As someone who has been on the front lines of hiring for national and local businesses, I can speak to the importance of submitting a clear, focused and well-written resume.
The most important piece of advice I can give to job applicants is to spend time reviewing your resume with a friend, colleague or mentor. Honest feedback will help to catch not only the simple grammatical errors that are common to many resumes, but will also help to ensure you are sending the right message to your potential employer.
One of the most common mistakes I frequently come across is that a resume appears to be unfocused and not targeted to the position.
Some resumes come across like machine gun fire in an action movie. I get the impression the sender has sprayed their resumes around indiscriminately, hoping that one of them will hit its mark. Unfortunately, this is a waste of time and energy for both the applicant and the employer.
When I see a resume with a job objective that is clearly not in line with the position for which we are hiring, or with no job objective and no relevant experience, that resume typically goes in the "NO" pile immediately. With so many qualified candidates out there, I know better than to spend precious time and resources interviewing candidates that are a poor fit. Yet, it's quite possible that some of those discarded resumes belong to people that would be perfect for the job!
The best thing you can do is look closely at your resume with the following three questions in mind:
1) What is your career objective? Where do you want to go in your next job? (You MUST know the answer to this question to have a powerful resume. You can have more than one answer; that's when multiple resumes come in handy!)
2) What skills, talents and accomplishments from your previous experience speak to the skills and talents you will need in this next job?
3) Which of the wonderful accomplishments I have proudly achieved can I strike from my resume because they do not speak directly to qualifications for the position I am aiming to attain?
If your resume is focused, properly highlights your strengths for the position and does not waste space and time on irrelevant and potentially distracting information about yourself, you will be sure to gain the full long look of a hiring manager when your resume comes across his or her desk. And remember: always, ALWAYS proofread!