Your resume is your first formal introduction to potential employers. As such, it has to be flawless.
If this calling card has even one or two resume mistakes, hiring managers might not give your application a second glance — no matter how great your qualifications.
So how can you make sure your application doesn’t go speeding toward the bin or delete key? Here are seven resume mistakes to avoid, along with some career advice to help you stand out among the crowd and land you your dream job.
1. Grammatical errors
Typos, misused words and careless spelling spell trouble for your job search. Grammatical mistakes in your resume make you look sloppy and negligent. Don’t rely on spell and grammar checkers; they won’t catch extra or missing words, the wrong word choice, or if you wrote “where” when you meant “were.”
To make sure you catch all the errors, print out your resume and read it out loud. Then have a language-savvy friend or family member proofread it too.
2. Focus on job duties
Employers are interested in more than just your past job titles and dates of employment. They also want to know what you accomplished. Including generic job duties such as “did administrative work” can make you look like a generic candidate. Instead, give potential employers a good idea of the results you could bring to their company.
They want to know how you helped previous employers increase profits, save time or money, do business more efficiently, solve a specific problem, grow its customer base or boost market share. It is important to explain how the positions you've held - whether permanent or temporary - have boosted your skill set and aided your career development.
3. Using one resume for every position
Employers are looking for the right fit for a particular job, which is why your resume should be tailored to that position. Using the same document for different job openings is not as horrible as grammatical mistakes, but tweaking your resume for each position will make your application stand out among those of applicants who don’t bother.
One easy way to catch hiring managers’ eyes is to use some variation of the language from the job description in your resume — as long as it accurately describes your abilities.
4. A too-short resume
If you’ve read any sort of resume tips, you’ve probably heard the one about making everything fit on a single page. Yes, managers don’t have time to wade through a multi-pager, especially if it’s padded with nonessentials. But the goal of your resume is to give an accurate summary of your experience, education, accomplishments and skill set, so it’s not a crime to go longer.
Employers are increasingly open to longer resume. So, if yours fills a page, great. If you go to one and a half or two pages, that’s okay too. If you’re just starting out and don’t have much work history, you can still avoid a too-short resume if you add in internships, relevant volunteer activity and college awards.
5. Amateurish layout
Take a good look at your resume: Did you use several quirky fonts (no Comic Sans or Marker Felt, please!) or a classy one like Calibri or Times New Roman? Are the sections jagged or lined up neatly? Do you have broad swaths of dense text, or did you make your resume easy to read with the judicious usage of columns, bold fonts, bullet points and white space?
Presentation makes a difference. No matter how professionally you conduct yourself in person, your resume will not receive serious consideration if it’s difficult to read.
6. Incorrect contact information
Check and double-check your email address and phone numbers. This is one of the easiest places to make a small typo that can make it almost impossible for potential employers to reach you.
7. Irrelevant information
Under “Other Information,” you listed how you love puppies, enjoy gardening, play cricket on weekends and belong to a Dungeons & Dragon group. Take those out. Personal trivia, irrelevant information and odd memberships do not belong on a professional resume.
Another no-no is anything controversial, such as political or religious affiliations. However, do include pertinent details such as foreign languages, volunteer activity related to your field, software you know and work-related honours.
Once you’ve cleaned up your document with these resume tips, you’re ready to begin your job search!