Does Your Resume Say 'Delete Me'?

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Recruiters read resumes faster than Speed Racer drives, and the recycle bin is their best friend. A recent Moneywatch post by Hillary Chura describes seven ways many applicants unwittingly signal a recruiter, "Delete Me."

1. Applying for a job for which you are not remotely qualified.

To banish the pervasive myth that job-hunting is a "numbers game" where you should spew out resumes by the hundreds, Chura offers this neat image: "Shotguns are for hunting pheasant, not finding jobs." Recruiters, she notes, hate wasting time on resumes from unqualified candidates. Instead of sending a resume to every posting that includes the word, "finance," chose a handful whose requirements mesh with your skill set and job history.

2. Beginning with an "Objective" statement that is vague or aspirational.

When pitching yourself to an employer, always keep their needs front and center - not your needs. So instead of touting your own hopes and dreams at the top of your resume, craft your "objectives" statement around detailing how your skills and experience will help the company you're applying to. And be very clear about what kind of job you're seeking.

3. Using the same resume for every job.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, Chura advises: "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." For best results, sprinkle industry lingo, company issues and industry challenges throughout your cover letter and resume.

4. Failing to define yourself from the get-go.

Picture a recruiter reading your resume as he chants these words: "What's in it for my client?" If your cover letter, objective, and resume don't answer that question, toss them and start over.

5. Failing to explain how past experience translates to a new position.

Your chance of getting an interview will be much greater if your resume describes exactly how what you've done before would make you great at the job the recruiter is looking to fill today. Simply listing past job titles or duties isn't enough - especially when seeking a role that differs even slightly from your previous ones. "Titles are just semantics; candidates need to relate their 'actual' skills and experiences to the job they're applying for in their resume," says resume coach Anthony Pensabene.

6. Omitting a cover letter.

Chura quotes a recruiter saying a cover letter that provides a reason for the contact and brief-self-description is "important to attempt to set yourself apart from the competition." We'd characterize it differently: rather than set you "apart from the competition," a cover letter is a basic requirement to remain in competition, since some employers won't look at submissions that arrive sans cover letter.

7. Errors in either stylistic details (such as typos) or facts (embellishing qualifications).

Resume coach and author Susan Whitcomb told Chura almost 80 percent of HR managers she surveyed said they'd dismiss otherwise qualified candidates for this reason.

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