A savvy resume follows certain rules that increase the possibility that it will get read. Most of these rules relate to a series of deadly resume errors reported by employers. The most common mistakes occur when writers fail to keep the purpose of their resume in mind.

Most errors kill a resume even before it gets fully read - the resume is literally "dead upon arrival." At best these errors leave negative impressions which are difficult to overcome at this or any other point in the hiring process.

Remember, hiring officials have two major inclusion/exclusion concerns in mind when reading your resume:
  1. They are looking for excuses to eliminate you from further consideration.
  2. They are looking for evidence to consider you for a job interview - how much value you will add to their operations.
Every time you make an error, you provide support for eliminating you from further consideration. Concentrate, instead, on providing support for being considered for a job interview.

Make sure your resume is not "dead on arrival." To ensure against this, avoid these 20 most common writing errors reported by employers:
  1. Not related to the employer's interests or needs; experience irrelevant to the position under consideration.

  2. Too long, short, or condensed.

  3. Poorly designed format and an unattractive appearance.

  4. Misspellings, bad grammar, and wordiness.

  5. Poor punctuation.

  6. Lengthy phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.

  7. Too slick, amateurish, or "gimmicky."

  8. Too boastful or dishonest.

  9. Critical categories, experience, and skills missing.

  10. Poorly organized - hard to understand or requires too much interpretation.

  11. Unexplained time gaps.

  12. Does not convey accomplishments or a pattern of performance from which the reader can predict future performance.

  13. Text does not support objective.

  14. Unclear or vague objective.

  15. Lacks credibility and content - includes lots of fluff and "canned" resume language.

  16. Appears over-qualified or under-qualified for the position.

  17. Includes a photo and lots of personal information, such as height, weight, and age.

  18. Lacks sufficient contact information (i.e., telephone or fax number) or appears somewhat anonymous (uses a P.O. Box for an address).

  19. Constantly refers to "I" and appears self-centered - fails to clearly communicate what he or she will likely do for the employer.

  20. Includes "red flag" information such as being fired or incarcerated, confessing health or performance problems, or stating salary figures, including salary requirements that may be too high or too low.

SOURCE: Ron and Caryl Krannich, The Savvy Resume Writer: The Behavioral Advantage (Manassas Park, VA: Impact Publications, 2000), pp. 37-40. All rights reserved.