The job search process has changed a lot in the last few years, but one thing remains the same: your resume can make or break your chances of being hired. Potential employers sometimes screen hundreds of resumes each day. That means any glaring mistake may immediately doom your resume and your employment chances to the circular file.
Your resume is a great opportunity to reveal the true story about your professional life and your accomplishments. So don’t let a sloppy mistake obscure the image of the real you. Create a resume that shines by avoiding these common mistakes.
Spelling and grammatical errors
All it takes is one typo to make you look unprofessional. There is no excuse for such mistakes when word-processing programs easily allow you to check and correct them. It’s good practice to ask a trusted friend to proofread your resume as well, to pick up on any errors that your spell check may have missed.
Lack of specifics
Avoid vague, meaningless job descriptions that could apply to anyone. Be very specific about things you’ve accomplished in each of your positions. State that you increased sales by 20% or that you made specific improvements to customer service in your company. If you are simply providing a generic list of job descriptions, it says nothing about the real you or why an employer should hire you.
The one-size-fits all, mass mailing approach
Every company and position is different, and a good professional resume will reflect these differences. By mass producing the same generic resume for everyone, you are signaling that this position is not especially important to you. If you want a prospective employer to take the time to interview you, show them the same respect by taking time to tailor previous experiences and accomplishments to that specific job.
Please, have some sympathy for these employers who must wade through hundreds of resumes on a routine basis. Respect their time by showcasing only relevant highlights of your career on your professional resume. You don’t need to list every position you’ve held in the last 10-20 years. Just include those that are relevant and try to keep your resume to one page, or at most two.
A meaningless objective
There is disagreement about whether an objective is even necessary in a resume. Some feel that it’s irrelevant; if you’re applying for the job, it’s obvious that you want it. If you do include an objective, make it very specific and employer-focused. Try to phrase your objective so that it reflects the company and the position for which you’re applying. A vague objective is worse than none at all.
Distracting designs and fonts
Let your achievements speak for themselves; don’t distract from them with fancy fonts and elaborate backgrounds. These days, most resumes are viewed on a screen so it’s to your advantage to make them as readable as possible. Curly, elegant fonts can be very hard to read; use a simple font such as Arial.
In today’s job market, you can’t afford to make this mistake. Most companies use preliminary screening software to spot keywords that are relevant to the position. If yours doesn’t make the cut, a human may never lay eyes on it at all.
So try to pick out the keywords in the job description and use them in your professional resume. The keywords are usually industry-related and may be repeated several times. By using keywords, you’re showing that you understand the importance of the specific skills or qualifications that the company is seeking.
No emphasis on accomplishments
Avoid a laundry list of job descriptions and duties. Instead, make it clear exactly what you accomplished in those roles. Don’t just state that you were in charge of the human resources department; specifically mention your accomplishments related to things like new hires and retention of staff.
An employer does not need to know about your age, religion, or marital status, so just leave these things out. In fact, it’s illegal for them to ask you about them and including them will just distract from your resume highlights.
It may be tempting if you feel that your experience or education are not impressive, but trust me: giving false or exaggerated information on your resume will do more harm than good. Prospective employers are skilled at discerning inaccuracies in job titles and skills. Falsifying this information can distract from your real achievements. Give the real you a fair chance to make a good impression.
Too much jargon
There’s a good chance that the first hoop your professional resume needs to jump through is an HR person who does the initial screening. So please avoid industry-specific buzzwords especially the ones that needs to be googled first before understanding it. These do not really impress anyone and most of the time they don’t add anything important. Remember that individual organizations often have their own unique terms for certain things which are unknown outside that company.
Inaccurate Contact Information
Imagine that you’ve created the perfect resume, sent it to your dream company who decided to contact you for an interview… but you never hear from them simply because you made a typo in your phone number or email address. Surprisingly, this happens quite often! Be sure to double and triple check your contact information because if you can’t get the call, you can’t get the job.
Gaps in Employment
Any mysterious gaps in your work history could send the wrong message about you, leading potential employers to come to their own very unflattering conclusions about your work ethic. So address any gaps in your employment honestly and in a positive light. Highlight any experiences during this gap which may have added to your skills. If you took time off for travel or freelancing, emphasize the skills and experience that you gained during this time. If you took time off to care for children or a family member, try to spin this in a positive light as well. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to hide your employment gap by falsifying dates. This kind of dishonesty will be easy to spot.
