Writing A Killer Resume – 14 Resume Mistakes To Avoid In 2020

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Writing A Killer Resume – 14 Resume Mistakes To Avoid In 2020

December 16, 2019

You’ve probably heard a lot of advice – from friends, family, professors and recruiters – about how your resume should read. While hiring managers will have their own preferences, there are some things you should avoid at all costs. Below is a list of common resume mistakes.

1. Keeping it to one page when you have more to say. 

Somewhere along the way, the myth about keeping your resume to one page spread like wildfire. Maybe it was when electronic transmission of resumes wasn’t commonplace. Either way, if your relevant work experience takes more than one page, use two. According to CareerBuilder data, 66 percent of employers said a new college graduate’s resume should be one page, and 77 percent of employers expect a seasoned worker’s resume to be at least two pages. Reconsider “creative” methods for squeezing your resume on one page, like making type too small or margins too narrow. You should use enough space to get your message across clearly.

2. Writing lengthy paragraphs to describe your job duties.

The resume isn’t necessarily the place to showcase your writing abilities (the cover letter would be better) – use the space on your resume efficiently. Opt for bullets over long-winded paragraphs. And each bullet should make a meaningful impact on its own.

3. Putting your oldest job at the top.

Don’t put your job from a decade ago as the first entry of work experience on your resume. Use reverse chronological order instead. You want the hiring manager to know where you’re working now or most recently. Also, unless it adds value because of similar duties or it was with a high-visibility company, don’t include a job on your resume from more than 10 years ago. And, even if it’s a recent job, if it’s not relevant to what you’re applying for now, nix it.

4. Putting no thought into formatting.

You don’t need the fanciest resume on the planet, but don’t just throw a bunch of words on the page. Outdated or decorative fonts are a turnoff to hiring managers simply because they aren’t easy on the eyes. Make an effort to differentiate sections with headers, different fonts sizes and bolding to establish a hierarchy. And, as stated previously, use bullets to make the resume easily scannable.

5. Leaving off keywords.

OK, you don’t want your entire resume to sound like a compilation of buzzwords, but it’s important to include keywords that are relevant to the position. This is because talent acquisition software is often doing the first screening of your resume. You don’t want to be passed over because you failed to include an important word.

6. Listing everything you can do on a computer as “skills.”

Depending on the job, you’ll know what skills you need to list (i.e., for most jobs, you’ll be expected to operate in Microsoft Outlook and Word, so it’s not necessary to list). And some recruitment professionals say a “skills” section is not needed. Instead, incorporate your capabilities into your professional summary at the top of your resume. And you can incorporate technical aptitudes that pertained to specific jobs within your descriptions of those roles.

7. Focusing on duties rather than performance.

Hiring managers want to see what kind of an impact you made at each of your previous jobs. In fact, the first few bullets of each job entry should include performance-related information and not duties. Especially in careers for which high performance is of utmost importance (like sales, marketing and finance), results are expected to be present. You need evidence that you’re as great as you’re saying you are. Facts go further than opinions.

8. Leaving in typos or grammatical errors.

I shouldn’t have to say this… proofread, proofread and proofread it one more time. Even worse than a typo on a resume is information that is incorrect, like wrong employment dates or an outdated phone number. If you think you looked over your resume too many times, read through it once more. Asking a friend or family member to review your resume can help as well.

9. Being too general or vague.

Take your time in compiling the responsibilities for each of your experiences, and dig deep. Every line you include should add value. Be specific. And customize your resume by making parallels to what you did at your other jobs to this prospective gig. No two roles are the same, so don’t submit the same resume. It will lead to neither of them calling you.

10. Leaving out social media links.

There are a couple things to consider here. One, the hiring manager is going to look at your social media profiles anyway, especially LinkedIn. So, you may as well make it easy for them (and ensure they don’t mistake someone else for you). Two, use the links to your advantage by showing how active you are in industry discussions. The premise behind this is that you can include professional information, like links to published works, through your social media profiles. It demonstrates the level of involvement in your career. Don’t, however, include a link to your private accounts that you only use to keep in touch with friends and family.

11. Bringing unnecessary attention to gaps in your resume.

It’s not necessary to add a line that points out why you took a break from work. Trust me, the interviewer will ask you if they’re concerned. To bridge the gap, do those dates appear somewhere else on the resume, like in the volunteerism or education section? Consider adding the years in the relevant areas of your resume so it shows you were actively pursuing something else at the time.

12. Stating an “objective” at the top of your resume.

If you’re submitting your cover letter and resume for a job as an administrative assistant, it’s obvious what your objective is. This is elementary advice that doesn’t add value in the professional realm. Instead, craft a professional summary that touches on your strengths and results and put it at the top of the resume so it’s the first thing hiring managers see.

13. Saying “references are available upon request.”

It’s just not necessary. The real estate on your resume is precious and everything contained within should be impactful. At a certain stage in the hiring process, you should expect employers to ask for references and employers expect that you’ll be able to provide a few. Just be ready with the information when they ask.

14. Forgetting contact information.

Include the specifics for every method of contacting you: phone, email, address and social media. Don’t include contact information that is tied to your current position, like a work email. And make sure the email address you do provide is professional (not a fun one you made in college for your friends to reach you). Adding your home address is debatable among professionals but listing a city and state should be acceptable in most situations. Don’t bother using the words “address,” “phone,” and “email” to introduce the contact information; the hiring manager can tell whether it’s a phone number or email.


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