest worker she had everknown. It is a powerful as Jill having said at the interview herself.

6. What do you know about this organization?

This question is one reason to do some research on the organization before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they are going. What are the current issues and who are the major players.

7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?

Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide variety of activities scan be mentioned as positive self improvement. Have some good ones handy to mention.

8. Are you applying for other jobs?

Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is a distraction.

9. why do you want to work for this organization?

This may take some thought and certainly should be based on the research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely important here and will easily sensed, Relate it to your long term career goals.

10. Do you know anyone who works for us?

Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the orgasation. This can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought of.

11. What is your expected salary?

A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if you answer first. So do not answer it. Instead say something like That is a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position. In most cases, the interviewer taken off guard will tell you. If not say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide range.

12. Are yu a team player?

You are of course a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter of fact tone. This is a keypoint.

13. How long would you expect to work for us if hired?

Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I would like it to be a long time. Or as long as we both feel I am doing a good job.

14. Have you ever had to fire anyone?

How did you feel ahout that? This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any away seem like you like to fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is the right thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus the individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the organization. Remember firing is not the same as lay off or reduction in force.

15. What is your philosophy toward work?

The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done. Yes that is the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a benefit to the organization.

16. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?

Yes if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type of work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.

17. Have you ever been asked to leave a position?

If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying negative things about the people or organization involved.

18. Explain how would be an asset to this organization?

You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position being discussed.

19. Why should we hire you?

Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison.

20. Tell me about a suggestion you have made?

Have a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. One related to the type of work applied for is a real plus.

21. What irritates you about co-workers?

This is a trap question. Think real hard but fail to comeup with anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get along with folks is great.

22. What is your greatest strength?

Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples: Your ability to prioritize, your problem-solving skills, your ability to work under pressure, your ability to focus on projects, your professional expertise, your leadership skills, your positive attitude.

23. Tell me about your dream job?

Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this position if hired. The best is to stay genetic and say something like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and cannot wait to get to work.

24. Why do you think you would do well at this job?

Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.

25. What are you looking for in a job?

See answer No. 23.

26. What kind of person would you refuse to work with?

Do not be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization, violence or law breaking to get you to object. Minor objection will label you as whiner.

27. What is more important to you: the money or the work?

Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer.

28. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?

There are numerous good possibilities: Loyalty, Energy, Positive Attitude, Leadership, Team Player, Expertise, Initiative, Patience, Hardwork, Creativity, Problem Solver.

29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor?

Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.

30. What has disappointed you about a job?

Do not get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include: Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction company did not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.

31. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure?

You may say that you thrive under certain type of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position applied for.

32. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?

Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want another job more than this one.

33. What motivates you to do your best on the job?

This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are: Challenge, Achievement, Recognition.

34. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Week ends?

This is upto you. Be totally honest.

35. How would you know you were successful on this job?

Several ways are good measures. You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a success. Your boss tells you that you are successful.

36. Would you be willing to relocate if required?

You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come uip. Do not say yes just to get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief.

37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of your own?

This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.

38. Describe your management style?

Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels like progressive, salesman or consensus can have several meanings or descriptions depending on which management expect you listen to. The situational style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the situation, instead of one size fits all.

39. What have you learned from mistakes on the job?

Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make it small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An example would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and thus throwing coordination off.

40. Do you have any blindspots?

Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do their own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.

41. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?

Be careful to mention traits that you are needed and that you have.

42. Do you think you are overqualified for this position?

Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well qualified for the position.

43. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?

First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about, bring that up; then point out (if true) that you are a hard working quick learner.

44. What qualities do you look for in a boss?

Be generic and positive, safe qualities are knowledgeable, sense of humour, fair loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards. All bosses think they have these traits.

45. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute?

Between otheres. Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique and not the dispute you settled.

46. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?

Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.

47. Describe your work ethic?

Emphasize benefits to the Organisation. Things like determination to get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.

48. What has been your biggest professional disappointment?

Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show acceptance and no negative feelings.

49. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job?

Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for organization.

50. Do you have any questions for me?

Always have some questions prepared. Questions prepared where you will be an asset to the organisatation are good. How soon will be able to be productive? And what type of projects will I be able to assist on?

And finally best of luck hope you will be successful in the interview you are going to face in the coming days.

Never take someone for granted, hold every person close to your heart because you might wake up one day and realize that you have lost a diamond while you were too busy collecting stones. Remember this always in life.

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