First impressions count.
Typically, when a hiring manager (or more likely a human resources administrator) sees your resume and cover letter, they’ll spend less than a minute.
In those meaningful seconds, they’ll decide whether it goes onto the “Possible Candidate” or the “No Way” pile (our polite way of saying trash).
Before you submit your resume for that dream job, here are a few other things you should avoid.
- Fancy formatting
Most large organizations now scan resumes into application tracking systems, so while a fancy graphic or header may look terrific on your printed resume, your scanned version may look like a nightmare. And who knows what information may be lost. Your contact information perhaps?
Your resume should look professional, with clean, consistent formatting, and in a modern easy-to-read sans-serif font, like Arial or Calibri. Do not use fancy colored paper or weird script-like fonts. And make sure that you have no typos or bad grammar. You’d be surprised how many IT professionals don’t seem to know that Microsoft Word has a spelling and grammar checker. Seriously.
So avoid fancy formatting, tables, images, your photograph, and the like. Watch this primer on getting your resume past the HR screening process.
- Personal/Private Information
With all of the legal requirements related to hiring nowadays, the only personal information you should include on your resume is your name, your personal telephone number and email address, and perhaps your home address. Anything else — your age, marital status, religion, etc. — should be excluded. It is illegal in the United States for a potential employer to ask you for that information, so why include it?
One more thing: Don’t include your social security number or similar sensitive information. With identity theft rampant these days, you can never be sure who will see your resume.
- Career Objective
Ditch the career objective. Hiring managers are looking to fill specific, immediate job openings. They want to see if you have the experience and expertise needed for that position. So, make sure you convey those two points throughout your resume. They probably don’t care about your goal or desire to be the technology leader of the free world.
If they are interested in your long-term aspirations, they’ll ask during your interview — if you get to that stage.
You’re fresh out of school and applying for your first real job. Okay, include your grade point average, but only if it’s impressive. We’re thinking 3.8 or higher. Once you’re in the real world for a while, your experience and your work achievements are far more important than your GPA.
- Your Age or Information that Dates You
It’s illegal to hire or not hire based on age. Hiring decisions are based on whether a candidate has the experience, education, and skills to do the job. While you want to demonstrate your experience, you do not want to be eliminated because of age.
So, you shouldn’t include your age on your resume, or anything else that would enable someone to determine your age.
For example, it may be important that you received a degree summa cum laude, but it’s irrelevant to the hiring process when you received it.
Typically, you should not list any professional experience older than 15 years, especially if it is technology related. Windows for Workgroups experience is not going to float many boats nowadays. Even if you have worked for 30 years or more, don’t share that. It’s still truthful and accurate to say “…more than 15 years of technology experience.”
Unless there’s a valid reason to list older jobs in detail, just cover them with a “Prior experience includes…” paragraph with the positions and no dates.
- Irrelevant Jobs or Skills
Yes, you may have worked as a camp counselor, or at a fast food restaurant, but that’s almost certainly irrelevant to a hiring manager looking to fill an IT job opening. So, lose those listings, unless they are relevant to the job you’re pursuing.
Likewise, don’t list skills that you obviously should know. For example, if you apply for network administrator position, you don’t need to list IP addressing as a skill. That’s a core skill that anyone working in networking must know. Debating whether to include a skill or not?
For instance, Microsoft Office. Here’s a post entirely dedicated to the few, rare reasons you might put Office proficiency on your IT resume.
- Current Job Contact Information
While it’s okay to list your current employer and position, do not list your work phone number, or email address, or the name of your boss. You run the risk of a potential employer or recruiter contacting you at work.
Worst case, you could lose your job if your boss finds out that you’re looking for a new one. Don’t be that naive.
- Salary Information
Don’t list your current salary or your salary expectations on your resume.
Discussions about salary will come later, once you are in the interview process. If the prospective employer requires that you provide a salary history, you can address that in a cover letter.
Need some cover letter tips, too? We’ve got you covered.
References are a high-value resource for you. They are people who have agreed to invest their time in speaking about your capabilities and achievements.
Don’t burn your references. And don’t burn them out. You only want them to be contacted in cases where you are a legitimate candidate.
Notify them ahead of time that a potential employer will be calling them and for what position, so that they can present your case in the best light.
- Personal Social Media Accounts
Last but certainly not least, do not include your social media accounts on your resume.
Employers know that social media is a fixture in the personal lives of many candidates — a social media sweep is part of many hiring processes. If you are out there, they’ll find you.
So be very careful about what you post on your social media accounts. Your humorous tweet or photo posted to your friends may just knock you out of contention for your dream job.
Next: Job Hunting
When you submit your application for your next job, it’s important that you make the best impression possible.
Your resume is your chance to sell yourself as the ideal candidate. It should deliver a compelling story about you, the skills you have, and your work achievements.
Don’t undermine your story with irrelevant or unprofessional information.
Want to add more skills or IT certs to your resume? Go train now.
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