As a professional résumé writer, Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, chief résumé designer at Pathfinder Writing and Career Services in Portland, Ore., has helped clients avoid just about every job-hunting mistake there is. Here are some that Rasmussen (MPI Oregon Chapter) urges meeting professionals to avoid.
Mistake No. 1: Focusing on what you want above all. Putting an “objective statement” that describes the type of position you’re seeking at the top of your résumé is a big mistake, Rasmussen says. A smarter move is to use a headline at the top of your résumé that underlines the fact that you can deliver what the employer is seeking.
“Connect what the employer is looking for and what your background offers,” she says.
Your headline should ideally reflect your role at work and your seniority level.
Mistake No. 2: Failing to quantify the results of your efforts. Rather than just list your job duties in each gig, show the ROI and results you delivered, Rasmussen advises. For instance, state that you increased the attendance of one of your events by 10 percent, year over year.
It’s not boasting, she says, it tells would-be employers and clients that you’re able to deliver real results.
Mistake No. 3: Focusing too much on your education credentials. “Employers care about education, but they care more about experience,” Rasmussen says.
Make it easy for hiring managers to see your experience near the top on your résumé—move the education section further down.
Mistake No. 4: Trying to be all things to all people. “People have to understand that employers are in an exact-match economy when they’re hiring people,” Rasmussen says. “If I’m hiring for a meeting planner, I want to see a résumé that talks about meeting planning.”
Instead of using a one-size-fits-all résumé for varying clients, tailor your résumé to the gig you’re seeking, she advises. The more focused you appear, the better.
Mistake No. 5: Describing yourself as a “thought leader.” If you have to proclaim that you’re a thought leader, it sends the message that you aren’t one, Rasmussen says. Your thought leadership will be implied if you include a “notable achievements” section of your résumé that mentions awards you’ve won, conferences at which you’ve spoken and blogs to which you’ve contributed.
“You are not overtly saying you’re a thought leader, you’re demonstrating how you stand out to your peers,” she says.
Mistake No. 6: Flubbing your job title. If you started at your organization as an assistant and, eight years later, have been promoted three times, don’t lump all of that experience under your current title, Rasmussen says. To avoid mischaracterizing your work history, break out each position within a given employer on your résumé.
“It shows more clearly the progression of your career,” she says.
Also avoid changing your title to one that sounds better, a practice Rasmussen calls “uptitling.”
Say you are a manager but do the work normally tackled by a vice president in your field. You could accurately describe your title as “manager (equivalent to vice president),” but not as “vice president.”
“You can never lie,” she says. “You have to be accurate.”