2 resume mistakes that thwart your goals

Resumes are marketing documents -- they need to portray you in the best possible light

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY The resume is a funny little document. The goal is to get you a job interview, but can a one-page statement of work history really convey much about a person? No wonder most people get their jobs through networking. A resume is kind of a cold introduction.

That said, it's still the introduction many people rely on. So I asked Will Russell, cofounder with Jon Arkin of ReadyRez, a free resume building site, for what he's learned from studying the resume business.

It turns out there are two philosophical mistakes people make. First, people "get very hung up on trying to get the resume formatted the right way," says Russell, and in doing so, "lose sight of the information that needs to be there." You spend more time thinking about the font, and whether there should be a line under your name than what the words say. Let's face it: most of us aren't applying for graphic design jobs, so we're out of our element (one reason Russell's software formats everything for you).

The second mistake is that once people get a job, they hope never to need to think about their resumes again. But this is silly; the average job tenure is down to about four years. Chances are you will need that resume again -- just as soon as you've stopped thinking about what might go on it.

The solution? "Every few months, take a step back, and do a quarterly review for yourself," says Russell. "Who can remember stuff from a year and a half ago? But if you wrote it down that quarter, you're good." You'll know exactly what accomplishments you can list on your resume. Even better? A quarterly review will encourage you to think ahead and figure out what you'd like to write down when you check in three months later. And that will give you a lot more victories to put on the resume.

When did you last update your resume?