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Five mistakes that send your resume to the recycling bin

February 25, 2014

Your resume can make or break your chance to land an interview and ultimately a job. While IT job opportunities abound right now, that doesn't mean employers will be any less selective. They're looking for the candidate with the right skill set, proven experience and a personality that fits their company culture. Your resume needs to prove that you are that candidate.

Recruiters and executives are busy people. They have to make fast judgments based on information they glean from cover letters and resumes. Because technical jobs often require very specific skills and expertise, you must make sure your qualifications are detailed accurately and clearly in your application. You might have the right talents and background for a job, but if your resume doesn't make them clear to the reviewer, it's not going to do you much good.

Here are a few mistakes that can fast-track your resume for the reject pile:

  • Vague objectives. The objectives section is quickly becoming an outdated element for resumes, career experts say. You should avoid the objectives statement altogether if you don't have something really valuable to say. Instead, you could include a short description of the value and specific traits you'll bring to the position. If you do add an objective, make sure it directly addresses the role you're seeking, rather than including vague statements about your hopes and dreams. Always strive to demonstrate you understand how technology impacts the company's business, Computerworld advised.
  • Wrong language. To convince an employer that you have the required technical know-how and attention to detail, you have to use jargon correctly, cautioned Computerworld. Make sure you fully comprehend the role you're applying for and use industry terms appropriately so your reviewer doesn't doubt your experience. The source noted that terms and phrases can be defined one way in textbooks but used differently in the field, so be especially careful if you're applying for your first job. You should also use acronyms sparingly, despite their popularity in the tech industry, the article suggested. It's fine to include a few, but cushion them with some context so they add meaning to your story. Similarly, IT Business Edge warned against using too many buzzwords. You should try to incorporate keywords from the job description, but terms like visionary, results-oriented and passion tend lose their meaning when candidates insert them indiscriminately.
  • Outdated skills or mediocrity. A skills section is crucial for IT careers, but you shouldn't necessarily include all of your abilities and certifications. Computerworld explained that outdated skills, such as certifications for obsolete programs, can actually detract from your resume. Employers are looking for skills that are directly relevant to their needs and IT experts must  be up-to-date on the latest technology. The source added that older accomplishments can be valuable in a resume, but you should discuss them in a different section. Similarly, you should choose the details that showcase your greatest accomplishments so your entire resume is aimed to impress your reviewer.
  • Poor formatting. Looks do matter—you want a crisp, clean presentation that makes it easy for employers to notice your achievements. Avoid large blocks of text so employers can see the most important information when they first glance at the document. If you have multiple pages, make sure the most relevant and impressive information is on the front page. Although you should give your document a polished look, Glassdoor advised that pre-made Word templates aren't always the best way to go. Many applicants use these templates, so crafting your own design instead can help you stand out from the crowd.
  • One-size-fits-all. To prove that you're the right person for the job, you have to tailor your resume for the role. Career experts emphasize that there's no such thing as "your resume." You need to create a separate version for each position you apply to. Resumes should include the specific background and skills that are most relevant to the job and describe how your experience will add value to the company. When customizing your document for each application, be sure to change the name of the company and role if you include them. Failure to catch mistakes like these and other typos or grammatical errors can indicate that you're not attentive to detail or don't care enough about the job.
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