When it comes to your resume, it should be polished, well-presented and proofread. A resume riddled with mistakes can often be perceived as a reflection of yourself and your quality of work, leaving a bad taste in your recruiter’s mouth and prompting them to move onto the next candidate. However, even the most experienced professionals can find themselves guilty of resume mistakes — they’re only human. But knowing what to look out for while you’re updating your resume can save you a whole lot of trouble and magnify your chances of success.
1: Spelling and Grammatical Errors
Typos and grammatical errors are some of the most obvious and commonly seen resume mistakes. Your resume can give recruiters and hiring managers a clue as to how good your written communication skills are, so if you’re spelling words wrong and forgetting punctuation, they may come to some not-so-promising conclusions about you. Always ask a trusted friend or professional mentor to double check your resume for these mistakes, or use an online spellchecker tool to do it for you.
2: The One-Size-Fits-All Resume
When you come up with a generic resume to send to multiple job ads at the same time, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin without a second thought. Your lack of effort tells them, “I’m not particularly interested in your company. Frankly, any job will do.”
Employers want to feel special and want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organisation. Each time you apply for a job, you should tailor your resume to be relevant to that specific position. You have a better chance of getting an interview when you make it clear that you have the skills and experience that are required for the job.
3: Worrying About Length
Many people try to squeeze their resume into a single page because they've heard resumes should be shorter, not longer. But in doing so, candidates may exclude impressive achievements that would’ve set them apart from other applicants. Other job seekers might ramble on about irrelevant experiences and pointless information. Despite what you may have heard or read, there are no rules governing resume length.
Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is to limit your resume to two or three pages. But don't feel you have to use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don't remove chunks of information from your resume simply to make it conform to a one-page standard. When writing your resume, ask yourself, "Will this statement help me land an interview?" Every word should sell you, so include only the information that elicits a "yes."
4: Adding Too Many Bells and Whistles
If your resume is a wall of text featuring five different fonts on a colourful, patterned background, it will most likely give its reader a headache. To make sure your resume is neat but not overly decorated, show your resume to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, go back to the drawing board and come up with something that focuses less on aesthetics and more on showcasing the things that make you an excellent candidate.
5: Subpar Summaries
You’d be surprised how many candidates lose their readers at the very beginning: the career summary. Recruiters do read this portion of your resume, but will often disregard vague summaries such as “Ambitious professional seeking career growth." Statements like this are overused, too general, and a waste of valuable space.
Give employers something specific and, more importantly, something that focuses on their needs as well as your own. For example: "A results-oriented Project Manager with 5 years of experience covering project and product management, including developing, implementing and supporting complex infrastructures for fast growing startups”.
6: Outdated or Inappropriate Contact Information
It’s easy to overlook the importance of your contact information on your resume. After all, most people have the same phone number and email address for years at a time. However, it’s a mistake we see more often than you might think. Switching sim cards or moving to another city can cause your phone number to change, so remember to double check that the one you have listed on your resume is reachable, even if you’re sure it’s correct.
It’s not essential to include your residential address on your resume: it can easily be replaced by your postcode or city of residence, which will tell employers where you’re based, but protect your privacy.
When it comes to email addresses, be sure to use one that looks professional, and includes your full name or at least a variation of it. Your resume is not the place to include the email address you created when you were twelve years old to sign up for an Apple ID (I’m looking at you, firstname.lastname@example.org).
7: Overused Jargon
Using jargon or vocabulary that is repetitive can potentially detract from the information you are trying to describe. Stick with actionable words that can show employers what you mean, and avoid using cliche phrases and outdated vocabulary that may take away from the focus on how you can fit the job you are applying for.
It may not be in your best interest to include a photo of yourself on your resume, unless you’re hoping to land a role in acting or modelling. Not only will a photo take up space, but it also risks employers passing over your application so they can avoid the distraction of appearances. Recruiters may commonly bypass resumes with photos because they may not want to risk being interpreted as discriminating based on appearance. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to show off your winning smile at your interview.
Now that you know what to avoid when writing your resume, you can focus on what you should include! Read about what makes a great resume here: the 5 foundations of a fantastic resume
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