by Kim Isaacs
Monster Resume Expert
Advanced Career Systems, Inc.
4695 Watson Drive, Doylestown, PA 18901
Toll-free (U.S. and Canada): (800) 203-0551
Worldwide: (215) 794-9527
Make sure your resume is top-notch by avoiding
the top 10 resume blunders:
1. Too Focused on Job Duties
Your resume should not be a boring listing of
job duties and responsibilities. Go beyond showing what was required and
demonstrate how you made a difference at each company, providing specific
examples. When developing your achievements, ask yourself:
How did you perform the job better than others?
What were the problems or challenges faced? How
did you overcome them? What were the results? How did the company benefit
from your performance?
Did you receive any awards, special recognition
or promotions as a result?
2. Flowery or General Objective Statement
Many candidates lose their readers in the beginning.
Statements like, "A challenging position enabling me to contribute to organizational
goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement," are overused,
too general and waste valuable space. If you're on a career track, replace
the objective with a tagline stating what you do or your expertise.
3. Too Short or Too Long
Many people try to squeeze their experiences onto
one page, because they've heard resumes shouldn't be longer. By doing this,
job seekers may delete impressive achievements. There are also candidates
who ramble on about irrelevant or redundant experiences. There is no rule
about appropriate resume length. When writing your resume, ask yourself,
"Will this statement help me land an interview?" Every word should sell
you, so only include information that elicits a "yes."
4. Using Personal Pronouns and Articles
A resume is a form of business communication,
so it should be concise and written in a telegraphic style. There should
be no mentions of "I" or "me," and only minimal use of articles. For example:
I developed a new product that added $2 million
in sales and increased the market segment's gross margin by 12 percent.
should be changed to:
Developed new product that added $2 million in
sales and increased market segment's gross margin by 12 percent.
5. Listing Irrelevant Information
Many people include their interests, but they
should only include those relating to the job. For example, if a candidate
is applying for a position as a ski instructor, he should list cross-country
skiing as a hobby.
Personal information, such as date of birth, marital
status, height and weight, normally should not be on the resume unless
you're an entertainment professional or job seeker outside the US.
6. Using a Functional Resume When You Have a Good
It is irksome for hiring managers not to see the
career progression and the impact made at each position. Unless you have
an emergency situation, such as virtually no work history or excessive
job-hopping, avoid the functional format.
The modified chronological format is often the
most effective. Here's the basic layout:
Header (name, address, email address, phone number).
Lead with a strong profile section detailing
the scope of your experience and areas of proficiency.
Reverse chronological employment history emphasizing
achievements in the past 10 to 15 years.
Education (New grads may put this at the top).
7. Not Including a Summary Section That Makes
an Initial Hard Sell
This is one of the job seeker's greatest tools.
Candidates who have done their homework will know the skills and competencies
important to the position. The summary should demonstrate the skill level
and experiences directly related to the position being sought.
To create a high-impact summary statement, peruse
job openings to determine what's important to employers. Next, write a
list of your matching skills, experience and education. Incorporate these
points into your summary.
8. Where Are the Keywords?
With so many companies using technology to store
resumes, the only hope a job seeker has of being found is to include relevant
keywords sprinkled throughout the resume. Determine keywords by reading
job descriptions that interest you and include them in your resume.
9. References Available
Employers know you have professional references.
Only use this statement to signal the end of a long resume or to round
out the design.
One typo can land your resume in the garbage.
Proofread and show your resume to several friends to have them proofread
it as well. This document is a reflection of you and should be perfect.
The Resume Expert
Resume Tips Message Board
Kim Isaacs is executive director of Advanced Career
Systems, a professional resume writing and career development firm. Isaacs
is a proponent of the idea that a resume should be a persuasive marketing
piece and not a dull career biography.
Isaacs is among a small percentage of resume writers
to earn the top two industry certifications, Nationally Certified Resume
Writer (NCRW) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). She is an
active member of the NRWA and the Professional Association of Resume Writers.
She serves as a member of the NRWA's Certification Commission for the NCRW
credential. Her work is featured in several best-selling resume books,
including Professional Resumes for Executives, Managers and Other Administrators,
Resume Winners from the Pros, Professional Resumes for Tax and Accounting
Occupations, Gallery of Best Cover Letters and Quick Resume and Cover Letter
Book. Resume samples also appear in the America Online Career Strategies
area. Her business has been featured in Small Business Opportunities Magazine
and New York Newsday, and she contributes articles for the resume industry
publication Resume Writers Resource. Isaacs is editor of "e-Job Search
Strategist," a free e-newsletter for job seekers.
Isaacs provides advice and guidance on how to
develop a winning resume. You can contact her at (888) 565-9290. Learn
more about Advanced Career Systems here. https://www.resumepower.com/
Assistant /Associate Reference Letters
for application to Physician
Assistant / Associate School offered by Sarah C. Shoaf,
DDS, MEd, MS
As someone who sits on our Admissions Committee, I'll tell you where
I like to see letters from. But again, all my opinion.
