If you're not careful, your resume can do as much harm as good when you're on the job market. We turned to Laura McGarrity, an executive with the IT recruiting firm Mondo, for advice on how to avoid resume no-nos. She shared five common mistakes her firm sees IT pros make.
1. Listing too much experience.
IT greenhorns grapple with a lack of experience when they hit the job market. Veterans deal with the opposite problem: Too much work history. It might be an unpleasant truth for midcareer IT pros, but according to McGarrity, some resumes pack in too many previous positions, which can date you -- especially if long-ago jobs are no longer relevant to your current search. If you've got 20-something years of experience, you might want pare it down to the most recent 15 years.
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"80% of the positions we work on require searching for innovative, fresh, young talent," McGarrity said in an email interview. "While you want to include all of your [relevant] experience in your resume, there is no benefit in listing experience that goes back 15-plus years. The market seems to have adopted the [mindset]: 'less is more.'"
2. Highlighting the wrong skills.
Don't lie on your resume. But do customize it for different positions and employers. That's not to say you shouldn't show versatility and depth, per se, but that you should prioritize your most pertinent skills and experience based on each job you apply for. Many recruiters and hiring managers offer similar wisdom, yet it's easy to take the one-resume-fits-all approach. Doing so will put you at a disadvantage.
"Tailor your resume to the opportunity you are applying for," McGarrity said. "Highlight and list the most relevant skills first on your resume. For example, if you’re a front-end developer, don’t put .NET as your first skill set."
3. Using feeble, flabby vocabulary.
"[Avoid] using weak words that don’t show ownership or leadership of projects," McGarrity advised. "Where applicable -- for developers and programmers, [especially] -- shy away from words such as 'part of a team that developed' or 'was involved in.' It shows no ownership of projects, and just about every hiring manager wants go-getters." Instead, be specific about your role and responsibilities, underscoring achievements or leadership whenever possible.