In general, references should be left out of resumes. Often company policy is to strive to avoid defamation lawsuits by only confirming that you work there, without giving any information about your performance. Of course, you will need to have some contacts that are willing to put in a good word for you if they are asked to do so. Reviewers will ask for references when and if they want them, so don’t waste valuable space on your resume by listing them. Simply mention that your references are available upon request and check with contacts ahead of them to assure that they are willing to provide a reference if asked.
Too much emphasis on unrelated work experience.
It’s possible that some previous jobs, though seemingly irrelevant, may have enhanced some relevant skills. Maybe working as a receptionist helped you develop your interpersonal skills, or maybe babysitting helped you become more flexible and creative. But remember that every line on your professional resume is valuable, and you will need to find a way to clearly relate it to the job you’re applying for. Don’t waste any space on work experiences that are irrelevant.
It may sound harsh, but prospective employers really don’t care about your love of scrapbooking or your obsession with Fantasy Football. In general, hobbies simply take up valuable time and space. There are times, however, when listing hobbies can be helpful. If you’re applying to work as an editor, a writing hobby is completely appropriate. If this particular company values creativity and innovation, your pursuits in graphic design or video editing can be assets. Sometimes your hobbies contribute to a relevant skill set; if that’s the case, go ahead and include them. Otherwise, leave them out.
If this portion is still vague for you, I think you need to consider the things the Recruiter wants to see in your resume for the first 15 seconds.
A lack of action verbs.
It all comes back to readability: sentences that use action verbs are more concise and persuasive. Instead of saying that you were responsible for new technology, say that you “implemented,” “accelerated” or “piloted” the use of new technology in your workplace.
Too much text.
No reviewer wants to wade through densely-packed blocks of text. Use a 1” margin and a readable font. Break up long paragraphs with bullet points. Not enough “white space” can make your resume difficult and cumbersome to read. Remember that your resume needs to include relevant highlights only and these should be easy for a reviewer to quickly scan.
Think of your resume like a telegraph that briefly informs potential employers of your skills and qualifications. They already know that the professional resume is about you, so don’t clutter it with personal pronouns such as “they, “he” or “you.” Instead of saying: “I developed a new software program,” just say: “Developed a new software program.”
The wrong verb tense.
Use the past tense when describing past job experiences, and the present tense for your current position. Just one caveat: when describing a past responsibility that was part of your current job and not ongoing, use the past tense for that too. For example, “organized charity event” or “supervised advisory committee.”
By avoiding these common errors, you can ensure that nothing in your resume will distract from the real you and all the great reasons that you’re perfect for the job.
Using a hideous Resume Template
Hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes daily. Most of the time, they only have a 10 to 15 seconds to glance at each resume and decide whether they want to consider you as a candidate. This very small window of opportunity is very critical to your success. So to be able to succeed, you need to capture their attention. We’ve been through with the content of your resume and I’m sure you have considered all the things you put in your resume. Now’s the time to present all the information in a well organized manner.
Sure you can just download a resume template from the internet. But be cautious, you’re playing with a double edged sword! What may be beautiful to your eyes is too much to other people. What looks boring to you is appealing to others. So what should you do?
I have this simple rule about this.
Less is more.
Why do you need to submit a colorful resume if you’re applying for a position in Finance? Using many loud and bright colors may be related to creative/design industry. Sure you can use colors but for the love of God, pick one that suits the industry.
To address this, present your resume in a minimalist approach. This way, you’re not just playing it safe, you’re also making sure that you’re not overdoing it. A much more convenient and efficient solution is to use a resume template such as those that I have in my resume gallery. Feel free to download it, don’t worry you don’t have to pay anything. Here are few of my attractive resume templates:
1. Hayley Williams Resume Template
This minimal and cleanly structured two paged resume template is perfect for every professional seeking for new job. It showcases your career experience which will help you get noticed easily by the recruiters. The format is focused on clarity and displays a subtle color for your resume header that holds your personal information. You can download this resume template, edit it in Microsoft Word, save to PDF and email it to the company your eyeing!
2. Anakin Skywalker Resume Template
As I’ve been saying, resume formatting really matters!
You need to make sure that you present yourself in the best light possible and having a well structured and organised resume like the one I have here (Anakin Skywalker Resume Template) really plays the part for you. This simple and minimal resume template presents your work experience while displaying your own brief and straight forward career summary. The resume template is very easy to edit in Microsoft Word. Just type in your details and its ready to go!