What Your Resume Reveals About You

Ah once again, another look at the resume. There are so many articles on the internet about how to make a resume that gets results one would think there is nothing new to say. The truth is however, that there is a constant influx of people looking at making a resume for the first time, as well as people who are just plain ignorant of the problems in their existing resumes, that the topic can be talked about for a long time yet.

I’m going to share some unflattering things that your resume actually reveals about you in this blog. Those reading resumes and making decisions on whom to invite for interviews don’t worry about hurting the feelings of the person behind the resume submitted. They after all, are trying to hire the right people for the companies they represent. Who doesn’t get to the interview stage is of zero interest to them.

As you read the points I’m going to make, remember one basic truth; your resume is your personal marketing document. Anyone who reads it assumes it represents you at your best; that the words you’ve elected to use are well-considered. As this document is the first thing an employer sees from you it represents the best you’re capable of when it comes to your ability to express yourself. If you make mistakes on it therefore, the chances of you making the same kind of errors when working for a company increase dramatically, so it should be error-free.

Spelling mistakes are seldom forgivable. I say seldom instead of never, because there are some jobs where a person will only be required to use their hands and their head, never having to communicate anything in writing. Poor spelling might suggest you have a poor education. In North America, grade 12 is often the minimal educational requirement. You can get a job of course with less, but you’ll find you’re limited in terms of advancement without upgrading. Spelling errors of common words could also reveal a learning disability.

If you are applying for a job where your work goes external, it is critical that you have zero spelling mistakes. Your work will be part of the company image projecting forward, and no company sets off on a mission to promote themselves with spelling errors, as it sends the wrong message to clients and possible consumers.

Where you’ve included your phone number on your resume, have you actually inserted just before it the word, “Phone”? Believe me when I tell you that people reviewing resumes can identify a phone number or an email for that matter without you needing to put the words, “Phone” or “Email” first. Using the same logic, would you put the word, “Name” before yours? Of course not.

A regular thing I’ve picked up is talking about yourself in the third person. When you do this, it sends a message to the interviewer that the resume before them was not created by the person named at the top. That could lower your credibility. If for example a bullet of yours starts off, “Possesses organizational skills”, it’s as if someone else is talking about you. You can almost hear the word, “She”, or “He” before the first word in the sentence. If you were talking about yourself in the first person you’d say, “Possess organizational skills”. What’s inferred but not stated is the word, “I”. First person is correct, third person is not.

Building on the previous point, it is also a general practice to avoid the use of the word, “I” entirely on the resume. This differs on a social media platform such as LinkedIn, where your profile can make use of this word.

Now to tenses; past, present and future. I’ve witnessed this glaring mistake on resumes from some very well-educated people. If you yourself find the point I’m about to make obvious and somewhat offensive, realize that there are many out there for whom this will come as new information and not something they were aware of. Is the example that follows, something that has happened in the past or the present?
ex. “Supervise six employees.”

Without the addition of the letter, ‘d’ the word, “Supervise” is present tense; something you currently do. Add the, ‘d’ and it becomes, “Supervised” and refers to something you have done in the past. The problem comes when the word you may be using is present tense, such as, “Supervise”, but the dates connected with the line on your resume are in the past. In other words, the dates are in the past but the words you are using are in the present. Employers I speak with have told me this tells them that the person may 1) not have the intelligence to know the difference, 2) Notices but can’t be bothered to fix it or 3) may have literacy issues. Past jobs use past tense, current jobs use current tense.

Finally, check all your bullets. Are you putting periods at the end of some lines and none on others? This inconsistent use of periods might reveal a lack of attention to detail. If you are going for an Administrative job, you’ll be counted on to catch these things in the work of others, and yours therefore needs to be free of such mistakes.

Check out your own document for these mistakes. The good news is they are easily fixed.


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