**Someone who knows you well and has seen you work clinically with patients
-- supervisor, boss, etc. If it is a physician or a PA, all the better
-- they should comment on how well you work w/ patients, their perceived
notion on how good a PA you would make, whether you make good clinical
decisions, whether you can handle emergencies and don't panic, work well
with other staff members as a team player, follow directions well, etc.
**Someone who knows you well and is well-acquainted w/ your academic
skills, preferably a teacher who has had you in a class and/or been an
academic advisor -- are you bright, quick learner, flexible, able to take
stress well, good at concentrating, good at details, top of your class?
**Third person should either be a second person who fills first criteria
above (you may have spent a lot of time w/ two docs or a doc and a PA,
etc.) OR someone who has known you for a LONG time (10,20 years)
who can testify to your character -- always helping people, superb moral
fiber, a pillar of the community, volunteer to do lots of things, trustworthy
for people to entrust their lives with you, loved by children and dogs,
etc. Ministers, doctor in the community, would be a good person for
**The 3 people who send you references should RAVE about you.
They should think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.
If you have a "big name" person who is only lukewarm about you, they WILL
NOT HELP you. The biggest "red flag" we see is someone who gets a
poor or lukewarm reference. The admissions committee expects to see
3 letters that say you walk on water.....
Now, all of the suggestions for things that would be positive attributes
that I've listed above can be attested to by any of the 3. Emphasis
on "team player," on knowledge of what a PA is and does, and your committment
to the concept (why not be a nurse? MD? Respriatory therapist? Dentist?
Pharmaceutical research chemist? Clinical psychologist? Lots of different
ways to "help people"...)
Be sure you fill out the application form correctly. If it says
"print" and you write in cursive, or if it says "blue or black ink" and
you write in green, it doesn't say much for someone who will have to follow
directions EXACTLY to save someone's life. Use the essay portion
of the application to essentially tell the admissions committee "why I
am a better candidate for the class slot over 2,000 other applicants" --
what about YOU is so different that you should be given the chance over
everybody else who is "fascinated with science of the human body" and wants
to "help people" and "shadowed a PA for a week and now that is what I want
to do because it is less time than medical school." Remember that
w/ the better schools, many are almost MORE competitive than medical schools
to get into (may take 1-3 years to get accepted!!), and many w/ their Master's
programs are 3 years instead of 2, so it is not much different from med
school. Remember, too, that you will be able to do less compared
to a physician once you get out -- there are some restrictions on you,
altho' they differ from state to state.
When you write your essay, read it over several times. Check and
recheck the spelling and grammar. Spelling errors in this day and
age only show you are sloppy, have no attention to detail, and don't really
care. (And you want to treat MY mother?!?!?) THEN have at least
two people read it -- one who knows you, and one who doesn't know you very
well. They should both go "WOW!" after they finish reading it --
it should have IMPACT. You are essentially lobbying for going to
PA school -- provide convincing arguments as to why you are better than
Joe Schmoe to be in their PA school class.
My last plea before you apply: Go and BUY (need the latest edition)
the paperback "What color is your parachute?" by R. Bolles. Go through
the book (takes a day to read) and do all the exercises (don't skip over
them!!) in the book. If at the end you still feel like being a PA
is what you really want to do, the guidelines for applicant letters, for
contacts, etc., are invaluable, AND you will have steeled your resolve
to get in -- focused, if you will on the "job" of getting into school.
Knowing that it is what you want to do, and WHY it is what you want to
do, and why you as a candidate are the "best for the job" of being a student
PA is crucial. And, of course, having all the requirements (working
clinical hours, courses, etc.) Many places will automatically reject
your application if you do not have the stated requirements. If there
is any question (a job may be borderline for being a clinical position,
etc.) you should call the admissions person at the schools you are interested
in. The more you talk w/ them, the more you'll know what each SCHOOL
is interested in, and how you can "shape" your answers to fit.
The last thing is that you should send your stuff in early. If
you can't plan something THIS IMPORTANT and get it in well ahead of the
deadline, then your organizational skills and depth of really wanting to
be a PA are really called into question. Plus, the better schools
will snatch up the good people early, so the sooner you get yours in, the
better you will look.
AND if you don't get asked for an interview, ASK WHY -- what can you
do to improve your application for next year? If you give up after
one unsuccessful attempt, then you really didn't want it very much, did
you? Schools want applicants who are DETERMINED to be a PA (for all
the reasons you've outlined in your essay...) and who will do whatever
it takes to get in.
Hope that helps!
Sarah C. Shoaf, DDS, MEd, MS
Diplomate, American Board of Orthodontics
Assistant Professor, Department of Dentistry
Wake Forest University School of Medicine
PA Program Admissions Committee and Interviewer
Bowman Gray PA Class of '77