Career Planning – Some Do’s And Some Don’ts

A new résumé can jump-start your career. Your network contacts may ask for a résumé and some industries absolutely, positively demand a résumé as the price of admission. When you begin thinking of your résumé as a power source, the results can be astonishing.

  • Your résumé is a sales tool. It is not a place for therapeutic self-disclosure or true confessions. Be honest but present your accomplishments in the most positive way.
  • Leave tricky questions ("Why did you have six jobs in ten years?" "Why are you applying for an entry position after you've been running the show?") for the interview. Practice interview responses with a support group, friend or career coach.
  • If chronology works against you, opt for a sales pitch letter or use your network to get past the screeners. If you can't avoid a résumé, some experts will advise a functional résumé. However, once you show up for an interview, expect to be asked for a chronological review.
  • Focus on accomplishments. "Supervised ten people on a project that finished three weeks before deadline and saved megabucks." If you're over fifteen, you do not have "duties." You have "responsibilities" and "accomplishments." Anyway, nobody cares about what you were supposed to do. They want to know what you contributed.
  • Exploring multiple jobs? Tailor your résumé to each position and each field. Show that you understand your target firm's problems -- and are uniquely equipped to solve them.
  • Do not let anyone write your résumé for you. Accept suggestions and feedback but the final product should be in your own words.
  • Use your network to review the final product. Ask at least six people in your field for candid feedback. The final test: How do you feel when you read the résumé? When you feel proud of your résumé, and you're eager to share it with everyone you meet, you're ready to move.

Common résumé mistakes

A résumé is a powerful document that showcases your persona, your talent, your capabilities and your achievements. It is a sacrosanct document that should be treated with respect. Quintessentially it is YOU in all respects. Reading your résumé should give the reader the impression that he has known you all along and that you are in front of him. So please give utmost care and seriousness in preparing your résumé. Statistically it is believed that an employer scans a résumé for between 2.5 to 20 seconds! He glances at it with utmost speed and in that short time he must know what you are good at. There should be some eye catching information that rivets him to read further at much slower a pace.

There are a number of pitfalls that you need to avoid. We will enumerate them as follows:

  • Your résumé lacks focus. Just focussing on “duties and responsibilities” of your present job is not sufficient. It should include your strong points, achievements and accomplishments.
  • Neglecting to include quantitative information. Be specific. Like saying “I increased sales profit by 65% since I joined the company”
  • Avoid meaningless acronyms except for standard ones like VP, CEO etc. Avoid irrelevant information.
  • Never, never, never use superlatives. “I was the best sales person they ever employed” does not cut ice. Instead say: “Sales person of the year”
  • No personal pronouns like “I” “My” “me” etc.
  • Repetitiveness. This is a very common mistake. Read through your résumé again and again and avoid this. Also the same word may be used a number of times. Look for an synonym or do away with that word altogether in the coming sentences.
  • Do not use high sounding words to show off your command over language. For example mention “secretary” instead of “amanuensis”. No flowery language.
  • Your résumé should NOT run into pages. It should contain some key words that catch the eye of the reader. Ideally one or two pages should suffice.
  • Typos, grammar and fonts are most important. Give special attention to these. No more than two fonts should be used ideally.
  • Do not list personal interests, except by doing so you attract the attention of the employer.

Finally remember: Stick to the truth. Never lie about anything. Honesty must be your middle name!

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