Resume Mistakes to Avoid
The resume is one of the very first things a potential employer will use to decide on the best candidates for an available job. Many employers will only give a resume a 20 to 30 second glance before deciding to keep it or toss it out. You need to make sure those few seconds count. While creating a resume that employers will notice is crucial, you must also keep in mind a few resume mistakes that could get your resume thrown into the "no" pile. Keep these common mistakes in mind as you prepare a new resume or update your existing one.
- You do not specify a connection to employer need. For every job you apply for, make sure your resume is adjusted to the specific requirements of the position. This means not sending out a blanket document to 60 job openings, but tweaking your objective and relevant job responsibilities to highlight your qualifications to match each job description.
- Lack of focus and direction. Steer clear of generic objective statements, like, "to obtain a position that utilizes my skills and experience." If you choose to include an objective, tailor it specifically to the job you are applying for so employers understand exactly what your career goals are. If you are unsure of what to say in an objective statement, it’s okay to leave it off.
- Padding and embellishments. In other words, lies. While it’s obviously important to make yourself shine in your resume, any untruths will be discovered and could lead to serious consequences down the line.
- Listing your job duties as a generic laundry list, such as "meeting with clients" or "training new employees." Add substance and meaning to your job duties, demonstrating your measurable accomplishments and how they can transfer to your next job. As you reflect on your work history, ask yourself how often you did a particular task and determine its impact. Did you do something no one else in your company did? Do these responsibilities match the needs of the job you are applying for? Help your future employer by enabling him or her to quickly match your achievements with what they need.
- Sticking important skills at the bottom. Avoid the cookie–cutter template of education/experience/skills. Specific skills, especially computer–related ones, should go near the top so the employer sees them first.
- Formatting and other visual, surface errors. Mistakes like this are completely unacceptable. If you are not sure about spelling or punctuation, enlist the help of someone who can proofread your resume and look for other problems. Do this several times until you are certain your resume is 100% error–free.
- Listing your references at the bottom of the resume. While it’s essential to have an updated list of references, do not include these when you send your resume. If an employer is interested in you, you will be asked to provide your references, at which point you can provide this information.
- Not using a format that is compatible when opened as an email attachment. Make sure that your document can be opened and viewed by all of the major word processing applications and will look exactly how you want it to look. This is a critical piece of the application process. If you are uncertain as to how to send your resume electronically, ask the hiring contact exactly how to save and send the document.
- Your resume contains complete sentences instead of bulleted statements using action verbs. As a rule of thumb, resumes should not be in narrative form unless specifically requested by an employer or job listing. Save the anecdotes for your cover letter and your interview.
- Leaving important information out. While it might seem logical to leave out short-term jobs, summer work, or volunteer experience unrelated to the position you are seeking, the soft, transferable skills you've gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) can be as important to employers as job-related skills.
Bonus tip: Once your resume is ready to go, take a look at your contact information. Is your email address professional, or is it more catered to your friends and family? Also, listen to your voicemail message on your cell phone. Is your outgoing message something you want an employer to hear? Take yourself and your career search seriously, and your employers will, too.Please note that while these tips may be helpful towards increasing your chances of landing a full-time position they in no way guarantee full-time employment.