Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Posts Tagged ‘Resume’

The Worst Resume Mistake EVER!

Posted by sweens on March 29, 2011

By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer

What could possibly be the worst mistake you could make when it comes to your resume?

Not targeting it to the kind of job you’re looking for is a biggie. Leaving out keywords that a scanner can pick up is another no-no. So is failing to list your achievements in ways the reader will find meaningful.
But the biggest error of all in putting your resume together is simply this: being sloppy.
A spelling mistake here. Forgetting to leave out information that could be used to discriminate against you there. Sending it in the wrong format. Small bits of sloppiness add up quickly. They can end up getting your resume tossed into the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” pile in a flash. So here are three tips to prevent this from happening.

Tip 1. Don’t Rely Entirely on Spell Check When Proofreading
Think your word processing software will fix all the mistake on your resume? Well, mine couldn’t figure out that in the previous sentence I should have written “all the mistakes” rather than using the singular form of the word “mistake.” Instead, it told me to write “fix the entire mistake on your resume.” So much for letting your computer proofread your resume for you.
What should you do as an alternative? Check out how to get others to go over your pre-final draft and catch the errors. Either free or for a fee, a few more pairs of eyes on your work can spot what you – and that pricey word processor of yours – didn’t.

Tip 2. Customize Your Wording To The Job You’re Applying For
Generic resumes are a dime a dozen. You may be able to get away with a “one size fits all” approach if applying for lower paying jobs such as retail clerk or warehouse worker. But for the higher paying jobs, an employer expects you to put in some extra effort.
Try your best to match the requirements listed in the job ads you’re applying for. And create a dynamic Summary section atop the first page.

Tip 3. Send It In The Proper Format
In our era of electronic job postings and e-resume submissions (sending your application via e-mail and online form), don’t guess which format the employer prefers.

Follow their instructions on the job posting carefully. If sending directly to an employer via their e-mail, include your resume as scannable text within the body of the e-mail itself; then attach a version with nice layout and fancier fonts too, just in case they want to show it around to other staff.


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$13 an Hour? 500 Sign Up, 1 Wins a Job

Posted by sweens on October 22, 2009

By Michael Luo
Published: October 21, 2009
BURNS HARBOR, Ind. — As soon as the job opening was posted on the afternoon of Friday, July 10, the deluge began.

C.R. Engliand, a nationwide trucking company, needed an administrative assistant for its bustling driver training school here. Responsibilities included data entry, assembling paperwork and making copies.

It was a bona-fide opening at a decent wage, making it the rarest of commodities here in northwest Indiana, where steel industry layoffs have helped drive unemployment to about 10 percent.

When Stacey Ross, C. R. England’s head of corporate recruiting, arrived at her desk at the company’s Salt Lake City headquarters the next Monday, she found about 300 applications in the company’s e-mail inbox. And the fax machine had spit out an inch-and-a-half thick stack of résumés before running out of paper. By the time she pulled the posting off later in the day, she guessed nearly 500 people had applied for the $13-an-hour job. “It was just shocking,” she said. “I had never seen anything so big.”

Ms. Ross had only a limited amount of time to sort through the résumés. While C. R. England has not been immune to the downturn, it has added significantly to its stable of drivers and continued to hire office staff members to support them. Ms. Ross was also trying to fill more than two dozen other positions.

The 34-year-old recruiter decided the fairest approach was simply to start at the beginning, reviewing résumés in the order in which they came in. When she found a desirable candidate, she called to ask a few preliminary questions, before forwarding the name along to Chris Kelsey, the school’s director. When he had a big enough pool to evaluate, she would stop. Anyone she did not get to was simply out of luck.

She dropped significantly overqualified candidates right away, reasoning that they would leave when the economy improved. Among them was a former I.B.M. business analyst with 18 years experience; a former director of human resources; and someone with a master’s degree and 12 years at Deloitte & Touche, the accounting firm.

Over the course of four days, Ms. Ross forwarded 61 résumés to Mr. Kelsey, while rejecting 210 others. The remainder never even got a look. Many were, in fact, never uploaded to the company’s internal system because there were too many.

