There is no doubt that your resume is your own personal document and as such, should be expressed exactly how you personally think it best represents you and your career to date. In saying that there are some common errors that I think people should be aware of, and avoiding these things should improve your chances of advancing through an application process.
- Too long – As a rough guide 3 to 4 pages is ideal (maybe 5 at a stretch if you have a lot to include). Anything longer is cumbersome, boring and simply won’t be absorbed when being reviewed in a line-up. Your resume should be a punchy summary of your experience with the bulk of the detail in the most recent 5 years. Anything prior to that should be summarised in terms of exact dates and job titles with occasional bullet points to explain if necessary.
- Lack of “keywords / skills” list – Although I personally don’t subscribe to it at all – too many companies (and many recruiters) now rely on clumsy software products to sort and filter resumes based on technical keywords or areas of expertise etc. Leaving out a “keywords” or “skills” list can now unfortunately mean that you can get overlooked for some opportunities. Include a list of technical “buzzwords”, jargon, technical terms (call it what you like) from your profession.
- Paying someone to “format” your resume – As mentioned earlier, your resume should be your own personalised document and the way it is expressed can often be taken into account when being viewed or assessed. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to present yourself but there are definitely things you can do to enhance that process. Don’t go wasting money on people that pretend to be “resume gurus” but definitely follow suggestions and copy ideas of how successful people present themselves and their resumes.
- Gaps / Missing Information – Sounds obvious but definitely don’t leave anything off your resume (in terms of jobs you have done), stretch or alter dates in any way or embellish the truth. Like a lot of things in life – honesty is always the best policy – and also totally relied upon in this situation. Any time out, adversity or career breaks are easily explained – and are often when people’s best traits come out. You must remember that is other human beings that are assessing you for a potential opportunity – and if you are being prejudged on adverse circumstances then it’s probably not the opportunity you want anyway.
- Less than professional e-mail account – Wherever possible try to avoid personal email addresses that can encourage people to make assumptions. Things like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com be perceived as unprofessional and childish and are easily replaced with something more appropriate.
- Personal information – In conjunction with human rights legislation employers are prevented from discrimination based on anyone’s personal information so it should not be included. Things like: age, marital status, photo’s, religious orientation etc. Some people also recommend leaving out hobbies and interests but I personally think that’s OK and can provide a useful insight into someone’s personality.
Should you wish to discuss this or anything else specific to your Payroll career development, please don’t hesitate to email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org