What to avoid on your resume

December 18, 2009 at 4:15 am Leave a comment

Resumes are a preoccupation of many job hunters and no wonder — a polished, effective one is a ticket to landing a good job while a resume that misses the mark can quickly remove you from hiring managers’ callback lists. Most job hunters get good advice about what to list on their resume. What they’re usually not told is what to avoid — and listing too much can often cause a job hunter headaches as well.

So here are a few resume pet peeves of hiring managers and recruiters. Attempt to avoid these pitfalls:

*Having a two-page resume if you don’t have a great deal of experience. Journalism recruiters can’t stand “padded” resumes where someone with just a few years of experience lists every job they had — including summer lifeguard and grocery-store clerk — and goes into detail about every story they wrote on a three-month internship. List relevant journalism jobs and internships but leave out other jobs, especially temporary summer work. If you have been in the business for many years, you may need a second page. But make sure the job entries are meaningful and that you’re not wasting a recruiter’s time.

*Lists of “additional skills” that include knowledge one would expect professionals to have acquired such as familiarity or “proficiency” with Word, Outlook or AP style. And don’t say you have multimedia training if that consists of being able to navigate well on Facebook. List specific technical or multimedia skills and your level of knowledge. Be prepared to be questioned or even tested on the skills you mention. And make sure you are confident about your abilities in a foreign language before listing it on your resume, especially in D.C. where a good number of  hiring managers have spent some time overseas and may question you in that language — or find someone in their office who can do so.

*Long descriptions of jobs held. Provide details — in bulleted fashion — of the tasks you performed in your previous jobs but don’t go on and on about it. Be specific and brief.

*Overuse of “key” words (which job hunters hope will be picked up by search engines) which can be vague and unclear in job descriptions. Also, hiring managers can usually tell when a job candidate is inflating or overselling their experience — they often have contacts at the organizations mentioned and will call to ask what the job really entails if they are suspicious. Just as you don’t ever want to get caught in a lie on a resume, you want to avoid embellishment as well. Be straightforward and don’t try to juice up your resume with too many key words and phrases.

*And you can never have too much advice about holiday networking! David Martin, a managing partner with Sterling Martin Associates in D.C. and an executive recruiter who focuses on non-profit searches, has some  good, specific advice about making your time on the holiday networking circuit count:


*As always, some leads to pass along…the hat tip on the first two items is to The Pulse at businessjournalism.org:

*The Magazine Group is looking for a magazine editor to work in D.C.:

TMG, based in Washington, D.C., a custom-media firm, is looking for a seasoned magazine editor to spearhead content for a business/technology-related magazine aimed at K–12 education, plus work on other editorial projects.

The job title is Business/Technology Managing Editor (Education).

In TMG’s JournalismJobs.com listing, they ask for “candidates with substantial education technology experience and connections. The focus will be on providing tech-rich stories that detail how systems and communications help K–12 schools and organizations succeed.”

TMG, or The Magazine Group, works with a companies producing a variety of types of magazines, including health, technology, education, consumer, corporate and nonprofit.

*And Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine is looking for an investment writer in D.C.:

Do you spend your nights dreaming of investment strategies? Or often find yourself prompting conversations on stocks, bonds, markets and mutual funds? If this describes you, check out this job at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

The magazine is looking for a “ambitious, hard-charging and experienced” investment writer. They want someone with a proven track record who can write practical, easy-to-understand articles geared toward individual investors.

Kiplinger’s will give preference to applicants willing to relocate to D.C.  but also will consider contractual freelancers.

*And a reminder to journalism students — use your winter break to apply for summer 2010 internships; the deadline for many coveted D.C. internships is January or February. Here is information about one — with a weekly stipend! — at The Chronicle of Higher Education in D.C. (hat tip is to Poynter.org):

Editorial Intern POSTED: Dec 04
Salary: Starting at 500.00 Location: Washington, D.C.
Employer: The Chronicle of Higher Education Type: Contract – Internship
Category: Broadcast, Newspapers and Magazines Required Education: Some College

Employer Information

About The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education is an independent weekly newspaper in Washington, D.C. that covers all aspects of higher education. It is the No. 1 source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators.

View all our jobs

Job Description

The Chronicle of Higher Education is currently seeking interns for the summer 2010 session, which will begin in late May/early June. The Chronicle is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to maintaining a diverse work force.

The internships are full-time in our Washington, D.C., office and will last through late August/early September. In addition to a $500 weekly stipend, academic credit can often be arranged.

Three interns will be hired; we are looking for both undergraduates and recent graduates.

In addition, The Chronicle is offering a Diversity Internship to give current undergraduates and recent college graduates the opportunity to gain professional experience at the No. 1 source for news about higher education. The program aims to help bring greater diversity to the field of journalism by reaching out to students who are members of minority groups underrepresented in the industry. Applicants for this internship must have a strong interest in pursuing a career in journalism, and should note on their application that they are applying for The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Diversity Internship.

All of the interns will have the same primary responsibilities: reporting and writing daily news articles for The Chronicle‘s Web site (which usually appear subsequently in print), contributing brief features to the “Short Subjects” section, writing news articles for other sections of the newspaper, and doing research for special projects. There is very little grunt work. Interns who prove themselves as reporters and writers are often asked to write full-length features.

NOTES: 4 openings.
Additional Salary Information: $500 a week


Requirements: Experience writing for publication, either at a student newspaper or a professional publication, is required. Candidates with previous internships and deadline-reporting experience are preferred. Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, January 8, 2010. Applications that are late, e-mailed, or faxed will not be considered.

Applicants should send a cover letter; résumé with telephone, e-mail, and postal contact information; and a maximum of five varied and impressive clips to:

Beth McMurtrie
Internship Coordinator
The Chronicle of Higher Education
1255 23rd Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20037


Happy hunting! And enjoy those holiday parties but be careful out there — especially if it snows this weekend!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Grab bag — do’s and don’ts, collecting on free-lance and some leads How to take advantage of 2010 hiring plans

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

DC Works has moved!

I'm now blogging at dcworks.info. I hope you'll join me there!

%d bloggers like this: