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Resumes and First impressions

Hunting for a position in a new career field? Trying to take your new education or skills and transform them into a job with a future?

I've spent the last few weeks working in a placement service trying to help people find that first "career" job; trying to help them make the transition from student to employee. I see the same mistakes over and over again. Here are a couple of things to be aware of as you search for that fresh start.

1. The Skim Rule - Understand that most recruiters will only take less than 30 seconds to skim a resume for further review. Are your skills and abilities described in such a way that they leap off the page. Large companies now use recruiting software to determine which resumes will be processed for further review. If your resume is inconsistent, uses incorrect terminology for the position you're applying for, or is cluttered you might not make the cut.

2. Spell check, spell check, spell check - Then review for proper grammar and usage. I can't tell you how many resumes are ignored each day because the grammar, spelling or word usage is improper. If you don't take the time to verify that the resume you're sending is correct, how careful will you be with your potential employer's information?

3. Acronyms and Jargon - Unless the jargon or acronym is standard in the industry try to avoid it. If the recruiter does not understand what you are referring too, then they are unlikely to continue reviewing the resume. Take the time to define and describe your acronyms, jargon or software functions.

4. Contact Phone Number - You've put your contact phone number on your resume. Is it actually a number you can be reached at? If you are using your cell phone will you be able to keep the service current and turned on? Will other people be answering the phone? Will they know how to take a message?

5. Voice Mail - Your cell phone and answering machine messages provide the ability to include music, speech clips and even real audio in your greeting. I know the temptation to play your favorite song or audio clip for you callers is great; however I suggest you resist. You want to give a potential employer a good first impression when they attempt to reach you to set up the initial interview. Your voice mail message should include your name, a brief message requesting information and an assurance that you will return the call. For example: "You have reached Carole Jones, I'm unable to answer the phone at this time, but if you will leave your name and number I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you."

6. The Application - Your resume can say anything you want to about yourself. A Resume is merely an ad to sell you to a potential employer. When you are asked to fill out an application you are creating a legal document. The application needs to be complete and honest. If the company uses any type of background check you can be disqualified from consideration because of inaccuracies on the application. It is never appropriate to refer to your resume on an application (i.e. SEE RESUME). Take the time to provide complete and accurate information.

7. References - Do the people you have listed for your reference know they are being used as a reference? Have you requested permission to use them as references in the past? Do you keep in touch with you references? Nothing leaves a bad impression like the potential employer trying to check references only to have the contact person confused or worse yet, unprepared to speak on your behalf. Always let your reference know if you have had a great interview and you think the potential employer will be checking references. While you're at it, make sure that the contact information you are providing is accurate and current. Nothing will disqualify you faster than the future employer's inability to verify your references or work history.

If you are interest in leadership theory and practices then you need to visit: Carole Sue Jones is a contributing writer and thinker for our organization. In addition, as a leader you may be interested in If you are interested in help with your resume visit

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