As we jump into the new year, I wanted to share the most common mistakes that I see on resumes every day. Who makes these mistakes? Surprisingly, everyone – on every rung of the corporate ladder.
So here it is…my Top 10 Resume Mistakes!
Mistake #10) Using the standard Microsoft resume template that comes free with the software.
This is a mistake because you’re showing employers that you’ve put no thought into a professional and unique presentation. Any hiring manager or recruiter can spot an MS template a mile away.
Mistake #9) Starting the resume with an Objective Statement.
Big mistake! Most objectives sound like, “To obtain a challenging position in a growing company where I can utilize my skills and education”. Any employer’s first question will be, “Do you want to be a CFO or a cocktail waitress?” Unfortunately, this objective statement could apply to either, which means it should be applied to neither. Instead, create a 3-5 sentence Summary Statement that presents your top-level skills and clearly shows how you are unique and better-qualified than other candidates competing for the same job.
Mistake #8) Formatting with paragraphs instead of bullets in the body of the resume.
This is a mistake because people don’t sit down and read your resume like they do the newest John Irving novel. Instead, they skim and skip. This means that your best information could be buried in the middle of a paragraph…and never seen by human eyes. This is why bullet points are so important.
Mistake #7) Bullets that sound as if you cut and pasted them from your job descriptions.
If a company is hiring for an Administrative Assistant, they already know what one does. Therefore, bullets that say you type, file, create reports and answer the phone are a waste of space. Instead, use that space to state the great work you did on the job, and the positive impact that you made. If you are in a supportive role, use your bullets to discuss how your support has made someone else successful – all while focusing on your own accomplishments, results and impact.
Mistake #6) Don’t tailor your resume to the job.
Employers are inundated with hundreds of resumes for each job lead. The fastest way to a “thanks, but no thanks” letter is sending a generic resume. Show your potential employers (through a well-crafted resume) that you have read the job posting, that you are qualified, and that you’re capable of solving the company’s problems. Not doing this shows the employer that you’re simply machine-gunning your resume out to any employer, without any consideration of their needs.
Mistake #5) Overstate your skills.
As a resume writer, it’s my job to deliver the best resume possible that our clients have EARNED. What I mean by this is that it’s a fine line between putting your best foot forward on a resume, and lying. Recruiters, hiring managers and others who read resumes for a living are trained to spot the exaggerations.
Mistake #4) Go over 2 pages.
I get it; you’re special. You’re unique. Your mom thinks you’re amazing. But your future employers don’t want to know that much about you! Your 5, 15, 25 even 35 year history must be condensed within the boundaries of 2 pages…but 1 page is best. For those of you who think it can’t be done, it can. One of my clients is the former General Manager of a Fortune 500 food company. He had a 40-year career history yet he left my office with a 1-page resume. He was hired by another Fortune 500 within a few weeks. If it works for him, it works for you.
Mistake #3) Pretty it up with graphics and colorful fonts.
No one EVER got a job because their name was printed in blue. I’ve also noticed an odd trend lately where candidates are putting their former employers’ logos on the resume. The truth is, this is theft of intellectual property. Employers are more than happy to repay the favor with a bad reference, so don’t risk it! I understand why candidates do these things. Times are tough and you’re looking for any way to stand out from the crowd. Stand out with your accomplishments, not gimmicks.
Mistake #2) Downgrade or devalue your experience.
Again, write yourself the best resume you’ve earned. That works on both sides of the coin. Don’t exaggerate, but don’t be afraid to brag a bit when you’ve actually earned the accolades. If you accomplished something amazing at work and DON’T include it in your resume, it might as well never have happened. Keep track of your accomplishments and update your resume frequently.
Mistake #1) Don’t ask multiple people to proofread your resume.
Here’s a true story: Through networking, a young man about 5 years into his career was lucky enough to schedule a coffee meeting with an employer. The meeting went very well. It went so well that the employer even re-wrote some of the job description to perfectly match the young candidate’s qualifications! In other words, the job was his to lose. All he had to do was turn in a resume and cover letter as a formality. In his haste to deliver his materials, he misspelled the employer’s name and made two other typos in the cover letter. Guess what? He lost the job…and a $15K bump in salary. I don’t care if the employer is standing in your home, tapping her foot, waiting for you to print out your resume and cover letter – take the time you need to proofread your materials, and have someone else do the same. If you ever think you don’t need to proofread, just remember ‘The $15,000 Typo’.
So there you have it, folks…my Top 10 Resume Mistakes. Are you committing any of them? It’s worth taking extra time to ensure that your job search is fruitful. The entire ResuMAYDAY team is wishing you the best success!