How to Avoid the 10 Biggest Resume Mistakes

10 Biggest Mistakes in Most Resumes

Resumes are everywhere; from the millions floating in cyberspace to a handful crossing a hiring manager’s desk to some being used as a coaster or scratch paper. How do you make sure your resume is being seen by the right people? Here are 10 things to avoid when drafting your resume.

Mistake 1 – Unclear message.

Too many resumes today have an unclear message. A lack of clarity about what the resume is going to be used for is the biggest problem that most job seekers encounter. If the writer of the resume is unclear about the value he or she has to offer, and the ideal type of job that the candidate wants, then the reader will have the same experience. The typical resume has 30 SECONDS to make an impression. That is, if it gets past the computer programs that scan resumes for key words. Your resume must have a message that yells to the reader that you are a qualified candidate for the job. Use your specialization statement to make the initial impression and engineer the rest of the resume to support that impression

Mistake 2 – Passive language and poor sentence structure

Passive language and poor sentence structure doom most resumes. Use strong and quantifiable language to demonstrate your unique skills and abilities. Check out the difference between these words and use these examples to help set the tone for your word choice:

  • Replace: 
    “Set up” with “established” 
    “Worked” with “fostered” 
    “Helped” with “aided” 
    “In-depth” with “expertise” 
    “Assisted” with “supervised” 
    “Cut” with “reduced”

  • Avoid boring, over-used words: 
    Excellent communication skills 
    Personable presenter 

  • Avoid age, health, and appearance related terms: 
    Professional appearance 

  • When possible, use numbers to quantify your achievements: 
    Managed group of 26 workers 
    Worked with over 425 clients 
    Increased sales from $1 Million to $3.6 million over a 3-year period

Mistake 3 – Poor use of real estate

Most resumes make poor use of real estate. The most important “real estate” of the resume is at the top. The first quarter of the resume is what most reviewers will read and it is the ideal place for you to make an impression. Don’t blow it! Here are a few tips for you to consider:

  • Make sure your name and contact information is easy to find. When employers are looking through hundreds of resumes they may want to find specific information. Put your name at the top of the resume along with your contact information so the reviewer can easily get in touch with you. If your resume is emailed, the file name should be your full name separated with underscores (EX. John P. Smith should be john_p_smith).

  • Have your specialization statement near the top of your resume and then use the remaining space of your resume to substantiate your claims.

  • If you have some summary bullets of the information in your job history to support those claims, like the number of years of experience or a claim of projects completed or money earned, then include those in quick hitting bullets under the specialization statement.

Mistake 4 – Inaccuracies or poor grammar

Too many resumes go out with inaccuracies or poor grammar. Proofread! Keep in mind that 76% of hiring managers discard applications if they find typos or grammatical errors. If you aren’t paying attention to this important document, how much attention will you pay when you are employed?

Mistake 5 – Keep it genuine and accurate.

Exaggeration is great… if you are a novelist or a storyteller. It’s not great if you have to back up your statements. Claim nothing that you can’t prove with facts.

Mistake 6 – Show, don’t tell.

Write about the your accomplishments instead of job description. State the results of your work rather than the work you did. There is a big difference between saying you did sales and stating that you grew a department’s sales 105% in the course of a 3-year period. Qualify your job description and then quantify your achievements.

Mistake 7 – Resumes are not about your ego.

What you want is less important than what you can do for a person or company. Some resumes have “Objective Statements” at the top of their resumes. This is a poor use of resume real estate because the reader is typically more interested in what you can do for them than what you are looking to do or get.

Mistake 8 – Improperly formatted for the job posting/type

Many resumes are improperly formatted for the job posting/type. Pick an appropriate resume format. Pick a resume format that supports your employment/education history. For example, the modified chronological or hybrid-style resume is more appropriate for those who have held positions in diverse industries. Chronological is more appropriate for the majority of people as it instantly supports your work history. If you chose the modified style, open with the same contact information/position and statement/support bullets and then highlight the best/most related accomplishments. Also, pick a resume format that mirrors your preferred industry. Creative people, like designers, may add design elements (pictures & art) to their resume as it is industry-appropriate. However, for the majority of people these design elements can cause reading problems so they should be avoided.

Mistake 9 – Same resume for multiple positions

Most people use the same resume for multiple positions. Create multiple customized resumes. Having one resume for all of your job applications would seem to make your job search easier, right? Wrong. Create several resumes tailored to the specific industry/job for which you desire employment. You will save time with this approach.

Here are some tips:

  • Create multiple resumes specified for various job postings- even if they are in the same industry. Test your resume and the reactions you get after you submit your resume. If you interview for a position, is the interviewer pointing out holes in your resume? Are you not getting to the interview stage? Learn from this.

  • Create resumes that highlight specifics aspects of your skills and abilities, and use them as appropriate in your job search. If you have a resume that is more tailored to a specific field, then use it!

Mistake 10 – Relying too much on your resume

Everyone has a resume. EVERYONE. So if you do things that are unique and interesting, you will stand out. For example, get a personalized job seeking website. At MyOnlineCareerSpace you can build a personalized professional website for FREE. Use this in tandem with your resume to highlight more aspects of who you are and what you are about. Then, should someone want to find out more about you prior to an interview, they can do so in the comfort of their own office. Also, look to get personalized stationery. Use a graphic designer or a graphic designing program to get a defined look that you can use in your thank-you cards (after the interview, be sure to send a thank-you note) and your cover letters (if you need to mail in your application).

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