Whether you are writing your bio or resume, avoid these costly but common mistakes

When people choose my ‘Let Jill Write It” bio option, they often send me a copy of their CV to use as background information. While these are generally well-written, many make a common ‘mistake’ that actually distracts from the document’s effectiveness.

They over-format. Lines, boxes, shading, indents (often more than one level), multiple fonts or multiple sizes of the same font, miniscule margins. The CV ends up looking like a busy freeway at rush hour, and the reader doesn’t know where to start, or is put off right away due to the sheer volume of ‘data’ they’re presented with.

So if you are looking to update your bio, CV or resume, follow these simple rules:

  • One page only. No job needs more than 3-4 concise, well-constructed bullet points. Don’t go back more than 15 years unless there is a good reason to.
  • Choose one font style, and 2 font sizes.
  • Use bold and italic sparingly.
  • Give your document a file name that includes your name, eg Jill_Townsend_Resume.doc. Employers received hundreds if not thousands of resumes. Don’t make them search for yours by naming it “New_Bio.doc” or “My_Resume.doc”
  • There is no reason to use color or shading. It’s distracting.
  • If you have to minimize your margins in order to accommodate your content, go back and edit your content. Margins provide valuable ‘white space’ that makes your document easy to read.
  • Is your font size easy to read? Fonts vary, but I like 10 pt. Tahoma or 12 pt. Times Roman. Verdana and Arial are also good choices. The default for most Word (.doc) documents is Calibri or Cambria, both of which are fine. Comic Sans is not!
  • Don’t use big words when little ones will do.
  • Expect your potential employer to look at your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles as well. Do they complement your CV?

Over-formatting your bio or CV is not the end of the world, but it does weaken your message. The good news: focusing on content rather than presentation makes the process of writing or updating your bio or CV much easier, much faster and much more effective.

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