Have you ever worked on something important, felt it was perfect, submitted it with confidence and only then discovered you made some fatal error? Too late, you frantically search for some recall feature but alas, there’s none to be had!
Your resume could be just such a document. The only thing worse I suppose is being totally oblivious to your mistake(s) and continuing the practice of sending out flawed resumes. Yikes! Could this be why you’re getting very little or no positive results?
Having no way to provide feedback on your personal resume without seeing it, I’ve listed here some common mistakes I see on resumes. Check your own resume and see how you compare.
- You mistyped your email. Just last week I came across a resume with the word, ‘professional’ as part of the email but it was on the resume as, ‘professinal’. No one had caught it as they reviewed her resume, as the mind sees what it thinks rather than what the eyes see.
- Bullets don’t line up. Get out a ruler if it’s a hard copy or click and hold down the left mouse button on the ruler in MS Word to draw a straight line on your resume where your bullets are. Do they line up or are they off?
- Inconsistent use of periods. Look at the end of each line on your resume which starts with a bullet. Do you have periods at the end of some lines and not on others? Get in the habit of not using periods; period.
- Irregular capitalization. Nouns should be capitalized and so make sure any job title has a capital letter at the start of each word if there is more than one as in, ‘Customer Service Representative’.
- Dates don’t line up. Look at the dates on your resume. Are the dates all over the place or are they uniformly lined up on the extreme right where they should be? Lining these up makes it easier on the eyes; your resume is less cluttered.
- It’s all about you. If your resume starts off talking about what you want, stop! Employers want to know how you’ll benefit them, not the other way around. How is hiring you profitable?
- You added the dreaded, ‘s’. When you add a simple, ‘s’ to the end of a word, it can change the language from 1st to 3rd person. Suppose you communicate effectively as a skill. See how there is no, ‘s’ at the end of the word, ‘communicate’? That’s you talking about you. Add an, ‘s’ and it reads, “communicates well” and this is 3rd person; someone else talking about you. This suggests you didn’t write your own resume; someone else is talking about you. The entire resume now comes across as less than authentic.
- ‘Responsible for…”. Don’t start a line with, ‘Responsible for…”. Being responsible for something doesn’t indicate whether you are or were actually good at whatever you are referencing. It only indicates you are/were responsible for it. Maybe you actually performed terribly, but hey, you WERE responsible!
- Photo included. Get your photo off your resume and do it now! A growing number of people in Human Resources automatically dismiss resumes with photos included because they don’t want to expose themselves to claims of bias or personal attraction based on appearance.
- “References available upon request.” It’s a given that you’ll provide references when asked to do so. Including this on your resume is outdated.
- Repeating yourself. Look at the first words that begin your bullets. If you see the same word repeated, (sometimes even on consecutive lines) alter the words. It’s boring to read when you start multiple lines with the same words.
- Your qualifications don’t match. Job postings for the most part list desired qualifications. So pull one out that you applied to. Look at your resume and see if what they asked for was what you gave them. If yours don’t mirror the ad, no wonder you didn’t get an interview.
- Spelling errors. I get it. If spelling is an issue for you, it’s hard if not impossible to know when you make a mistake. Using a spelling and grammar check is good but a second pair of eyes is also recommended; as long as those eyes belong to someone with excellent spelling and attention to detail themselves.
- You included personal data. Get your age, sex, marital status, religion and nationality off your resume. By the way, is your age easily guessed in your email of all things? Yikes!
- You named your resume what? When you send your resume, people at the other end see what you called it as they move to open it. You didn’t call it, ‘My 2nd best resume’ did you? Someone I worked with did. Let’s go with a combination of job title and company name.
Okay 15 general tips for you to read over and more importantly use to improve your own resume. Maybe cleaning up your resume can be your goal for today. Resolving a job search barrier every day is a great way to feel you’re making positive moves to increase your odds of getting interviews and getting hired.
The biggest mistake of all continues to be mass producing a resume and handing it to many employers rather than targeting it to jobs you apply to. No matter how many times I say it, for some this comes as shocking.