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Why Your Resume Gets Canned

published  First Published: 01/02/2010
Article written by: Nigel Brookson
Mind the gaps
 
If you leave gaps in your CV, potential employers will probably suspect the worst. If you took six months out for a temporary assignment or travel, it’s best to say so.
 
“Sometimes people who were made redundant and who took several months to find their next role think it’s better to leave a gap, rather than explain this unemployed period, but this is a mistake. Most employers agree it’s better to have one redundancy on your CV than two short-term jobs which you left of your own accord”.
 
Months do matter
 
Stating the years, rather than the months, you started or finished a role is not the answer to covering gaps either. For example, writing “2008 – 2009” when you were actually employed between November 2008 and February 2009. It’s best to be honest and explain breaks. This can be as simple as “March 2009 – June 2009: travelled overseas”.
 
Spalling mistakes
 
A recent survey of 150 senior US executives by recruitment firm Robert Half found that 76 per cent of them said just one or two typos in a resume would cost an applicant a job.
 
“This marks the importance of making sure your resume is 100 per cent perfect. Employers view resumes as a reflection of the applicant. If you make errors on your application, employers assume you’ll make mistakes on the job,” says Andrew Brushfield, director of Robert Half in Australia.
 
He urges candidates to properly proofread their CV, and to make sure someone else reviews it too. “It’s easy to overlook typos or formatting mistakes when reading a resume on a computer, so print it out for review.”
 
Clean up your act
 
Some hiring managers will often just have a quick scan through your CV, so it’s important to present information clearly and in an easy-to-read format.
 
“Avoid graphics, coloured text and unconventional fonts, which may not be installed on the recipient’s computer. Use bullet points to list your responsibilities and accomplishments, with enough white space to distinguish different roles in your career history,” says Jason Hemens, a manager at Michael Page.
 
Back to the future
 
There are plenty of candidates who put their earliest work experience at the top of their CVs. Bad idea. “The recruiter reviews large quantities of CVs every day and will often focus on just the first few paragraphs or bullet points before deciding whether to read further or call the candidate. If that information does not reflect your current work experience, you are likely to be rejected for the role,” comments one headhunter, who asked not to be named.
 
Obsolete objectives
 
Listing a career objective on your CV can be useful when applying for graduate-level jobs, but in other cases, objectives are usually poorly written, vague, self-limiting and don’t help to “sell” the candidate, says McNeill from Hays Recruitment.
 
“Another mistake is making it self-serving, focusing on what you want ('to obtain a meaningful position') rather than what you can do for an employer. If you do include an objective, make sure you rewrite it to suit each job you apply for, so that it details what qualifies you for the role and what contribution you can make in the role,” she adds.
 
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