Jim Pallouras was a senior executive at a
national retailer based in the Northeast when
he was laid off as part of a downsizing last
year. He'd joined the company after leaving
the military, worked his way up the ladder
and took pride in his contributions as the
retailer expanded nationally.
When Mr. Pallouras sat down to update his
resume for the first time in years, he was
faced with the challenge of condensing a 30-year
career full of achievements into an effective
one - to two-page document. Yet, he remembers
thinking, "How hard could it be?"
He started by listing every important aspect
of his life dating back to the 1960's including
every job title he'd held at his former employer,
as well as his accomplishments from high school
through the Army. When he was done, his resume
stretched to three pages, starting with an
objective statement and ending with his marital
Once Mr. Pallouras' resume reached employers
and recruiters, they took one look before
dropping it into the wastebasket. It was wordy,
overdone, and out of touch with the realities
of a '90s job hunt. Fortunately, it wasn't
long before Mr. Pallouras realized his resume
had problems. After gathering critical advice,
he revised it to present a more competitive
version of himself. The rewrite worked. His
new, improved resume generated interviews,
which led to another senior-level position.
Red Flags Flying
Executive recruiters, professional resume
writers and human resource managers say they've
seen more poorly written resumes cross their
desks recently than ever before. So before
you waste time, money and postage with a resume
that will eliminate you from consideration,
review the following common mistakes to make
sure you avoid them in your documents:
Mistake #1: No Dates Listed
"I can understand that by leaving off graduation
and employment dates, the candidate's intention
may be to avoid possible age discrimination,"
says executive recruiter Edward M. Hughes,
Vice President of Hughes & Podesla Associates
in Somerville, N.J. "But most corporate recruiters
use resumes to screen out rather than screen
in candidates," and a resume without dates
won't be considered, he says.
From a recruiter's perspective, candidates
eliminate dates on their resumes for only
one reason: to hide information, such as a
history of job-hopping or a long period of
unemployment. As an alternative, Mr. Hughes
suggests focusing only on the last 10 to 15
years of your professional experience.
"It's a double-edged sword," he says. "You
want to diminish the negative and do everything
you can to get an interview. But the people
on the recruiting end tend to be myopic to
the fact that the economy has put many well-qualified
senior execs into the position of having to
vie for fewer jobs, and you have to be somewhat
sensitive to that."
Mistake #2: Few Achievements Shown
The most frequent resume faux pas is to fill
it "with unsubstantiated claims and too much
industry jargon that doesn't sell the candidate,"
says Alesia Benedict, Executive Director of
GetInterviews.com, a resume-writing firm in
Rochelle Park, N.J.
"A resume is a marketing document designed
to sell your skills and strengths," she says.
By including and highlighting specific achievements
that present a comprehensive picture of your
marketability, Ms. Benedict says that you'll
attract many more interview offers.
Mistake #3: Outdated Information
A glaring red flag on many resumes is job
descriptions dating back 30 or more years.
"A resume isn't your biography," says Ms.
Benedict. Employers want to know "what you've
done lately, so including information from
the 1970s is hardly relevant and can do much
more harm than good," she says.
Mistake #4: Calling Yourself a Consultant
Many candidates use the term "consultant"
to describe their current work status. But
unless you can quantify your consulting activities,
recruiters and hiring managers will be skeptical.
"The consultant title tends to be death on
a resume unless a specific task and result
are stated and the consulting project is for
a recognizable concern," says Steven M. Lavender,
president of Morgan/Webber Inc., an executive
search and consulting firm in Massapequa,
Mistake #5: Irrelevant Information
Recruiters and HR specialists agree that listing
personal information isn't appropriate or
necessary on an executive resume, and including
your photograph is the worst offense of all.
"Your resume is the one step in your job search
over which you have total control," says Frank
Fox, executive director of the Professional
Association of Resume Writers in St. Petersburg,
Fla. "Based on the strength of that one or
two pages of information, you'll either be
selected for an interview from among hundreds
of other candidates, or passed over." Thus,
every word you include should be meaningful
and help to sell your skills and experience.
Don't Forget to Network
For unemployed senior-level executives, handing
out resumes should be a full-time job. "Eighty
percent of jobs are filled through networking,
so contact absolutely everyone you know -in
addition to head-hunters-who's in a position
to hire you" or suggest others for you to
meet, says Mr. Hughes.
"Networking can include personal business
contacts, people you've worked for, people
who worked for you but have moved on, vendors
and sales representatives you've dealt with
in the past five years, and even people listed
in the alumni directory of your alma mater,"
With an impressive resume in hand you'll greatly
increase your odds of earning a closer look.
While effective resumes get you in the door...successful
interviewing skills keep you there. Interviews
grant you the opportunity to do in-person
what your resume did on paper: sell yourself
and market your skills to a potential employer.
Unfortunately, most job seekers handle the
interview the same way as they always have:
they wake up, dress in a suit, drive to the
interview and answer the questions the interviewer
asks with the first thing that comes to their
mind: then they cross their fingers and hope
they "got the job."
Written by Kim Kovach
Original Publication Source:
National Business Employment Weekly
From the Publishers of the Wall Street Journal