Just before the advertisement was removed, a standard one-page résumé arrived from Tiffany Block, 28, who lived in nearby Portage and had lost her job four months earlier as an accounts receivable manager at a building company when it closed its Indiana office.

Someone she knew had applied for the job and had said so on Facebook. Ms. Block went to the company’s Web site and filed an application online, which many others had not. By doing do, her application went directly into the company’s system. She was hardly optimistic, since she had not had an interview in months.

Ms. Ross, however, passed it on the next day to Mr. Kelsey.

Attendance at Mr. Kelsey’s school has surged during the recession. Mr. Kelsey, 33, had just promoted one of his three administrative assistants, who handle the paperwork needed for drivers to hit the road. He needed a replacement quickly.

The overwhelming response astonished him. He asked Cheree Seawood, one of his current assistants, to go through the résumés and help pick out several to interview. To make the task easier, he decided they should be even more rigorous in ruling out anyone who appeared even slightly overqualified. Mr. Kelsey, an ardent New England Patriots fan, compared his personnel strategy to the team’s everyman approach.

“We like to get the fair and middling talent that will work for the wages and groom them from within,” he said.

In other words, he said, he did not want the former bank branch manager Ms. Ross had sent, or the woman who had once owned a trucking company, or even the former legal secretary.

He also realized that in this climate he could afford to be extra picky and require trucking industry experience.

The company eventually settled on eight people to interview, inviting in the first two just five days after the job was posted.

In the past, Mr. Kelsey had mostly ad-libbed interviews, but this time he asked his company’s human resources department for help. They sent him a list of 13 questions, as well as an eight-page packet with 128 questions grouped under 50 “competencies.” He decided he would ask them all.

At the end of each hourlong interview, he and Ms. Seawood each jotted down a rating for each applicant and then compared them.

Invariably, the candidates’ job search travails came up. One woman who lost her job had started working as a waitress and confessed she had come directly from her job on the overnight shift.

But Mr. Kelsey resolved to keep his personal sympathies at bay. “If you start judging applicants on want or need, eventually that want, or need, will go away when they get the job and their financial situation stabilizes,” he said. “Then you’re left with whatever skills they have.”

Before Ms. Seawood called Ms. Block to schedule an interview, she had been getting increasingly depressed.

“I felt like, I’m 28 years old, and I don’t have a job,” she said. “What am I doing with myself?”

But Mr. Kelsey was immediately impressed when she came in on the second day of interviews. Dressed in a conservative business suit, Ms. Block patiently answered all of the 100-plus questions. Mr. Kelsey liked that she remained consistent in her answers and showed independence.

Afterward, Mr. Kelsey gave Ms. Block a 9; Ms. Seawood rated her at a point lower.

The next week, however, Ms. Seawood gravitated to a different candidate. The woman had just had nose surgery and came in wearing a protective mask. Besides her qualifications, the fact she had not tried to postpone impressed Ms. Seawood.

But when Mr. Kelsey invited the woman back, the interview was a disaster. She grew visibly irritated amid his battery of questions.

Mr. Kelsey immediately called Ms. Block to ask if she could come in for a second interview.

Was an hour from now too soon?

Momentarily panicked, Ms. Block quickly assented.

Mr. Kelsey marched through many of his questions again. Then, trying to gauge her ability to be assertive among truck drivers, he added a new hypothetical: if she were in the stands at a baseball game and a foul ball came her way, would she stand up to try to catch it, or wait in her seat and hope it fell her way?

The other finalist had said she would wait. But Ms. Block said immediately that she would jump up to grab it.

Mr. Kelsey decided he had found his hire.

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Not looking for a job? Great. Not hearing about jobs? Why not?

Posted by sweens on October 19, 2009

I am pretty confident that if there was one thing that I could get consensus on it would  be that everyone hates searching for jobs. (If you are currently looking for a job, glad you are on my site)

The frustration of resume writing, interview prepping insecurity or trouble of not having a job is not the best experience. So when you finally get a job, most likely, you don’t want to go back to that god-forsaken process of searching again.

