Uncovering Your Resume's Hidden Surprises

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Having reached the final interview with the managing director, the job seeker was optimistic that an offer would be soon in coming. She'd answered the MD's final question about hobbies she'd listed on her resume. They shook hands heartily. She left his office confident.

After the interview, the MD turned to his computer and searched Google for information on the hobbies. The top results included photos of a gathering where women were dressed in, let's say, less-than-corporate attire. Instead of a job offer, the candidate received a disappointed call from her recruiter. She'd never even considered what she did on weekends could be linked to risqué photos on the Web.

Sound far-fetched? Go search for "EBITDA." Along with the real definition - "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization" - you'll find reference to "Earnings Before I Trick Dumb Auditors." While most hiring managers probably won't look up that particular term, it's an example of how the results of an Internet search can be unpredictable.

Our point: Before you send out your resume, make sure you know where a search of even seemingly innocuous terms may lead.

No Jargon

"Beyond running spell check, grammar check and proof reading, applicants should be aware that terms like 'shared services' or 'supply chain' aren't always familiar to all resume screeners and interviewers, so define any terms that you use in your resume and avoid industry jargon as much as possible," says Rachelle Vento, managing director for Resources Global Professionals, which provides expertise in accounting and finance. In fact, avoiding jargon in resumes altogether might be a prudent move for job seekers, she says.

Wall Street is an increasingly competitive environment for job seekers, notes Chip Clothier, managing partner with HFC Executive Search, a Pennsylvania-based firm that places candidates in accounting and finance positions. While many financial jobs require risk taking, he points out there can be a fine line between intelligent risk taking and recklessness. When crafting their resumes, he says job seekers should be careful to represent themselves appropriately.

Also, Sarbanes-Oxley has made prospective employers less forgiving of mistakes made by job applicants, Clothier says. So having others review your resume for unfamiliar words, and proactively looking up terms on Internet search engines is good advice. Firms believe character matters, and you may be judged harshly for your mistakes.

To make sure your resume passes the search test:

Don't Include Personal Information

Listing personal information on your resume, other than your name and contact information, may cause reviewers to make assumptions or judgments. It's better to leave that discussion for the actual interview.

No BTW

Don't use terms that you would use when blogging or text messaging on your resume. In fact, don't use them in business communications at all.

Write for the Masses

Define any terms that are industry-specific, avoid jargon and spell out terms or the names of organizations instead of referencing them with acronyms.

Mimic Key Words

You'll be much better off repeating the language used in the job description than using unfamiliar terms. Not only will your resume make it through the electronic search process more often, you'll be using safe vocabulary.

"Employers are not only looking at character when assessing applicants, but they are judging them in part by their attention to detail," says Vento "I would encourage all job seekers to go through their resumes with a fine tooth comb. Many words have double meanings that won't be picked-up by spell-check, so you'll need to demonstrate your proof reading skills by finding those things on your own."

And, when in doubt, Google. If you cite your membership in a service organization, check out its Web site. If you say you love hang gliding, see what sites come back when you search on the phrase. You might assume you know everything there is to know about a subject, but be sure to find out what the hiring manager will see when they turn to the Web.

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