by Andrea Gerson, founder of

Most job-seekers think they aren’t getting as many responses
to their applications as they expect because there is something inherently
wrong with them as applicants:  they are
too old, their work history is spotty, they did not graduate from an Ivy League
school, or perhaps, they are not multilingual. 
While there are many reasons candidates get weeded out early on in the
process, more common reasons are related to superficial issues with their
resume rather than with their actual work history.


I would estimate that 95% of resumes I see have at least one
formatting issue:  multiple fonts are
used, bullets aren’t identical, spacing is erratic, or the page and paragraph
borders don’t line up.  Inconsistencies
draw the viewer’s (read: Hiring Manager’s) attention away from the meaty
content, leaving them with a negative impression of your work ethic and
capabilities.  For C-Suite Assistants, it
can also show a lack of proficiency in Word, a skill essential to any level

Too Much Irrelevant

A potential employer
does not need to know that you completed a Shoemaking training program, that
you’ve been to 17 countries and that you love fishing,kayaking and jet-skiing –
unless all of these things directly pertain to the position you’re applying for.  Every line of the resume is valuable real
estate and should be used to play up the most relevant and impressive aspects
of your experience.  Include skills that
you excel at, certifications, training courses you’ve completed, and even an
interesting factoid, as these items are talking points for an interview and
show you are a well-rounded individual.  Use
your best judgment but try not to dedicate too much resume content to
superfluous information or extracurricular activities.

Including Photographs

Some things are better left off of your resume, such as references,
hobbies, professional headshots, etc.  Your
LinkedIn profile has space for these extras, and you can include your LinkedIn
URL on your resume, which I recommend. Some of my clients mistakenly believe
that including a photo will set them apart in the job search; however, it can actually
draw negative attention to your application. 
Unless you are seeking a professional modeling, acting or wait staff
position, I don’t recommend including photographs on your resume.

Old, Irrelevant

A general rule of thumb is to not go back more than 15 years
on a resume.  Besides the unfortunate
existence of ageism, a skill that you used in 1996 is unlikely to be fresh in
your memory or relevant today.  With
changing technology, having utilized Microsoft Office Suite 2001, for example,
doesn’t say very much about your current skill set.  Think about it; could you jump into a new
position and perform a task that you did 15 years ago?  Highly unlikely, although possible with a
brush-up session.  If you have some older
experience that you feel is necessary to include on your resume, you may want
to include one or two bullets highlighting major accomplishments, but I suggest
saving more real estate for the more recent positions.  You can also mention these “older” skills and
accomplishments in a cover letter.

Laundry Lists

Often, I receive resumes from clients that more closely
resemble a laundry list of mundane tasks and responsibilities. They neglect to highlight
professional accomplishments and their ability to solve problems and produce
results.  Your resume is your opportunity
to sell yourself and showcase your skills in the best possible light; don’t be
humble!  Play up your strengths and aim
to impress Hiring Managers.  Make sure
your accomplishments are specific, don’t dull up your resume with
generalities.  If you’re unsure of how to
do this, don’t worry; an expert with outside perspective can help identify and
showcase your skills and accomplishments.

Want to spruce up your resume?  Get 10% off an Advisor Package when
you mention C-Suite Assistants now through July 31, 2013.

Andrea Gerson is a Career Counselor based in
New York City
.  Originally
from Montreal, she worked in the non-profit sector for several years as a grant
writer and counselor for adults with mental illnesses.  She, herself, has
explored several different career paths: she drove an ice cream truck, opened
her own restaurant and earned a vocational degree in cabinetmaking.  
Andrea returned to school in 2008 and earned her Bachelor’s degree in
Psychology from Columbia University.  While attending Columbia, Andrea
began working as a Career Counselor for a non-profit organization, creating
resumes for students enrolled in GED and ESL classes.  Uncovering her
successes as a career counselor, she founded Resume Scripter in 2011, a career
counseling and resume and cover letter crafting service designed for every professional
level.  Since then, she has created and edited resumes and cover letters
for hundreds of clients across a broad range of sectors, including recent
graduates, senior executives, small business owners, investment bankers,
educators and foreign diplomats. In addition to running her own company, Andrea
is also attending New York University and working toward her Master’s degree in
Social Work.


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