Let’s Clean Up That Resume


How much can be written on the subject of resumes that hasn’t been covered before? Well, it doesn’t matter and that’s not the point I want to make today. What I do want to advise or remind you of are some of the most common mistakes I see with respect to resumes; mistakes that are made daily. I tell you up front that I’m picky when it comes to critiquing resumes and that’s a good thing if it helps you submit a document that’s error-free.

Let’s get right to it then. Get out your resume and pick up a pencil or pen. As I mention things to look for, note anything that needs attention on your document and then take the time to make the necessary revisions. Here we go….

Let’s start with what ends sentences; periods. These are not necessary at the end of each line that starts with a bullet. However, whether you use them or not, the one thing that is a definite no-no is to switch between sometimes using them and sometimes not. Be consistent. Personally, I remove them altogether. Not a big deal you say? Being inconsistent reveals poor attention to detail.

As for those bullets, make sure they are aligned throughout the resume and the best style to use is the round black dot. Why? Round black dots are sharp, crisp and don’t distract the reader’s eye from actual content. Forget the cute little scissors or the small hammer. Stand out for what you actually have to say, not your ability to click on a bullet.

Watch for that single letter, ‘s’ which can suggest to a trained resume reader that you did not in fact write your own resume. While this may in fact be the case, you don’t want to advertise this as it works against your intent to come across as authentic and genuine; capable of representing and marketing yourself. Add the letter, ‘s’ at the end of a word – typically at the start of a bullet, and the language switches from 1st person (you talking about you) to 3rd person (someone else talking about you). See the difference below:

  • Work well in teams
  • Works well in teams

The first bullet is in 1st person language; the word, ‘I’ is implied at the start. In the 2nd bullet, the word implied at the start switches to, ‘she’ or ‘he’ – as if someone else is talking about you. If you’ve had someone else actually craft your resume, they may have made this error themselves but it’s up to you to pick up on this.

The next thing to look out for is the use of italics. Yep, that entire previous sentence is in italics and this is used often to draw attention to something important. Unfortunately italics isn’t recognized and read by all ATS (Automated Tracking System) software. What it can’t recognize and read gets skipped therefore, and whatever you were drawing someone’s attention to just scored you a fat zero which could be the difference between getting your resume even viewed by human eyes.

As for fonts, stick with a uniform size 12 and I’d suggest using Arial. Look at almost any companies resume guidelines page and you’ll see that size 12 is the overwhelming favourite. It’s big enough to read comfortably yet small enough that you can get what you want to say nicely contained in a tight document. Please don’t vary your font size or styles throughout the resume. It’s hard on the eyes, and while you’ll definitely stand out if you do vary your font, it won’t be in a good way.

Another common mistake is to vary the size of the spaces on your resume. Look at yours now and see if you’ve got a uniform space after each heading on your resume. Some people will have a single space sometimes and a double space at others. Same goes for spaces after job titles and before your bullets associated with that job. In this case, remove the spaces and connect the two. This makes it easier for the reader to see what goes with what, especially when they are reviewing many resumes in addition to yours.

Please pay attention to your spelling and grammar. When proofreading your document, you may actually read what you intended to write rather than what you actually put down. For this reason, proofread very slowly; slower than you would normally read it. When you do this, you brain will pick up more mistakes, and it’s always a good idea to have someone else look over that resume before you send it away. You worked hard on it so take the extra few minutes to give it a real thorough check.

Finally, pick up your resume and look at it objectively. You know what job you are applying for and you know your strengths and what qualifies you, etc. However, look at your document as if you were unfamiliar with this person. Have you made it clear what job you are even applying for? Would you be hooked in the first 5 seconds and be motivated to read on?

Look if you’re going to do a resume, do it well. These are just some of the picky small things that could damage your presentation. The good news is they are quick fixes for the most part and easy to clean up. All the best when crafting yours!

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