 If you are not looking for a job, I think that’s great –-you’re the type of candidate that recruiters love to know. You either, love your job and don’t want to leave, or you do not mind your job and you do not want to look for something else. Mind you, what I do not understand is why some people do not want to even hear about job opportunities. You may say that you are open to it, but are you? When is the last time you were offered a job when you were not looking for one? When someone offered you a job, did you stop and take note? Do you know how much your position goes for in another organization? Are you putting yourself out there to be found? 

 Whether or not youare the happiest person at your job, you should never runaway from hearing about potential jobs.

• You should always, always, know how much you are worth. Even if you love your job, knowing what someone else would pay you gives you extra leverage at your current job
• You might think that you have the best job, but what if an even better job is around the corner?
• You will never have to go back to the grind of actively searching again – you can just transfer from one job to the next without searching
• You always know that you are valued somewhere else

You never know the better option until you at least open yourself up to it…

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Presenting to the client: How tough is it?

Posted by sweens on July 8, 2009

In the recruiting business, getting a position that needs to be filled can be one of the most challenging pieces of the puzzle, but not always.  My office spent a few hours today discussing how we are going to continue responding to our Government bids moving forward – which has gotten me thinking that this is also one of the biggest pieces to the overall puzzle.

While the Government is unique in how they want to be presented with candidates, the ability to understand the presentation required in order to please your client is a key step to the whole process.  Often times, simply sending in a quick note about your candidate and a copy of their resume is not enough for your client, so you need a bit more.

As mentioned before, I do recruit some positions for partners of ours (System Integrators) and each partner has their own unique presentation style.  While the concept is the same for each, there is always a bit of difference from firm to firm.  Understanding these differences was ultimately the goal of my meeting today and we wanted to set up some best practices moving forward.

I wonder if other recruiters (ones who are hopefully reading this) go through similar exercises with their firms.  Is it common practice for staffing agencies to have templates and guidelines for how to deal with candidate presentations?  How about guidelines/expectations that they need to convey to their candidates?

Since my only tenure in the recruiting business has been with the same firm (which is not a bad thing) I have only been exposed to ‘our’ way of doing things and can only get bits and pieces of outside information on how other firms proceed with presentations.  I am asking for enlightenment, so please share!

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CV: Curriculum Vitae

Posted by sweens on June 19, 2009

As one of my fellow LinkedIn contacts pointed out to me, many people do not know what is meant when I or someone says the term ‘CV’.  So hopefully we can offer some clarity on the issue here.

 Curriculum Vitae – more commonly known as ‘CV’ is another term for resume.  Curriculum Vitae loosely translates’ into course of life – or so I read on the internet. 

 So when someone asks you for a copy of your CV – they really just want to see your resume.

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Resume Writing: The objective…

Posted by sweens on June 15, 2009

As my blogging buddy Jonathan McLeod has pointed out before, there are some points that candidates put on their CVs that a recruiter typically does not find very useful. I am speaking about your hobbies. However on the same train of thought, I would argue that the OBJECTIVE portion of your CV is a crucial one – but it is often done poorly.

‘The objective’ is usually the first part of your CV that I read when I am evaluating a resume. I want to see your objective match what my client is looking for. A mistake candidates often make is that they have a generic resume with a generic objective.

This is fine if you do not have any specific titles listed in your object and talk more about your desire to contribute to an organization, develop skills, etc. What you should avoid doing at all costs is having and objective that says “I am looking for an Architect position” and then submitting that resume to a Database Administrator position.

You now have a resume that does not match the job details/client needs and you likely just screened yourself out for that specific position.

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Keep your eyes on the prize…

Posted by sweens on June 10, 2009

And in this case, the prize is your newest job opportunity.  But in order to get that opportunity, you need to have a specific method of applying for opportunities.  This blog serves more as a reminder that when you (the candidate) are dealing with a recruiter or a staffing agency – you need to put yourself in their mindset.

