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Customize your resume and avoid common errors

September 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And for many job seekers these days, that first impression isn't face-to-face, it's through e-mail. With employers flooded with resumes, it's more crucial than ever for applicants to stand out in a positive way.

If you're not getting any responses on the resumes you've sent out, it just might be that your resume is hurting you because it is loaded with blunders. Fortunately there are ways to fix the most common mistakes.

With the unemployment rate near 10 percent, companies are bombarded with resumes each time they post a position.

Job search site CareerBuilder.com recently surveyed more than 2,500 hiring experts about how they review those applications.

Thirty-eight percent said they spend less than a minute reviewing a resume; 18 percent spend less than 30 seconds.

"We found that employers are getting hundreds of resumes and they're whittling it down to less than 25 that they're actually going to go through and make a decision who should come in for the next interview, and who should eventually get the job," said CareerBuilder.com Senior Advisor Michael Erwin.

Numbers like those can leave job hunters looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. But some attempts miss the mark.

Employers surveyed cited examples like a candidate who topped her resume with a picture of her cat.

Another applicant sent a 24-page resume covering achievements of a career spanning all of five years.

Another informed a hiring manager: "I'll have your job in five years."

The serious advice from these humorous anecdotes: Don't get too personal, and don't be too confident.

"You want to make sure that whatever you're doing to sell yourself, and to put yourself ahead of the competition, you're doing in a professional way," said Erwin.

For best results, eight in 10 employers surveyed said customizing an application with information specific to a job posting gets their attention first. Keep it professional. No cute e-mail addresses and no emoticons. And make it easy to read, with bullet points highlighting your best skills.

Most resumes include a chronological list of your professional accomplishments. But today, functional resumes are becoming more effective with employers. A functional resume emphasizes your skills and accomplishments in order of importance, rather than when they happened.

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