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Published Jul. 17, 2008

Vague. Unclear. Ambiguous.

These are three words you never want a prospective employer to use to describe your resume or cover letter.

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The following job candidates sacrificed clarity for brevity to their detriment.

"JOB DUTIES: Plenty."

Care to share any with us?

"EDUCATION: In progress."

The school of life.

"JOB DUTIES: Advertising sales representative. Sold advertising."

We would never have guessed.

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Provide hiring managers with information that sheds light on who you are and what you have done professionally. And whenever possible, quantify your biggest accomplishments.

Consider this excellent example:

"JOB DUTIES: Advertising sales representative. Sold print and online advertising to businesses in the greater Philadelphia region. Through meticulous market research and frequent face-to-face meetings with clients, grew sales by 33 percent since taking over the territory in 2005."

Max Messmer is chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, a specialized staffing firm, and author of "Managing Your Career For Dummies" and "Job Hunting For Dummies, 2nd Edition". His most recent book is "Human Resources Kit For Dummies, 2nd Edition".

Be vigilant about proofreading documents

This recent college graduate forgot to add a much-needed colon:

"EDUCATION: Minor public relations"

A PR rep who will only work with kids.

In addition to running spell-check and editing for grammatical erros, read every sentence aloud to make sure your meaning is clear.

You also might ask a detail-oriented friend or family member to review your resume and cover letter.

"JOB HISTORY: Cashier. Able to receive excellent customer service."

It's better to give than to receive.

"OVERVIEW: I have an open mind and a very hard worker."

Can we interview him instead?

COVER LETTER: "I have many work ethics."

As long as it's strong, you only need one.