 We look for ‘the’ candidate and not ‘a’ candidate.

 What does this mean?  It means you should avoid sending in your resume to a recruiter saying that you are interested in any positions they have open which may meet your skill set.  This translates’ into – you are open to any opportunity rather then the right opportunity.  This has the same effect as applying to multiple jobs with the same company or recruiter.

 I have said it before, but your resume should be tailored to a specific job.  Sending in the same resume for numerous jobs makes a recruiter wonder how you can be the right fit for one job, when you think you can do multiple jobs.

 Remember a company wants something specific!  Whether they go through a staffing firm or they do their own hiring – they have a specific list of requirements which you should try to meet with every application.  Aim to be ‘the’ candidate when applying for a job, rather then ‘a’ candidate…

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DOs and DON’Ts of resume writing: Don’t make mistakes….

Posted by sweens on June 9, 2009

Well to follow up my post from yesterday I have come across another issue with some of the work I have been doing. Mistakes in the resumes of my candidates! Hey, it happens. We all make mistakes but like any recruiter will tell you, showing ‘us’ your CV with a lot of mistakes in it, does not give a favourable impression.

I am not talking about spelling mistakes but rather mistakes in the overall formatting of the CV like: different fonts; projects out of order; and missing projects all together. These can really make sorting through your experience an ‘adventure’, not to mentioning completing grids a disaster.

Now I know this is a bit of a stereotype, but often times these mistakes are found in the CVs of some really senior candidates – but this a trend I would expect with new resume writers and not the experienced ones.

I am not meaning to point the blame anywhere because I certainly make my fair share of mistakes, and really, I can understand how a project gets numbered incorrectly when you are listing 39 projects in your resume. But do everyone a favour and proof read your CV a few times.

It will make everyone’s life easier in the long run…

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Resume Writing: Raw skills VS Industry experience…

Posted by sweens on February 13, 2009

When you sit down to write your resume, there should be two areas you are trying to reflect within your resume:


1)      Your industry experience

2)      Your raw skills


INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE: What I mean by ‘Industry Experience’ is that you are trying to demonstrate that you have worked within a given field (financial, medical, pharmaceutical, etc) and have gained experience from that industry which in turn makes you more qualified for a position with a new company relative to your previous industry experience.


RAW SKILLS:  What I mean by ‘Raw Skills’ is regardless of what industry you were working in, you are aiming to demonstrate the skills you developed previously.  This could be project management, people management, technical skills, etc.  Your resume is aiming to reflect that your skill set is transferable across different industries and not just specific to one.




Well first of all, this is important to think about because there are currently more people looking for employment then normal.  These people often represent larger organizations to which they have been employed by for many years.  I have also seen a lot of candidates lately from organizations that are declining in terms of both size and industry.  As such, the likelihood of finding employment within that industry is shrinking.



Let us assume that someone is laid off from General Motors or Nortel these days.  Both of those companies are cutting staff but more importantly their respective industries are hurting.  In the case of Nortel and General Motors, if someone is laid off from either company tomorrow, they will unlikely walk down the street and find employment with one of their competitors.  This is simply because these industries are not hiring like they were a year ago.




This is where marketing your raw skills rather then your industry experience comes into play.  Candidates should evaluate what their most recent industry is doing.  Is it growing, holding steady or in decline?  If it is declining (especially rapidly) then you should be aware that there are likely going to be less jobs available within that industry and you are likely going to switch industries to find employment.  This in most cases means that your previous industry work experience is un-related to your next opportunity and you should therefore aim to market your raw skills, rather then your industry experience. 


This means to talk less about the products you worked on and focus more on:

         What you were doing

         How you did it

         How big your team was

         How your brought in structure

         Did you set up processes



The aim for current resume writing should be to maximize your chance of getting the opportunity you are looking for.  Understanding where the market is going and what to present on your resume are vital to reflecting the image you need to be casting on others.  Talking about your industry experience that is totally un-related to the job you are applying for can often saturate your resume with information that the reader is not looking for, and the important information you want to show through, can be lost.

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