3 common mistakes that IT professionals make on their résumés

Misspelling product names

For example, AS400 for AS/400, CPM for CP/M, dBase for dBASE, Hewlett Packard for Hewlett-Packard, PhotoShop for Photoshop, QuarkXpress for QuarkXPress and Quattro Pro for QuattroPro. You can't pass yourself off as being detail-oriented if your résumé has a misspelling.

Another common mistake is to include early software such as Ami Pro, CP/M, DOS, Windows 3.1, WordStar and WordPerfect 5.1 in a list of software proficiencies. Unless there is a particular reason for mentioning an old program, omit what is no longer relevant.

Failing to quantify achievements

Often people fail to quantify achievements in dollar amounts, percentages or other numbers. Achievements without numbers don't stack up well against those that are backed up with numbers in competitive résumés.

Little things matter in résumés. Distinguishing between written and verbal skills is a mistake, since all words, whether written or spoken, are verbal. The distinction you want to make is between written and oral skills.

Visually, it's a mistake to use ellipses to separate items such as software names or programming languages in a single block of text. Periods between items in a paragraph of items are visual noise and make the list busy and less readable. List the items.

Not understanding the difference between abbreviations and acronyms

An abbreviation consists of uppercase letters (without periods) that you can pronounce only as letters, such as PC, NT and TCP/IP. An acronym is a combination of letters making a word that you can pronounce as a word, such as Basic, Cobol and Fortran. Sometimes the acronym is formed from the initial letters of a group of words, as in Basic, for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.

Other acronyms are derived from multiple letters from a group of words, as in Cobol, for Common Business-Oriented Language or Fortran, for Formula Translator. An acronym such as radar (from radio detecting and ranging) has become so common that it is no longer uppercase.

And it's redundant to put colons after headings. A heading indicates that information is to follow. A colon indicates the same thing.

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