Over the years I have screened and evaluated so many resumes that, quite frankly, I lost count a long time ago. What I do remember is the kinds of mistakes and missteps jobseekers would make over and over. Even with all of the resume writing services and advice out there, I was still seeing these huge errors. When potential clients bring their resume to me and ask me to review them, I often find myself seeing some or all of the issues I’ve listed below and what baffles me even more is how easily avoidable they are.
While this list doesn’t contain an exhaustive list of every mistake a jobseeker can make, it does shed some light on some of the most common. With the help of a good resume writer, preferably one with a strong recruitment background, these can all be fixed or avoided altogether.
1. Using an Objective
Once upon a time, it was mandatory that a resume carry an objective however these aren’t as useful as they once were. In today’s job market, these can do more harm than good. If you use a specific objective, it may pigeonhole you. If you attempt to broaden your search by using a vague objective such as “Seeking a position that will help me to utilize my skills and contribute to the growth of an organization… blah blah blah” you will come across as directionless. Employers will think you’re just desperate for a job and a paycheck. You will stand out for all the wrong reasons.
Consider replacing the objective with a skills summary. This highlights your best attributes and is a great way to sell yourself to any potential employer.
2. Bad Grammar and Typos
This is one of the worst yet most common mistakes I see in resumes. Most of these grammar and spelling errors can be caught using spellcheck or one of the online grammar and spelling checkers so please use them! Remember that your resume is your introduction to a potential employer. It’s your first impression. If you’re showing weaknesses this early in the process, I can guarantee you that you will not be invited to interview. You want to be recognized for your strengths and don’t want your skills to be overshadowed by typos or bad grammar on your resume.
3. Lack of Consistency
I cannot begin to tell you how many resumes I’ve seen with varied font choices, bullets and formatting. The first portion of the document may have round bullets with a Times New Roman, size 12 font with single spacing while the second portion may have square bullets, an Ariel size 11 font and double spacing. Consistency is key in your resume or any document. Choose one font size, one font type, be consistent with your spacing throughout the document and make sure you’re using the same size on like verbiage.
4. List of Duties
This is certainly one of the most common mistakes one can make on a resume. You must understand that the job market is extremely competitive and you are not the only one managing those responsibilities. Chances are, anyone with your title is managing the exact same duties so you have to stand out. You do this by focusing on your accomplishments and not just your duties. Focus on what you brought to the table outside of your job description. Highlight your accomplishments! How did you save the organization’s resources? How exactly were you an asset to your team and in turn the organization? Your resume should at least begin to answer these questions for the manager or recruiter reading it for the first time. If it doesn’t, it will look as if there is no reason to spend time interviewing you. You need to make an employer or recruiter want to interview you and simply listing your duties or responsibilities alone will not accomplish that.
5. Selling yourself short
This is probably the BIGGEST mistake I see so many jobseekers making. They have all of this fantastic knowledge, skills and abilities yet they fail to include them on their resumes. This is a huge no-no! Remember, you’re selling yourself here so you need to put your best foot forward. That project you worked on or led needs to be on your resume. That award or recognition you received needs to be on your resume. That certification, freelance opportunity and leadership position ALL need to be on your resume! Don’t sell yourself short by thinking little of your accomplishments. You’ve done so much yet your resume contains so little. This is NOT good. Don’t make it easy on your competition by leaving out critical details and experience.
I certainly hope this small list helps you make some big changes to your resumes. I know I’ve certainly been able to use them to help my clients. Remember, if you find it a challenge to actually apply these principals, reach out to a professional. That’s what we’re here for!
Best of luck!