While your resume alone will never land you the job, it is a critical component in getting you the interview and an opportunity to sell yourself. To increase your likelihood of success, avoid these common resume mistakes.
- Spelling and Grammatical Errors—Your resume represents your professional brand to perspective employers so you want it to be flawless. You need to proofread it several times and then have someone else proofread it for you. Many hiring managers will automatically eliminate resumes with spelling and grammatical errors. It reflects poorly on your attention to detail.
- Focus on Listing Responsibilities— Your resume should not be a listing of your job responsibilities. This is not a job description. You need to focus your resume on your key accomplishments to demonstrate the value you brought to the company by being in this role. How did you make a difference?
- Lack of Quantitative Data—Where possible you need to quantify the results you achieved to put them in perspective. “Reduced costs by 20%” is more significant and impactful than “reduced costs.” “Designed and executed an online promotion campaign which increased market share resulting in increased revenue by 30%,” gives the reader a sense of what you did and the result. For companies that are not well known, it is helpful to give some perspective. “A technology company with $250 million in revenue.” Also add perspective where it helps someone understand the role and scope of responsibility, “hired and trained a team of 20 customer service representatives.”
- Reliance on Acronyms—Avoid acronyms that are commonly used outside the company. Use English to explain the system or program you worked on instead of company acronyms that no hiring manager will understand.
- Focus on Your Goals—Do not start your resume by stating your goal or professional objective. The hiring manager really doesn’t care that your goal is to achieve a financial management position within five years. Focus instead on a summary of your transferrable skills and competencies. Capture their attention up front to make them want to read the rest of your resume. Focus on what you can do for them.
- Lack of Customization—Often candidates are pursuing opportunities in different lines of work. In those instances it is important to have multiple versions of your resume to demonstrate your relevant transferrable skills. Your job history is the same but you may want to emphasize different skills and accomplishments depending on the type of position for which you are applying.
- Inconsistent bullet points and tense— You should always use present tense for your current position and past tense for all prior positions. Your bullets should also have a consistent structure and be easy for the hiring manager to read.
- More is not better—Hiring managers are quickly turned off by long resumes. Seven years or less of professional experience should always be kept to a single page and resumes otherwise should not exceed two pages. You should have more bullets for the current and relevant positions and significantly less detail on older positions. The resume is meant to summarize your professional experience not provide a detailed accounting. A resume that is multiple pages can quickly end up in the “no pile.”
- Failure to use action verbs— All bullet points on your resume should start with an action verb. Avoid phrases such as “responsible for” or “worked on”. Use a thesaurus if needed to identify strong action verbs to convey your experience. Be careful not to overuse the same action verb in multiple bullets.
- Not enough white space – Some resume writers get very creative and cram as much as possible on the page by narrowing the margins and shrinking the font. This results in a resume that is difficult to read. Many hiring managers won’t make the effort to carefully review a resume that is hard to read. Better to focus on the key points and leave some white space so a reader can see the true value you bring.
Investing the time and energy to create a focused, flawless resume will pay off in your job search.