Jobs are scarce these days and competition for every opening is fierce. Employers have reported that for every position advertised, hundreds of people send in applications for the job along with their resumes. The majority of these applicants are rejected, of course, because only one person is needed. Many applicants may be rejected for the job because of what they've put into their resumes. If you've been putting in any of the material cited below, stop! You may be hurting your chances of getting hired. (For other ways to help improve your chances of finding a job, check out 7 Job-Hunting Tips For 2011.)
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Unrelated Part Time or Temporary Work
Whatever job you're applying for, your employer is not interested in your jobs mowing the neighbor's lawn, washing dishes after school in a local restaurant and other simple odd jobs that do not relate to the job advertised.
Your interests or hobbies won't help you nail the job if they're unrelated to the position offered. Collecting rocks, for example, might help you secure a job as a geologist, but it won't help with most other positions. Mention only interests that make you a more attractive candidate for the job and exclude all the rest.
Boring Words and Resume Cliches
Words such as "team player", "detail-oriented" and other similar resume cliches are no longer effective in selling yourself to a prospective employer. Use powerful verbs to say the same thing. Find appropriate words in a thesaurus if necessary. For "team player", write: "cooperates and collaborates easily with other staff" or "scrupulously vigilant about details" instead of "detail oriented". A resume that's different than the usual run-of-the-mill submissions will grab the attention of HR people or whoever does the hiring.
High School Diploma
If you only have a high school education, it may be prudent not to include that fact, unless you are currently a college student in pursuit of a degree.
If you list your objectives, make them concrete. For example, something similar to the following can be very effective: Objective: To contribute to the success and profitability of the company through my effort, expertise and experience. A vague objective, such as the following, should not be in your resume. Objective: To help the company through my hard work. (For more help on strengthening your resume, read Revamp Your Resume: The Power Of Positive Spin.)
Don't send your photo along with your application. Your face is unimportant to a potential employer, unless a picture is requested, which is a rare occurrence. Some people who have sent photographs with job applications and have not been hired have brought lawsuits for discrimination against the company which declined to hire them. The employer is likely to ignore all applications with a picture of the applicant attached.
Your age, race, religion, medical condition, disability, height, weight and sexual orientation are irrelevant. The law requires employers to disregard these qualities in their hiring decisions. Nevertheless, many of them ignore the law, and base their application rejections on one or all of these factors.
Don't broadcast your weaknesses. For example, don't write something like: "I'm good at word processing, but not quite up to par on Excel and Power Point." Lead from your strengths. Don't give an employer an excuse to reject you. If you're asked, however, after you've applied for a job, don't lie or exaggerate - your weakness will become evident in time, and could lead to your dismissal, if not disclosed initially if asked.
Don't bad-mouth your previous boss. Don't complain about your financial troubles. If you were fired from your last position for pilfering paper clips, don't mention it. If you were dishonorably discharged from the military, or did a prison stretch, don't mention it. You can be truthful about any of these issues only if asked.
Lies and/or Exaggerations
Don't lie about your experience, education or achievements. Don't inflate your previous salary. Employers in these tough times have been verifying facts on applicants resumes, and almost every lie and exaggeration will be nailed.
If you're applying for a job in a certain industry, just to learn that business as a stepping stone to another position, don't mention that. Many younger applicants cite their long-term goals in their resumes which result in their rejection. Employers want applicants to focus on the job they're offering, not on some future job.
Politics, Prejudices and Personal Preferences
Whatever your political persuasion, and whatever or whoever you dislike, should not be included in your resume. You may like or dislike the current government administration, but your potential employer will probably not care.
The Bottom Line
Landing a job is tough enough these days without the added disadvantage of a resume with material in it that should've been left out. Leave out the items mentioned above and you'll have a better chance of getting the job you applied for. Good luck. (To help you write a strong resume, see 4 Keyword Tips For A Winning Resume.)