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Author: Cliff Mintz

While a resume is required for all jobs, writing one that ultimately leads to a job interview and new job remains elusive to many. In many respects, resume writing is more of an art than a science and it can take many attempts to uncover a format/style that works for you. Below are six common mistakes to avoid when writing a resume.

  1. Don’t forget to include a “Summary of Qualifications.” Instead of an objective statement at the beginning of a resume, replace it with a “Summary of Qualifications” (SOQ); three to five sentences that highlight your skill sets, experience and personal attributes that will help to distinguish you from other job applicants. The SOQ ought to be constructed as a “30-second elevator pitch” that describes who you are and the value that you will bring to employers if they hire you. Don’t be afraid to pepper the SOQ with laudatory adjectives and action verbs to grab the hiring manager’s attention and distinguish you from other applicants. Put simply, don’t be humble!
  2. One size DOES NOT fit all! It is very tempting to craft a single resume and then submit it for all jobs that interest you. Unfortunately, this approach is certain to increase the likelihood that your resume will land in the recycle bin. Prospective employers want job applicants to take the time to write a detailed resume that clearly demonstrates how and why they are the right candidate to fill a particular job opening. First, identify the technical skills, educational background and responsibilities for a job and then craft/build a “unique and personalized” resume that showcases why you are the right fit candidate to fill it.
  3. Make sure to include keywords in your resume. Increasingly, many companies are using AST software and keyword searches to screen the large number of resumes that are received for job openings. A good way to identify what keywords to include in your resume is by carefully studying descriptions of the job opportunities that interest you. Once you identify key words from the job descriptions, liberally sprinkle them throughout your resumes, and most importantly, in the SOQ because this is what is read (scanned) first.
  4. Typos and spelling errors are forbidden. Given the fierce competition for jobs in today’s global economy, a single typo can land your resume in the “not interested” pile. Not surprisingly, resumes rife with typos and misspelled words indicate a lack of attention to detail; something that is vitally important for jobs in the biotechnology and life sciences industries. For example, a hiring manager I know who was seeking to hire a Senior Clinical Research Manager summarily rejected any job applicants whose resumes contained any typos! This is because typos in clinical documents may lead to regulatory delays for new drug approvals. Nevertheless, resumes should be spell-checked for typos and grammatical errors before they are submitted to prospective employers for consideration.
  5. Keep it simple. There is no need to use special fonts or color for a resume. It is best to stick to black and white color and use basic fonts like Arial, Tahoma or Calibri with sizes of 11 or 12 pt. The resume should have an “open” feel and not be filled with long dense blocks of text. Be certain to highlight your accomplishments rather than simply listing duties for different jobs. Prospective employers are much more interested in what was accomplished for a previous employer rather than what your job responsibilities were.
  6. Size does not matter. Urban legend suggests that a resume ought to be two pages or less in length. In reality, there are no absolutely no rules governing resume length! The goal of a well- crafted resume is to allow prospective employers to determine whether or not you are qualified for a specific position. While in some cases, a one or two page resume may be sufficient, don’t be afraid to craft longer resumes if additional space is necessary to present yourself in the best possible light to prospective employers.