Common Resume Blunders
by Kim Isaacs, MA, CPRW, NCRW
- Too Focused on Job Duties Rather Than Accomplishments
Demonstrate how you made a difference at each district or position by providing specific examples. When developing your achievements, ask yourself:
- Specifically, what did you accomplish?
- Were there any special circumstances or challenges that made those achievements even more meaningful.
- How did the district benefit from your performance? (If possible use numbers such as dollars gained, time saved, additional options available, etc.
- Did you receive any awards, special recognition or promotions as a result?
- Flowery or General Objective Statement
Many candidates lose their readers in the beginning by giving an Career Objective that is too obtuse, e.g. “A challenging position enabling me to contribute to district goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement”. This is too general and wastes valuable space. You may want to consider leaving out the “Objective” statement altogether. If you do include a Career Objective statement, consider saying something about your expertise or the opportunity for new challenges.
- Too Short or Too Long
Many people try to squeeze their experiences onto one page, because they’ve heard resumes shouldn’t be longer. By doing this, job seekers may delete impressive achievements. There are also candidates who ramble on about irrelevant or redundant experiences. There is no rule about appropriate resume length. When writing your resume, ask yourself, “Will this statement help me land an interview?” Every word should sell you, so only include information that elicits a “yes.”
- Using Personal Pronouns and Articles (Don’t!!)
A resume is a form of business communication, so it should be concise and written in a telegraphic style. There should be no mention of “I” or “me,” and only minimal use of articles.For example: I developed a new dropout prevention program that raised graduation rates by nine percent and increased state aid by $49,000 per yearshould be changed to:Developed a new dropout prevention program that raised graduation rates by nine percent and increased state aid by $49,000 per year.
- Listing Irrelevant Information
Many people include their interests, but they should only include those relating to the job. For example, if a candidate is applying for a position as a ski instructor, it is appropriate to list cross-country skiing as a hobby, but not surfing.Personal information, such as date of birth and height and weight are not usually on the resume. Marital status and the presence of children are not required and cannot be required or asked by the district. But if you are married, you may want to include it because most people are more comfortable if the candidate is in a stable family situation.
- Using a Functional Format Rather Than a Chronological Format
Some candidates group their service and the years in each, e.g. teacher 14 years, principal 4 years, etc. But superintendents, boards, or search consultants who will be reviewing your resume want to see the chronological sequence of the jobs you have held and the years of service in each position. Not to include this information raises concern that you are hiding something. If there is a break in your career path, put it in and explain it in your letter of application. In short, use the chronological format, not the functional one.The modified chronological format is often the most effective. Here’s the basic layout:
- Header (name, address, email address, phone numbers)
- Education (listing in reverse order with the highest degree listed first.
- Reverse chronological employment history emphasizing achievements in the last two or three jobs
- Not Including References
In the business world applicants often do not want to include references for fear of the word leaking out that they are looking for a job. But in education, a list of references is expected. Never, never, never say “References provided on request”. Not to include references can cause your resume to be put aside and never be picked up again. And make sure you have permission from the references to include work and home or cell numbers. This makes it more likely the prospective employer or search consultant can find them when they need them.
One typo can land your resume in the garbage. Spell check, proof-read, and then show your resume to several friends to have them proofread it as well. This document is a reflection of you and should be perfect.