1. Using One Resume for All Applications
You have to tailor your resume to fit every job application – there is no “One Resume Fits All” format. Recruiters use a resume as a tool to shorten the list of potential interview candidates. Make sure your resume speaks directly to the job you’re applying for.
If you were applying to a nursing home, and you had to choose between including your volunteer history at a hospital, or your time as a member of your local photography club, which would you include? Probably your time at the hospital. First, include everything that fits with your desired job – then, and only then include everything else if there’s enough space.
2. Incorrect Resume Length
This will depend on the type of job you’re looking for. Many jobs – specifically ones in finance or very fast-paced businesses prefer that a resume be one page at most. This does not mean three quarters of a page, or one and a bit – one exactly.
Resumes for government positions, or other businesses such at marketing usually allow for longer resumes; about two to three pages. Research the industry, and keep it within that length.
3. Not Clearly Focused
Employers are very busy people – they usually only give your resume between 2 and 20 seconds to make an impression, and then it’s either the trash, or you’ve got yourself an interview.
Including an objective statement is a great way to make your intentions known. Be sure that your application package (resume and cover letter) clearly indicate the type of work you are looking for.
4. Spelling Mistakes
Speling mistakes do not look profesional. See? You would be surprised how many resumes have spelling and grammatical errors. Proof-read your resume, and have someone else look at it to be sure. Even just one mistake is enough reason for an employer to throw your resume in the trash.
5. Lack of Action Words
Make sure that you include ‘action words’ in your resume. These will help create energy and they’re what employers are looking for. They signal specific actions and skills, which are often sought after by companies.
Use words like “Achieved” or “Optimized” or “Supervised” where appropriate, but be careful not to overuse.
6. Irrelevant Information
Information such as your age, race, gender, nationality (sometimes), marital status, other personal information are not needed on a resume. Unless they are relevant to your job (in which case it will be made known to you before you apply), irrelevant information should be left off your resume. It also reduces the number of reasons to not offer you an interview.
7. Not Enough Self-Promotion
Go ahead! Talk about your achievements! That’s what a resume is for. Don’t be humble – if you were in charge of something that became a success, be sure to mention it in your resume.
Employers want to see what you achieved in your positions; they don’t want a job description. Instead of saying “Stacked boxes in storage facility” you could write “Improved inventory management, leading to 12% increase in turnaround time.”
Be sure to not stretch the truth – or lie. If caught, this could be detrimental to your career.
8. Incorrect Formatting
Make sure your resume looks nice. You can use a resume template if you like, but you may want to personalize it a bit. (Just don’t overdo it.)
It’s up to you what you want to put first, but be consistent; if you’re doing it chronologically, make sure everything on the resume is chronological. Be sure to use bullet points instead of paragraphs, and don’t forget to include your name and contact information at or near the top.
Unless you’re applying to a creative job (marketing, hair stylist, etc.) keep the resume in black and white.
9. Does Not Highlight Your Skills
Somewhere in the resume you should specifically point out your skills if your education or work experience hasn’t already done this for you. It could be a separate section, or part of your education section, but make sure it’s there.
10. References Included in Resume
You only need referenced if your employer requests it. Don’t list them on your resume. Even the phrase “Referenced available upon request.” can be left off, because it’s assumed you will be able to provide references.
Remember not to make these 10 mistakes, and your resume will be on track to getting you an interview!
Kieran Scott is a career coach and hiring expert with 12 years of experience in the industry.