Here is a list of the top five resume mistakes to avoid. Eliminating these commonly-made pitfalls from your resume will showcase your strengths, align your abilities with the position at hand, and offer prospective employers a polished, professional presentation that stands out from the vast sea of competition. Give this list a read, then print it to use as a simple checklist when writing your resume or reworking an existing resume you already have.
“Top Five Resume Mistakes to Avoid” Checklist:
- Indirect, Wordy, or Vague Objective at the Top: The objective is the first line of a resume, so it had better be sharp and effective. Pinpoint the objective to match the exact position you want; you can even take the extra effort to include the company name and change it with each application. Keep it brief and to the point, and don’t elaborate on your skills here. Objective example: “To obtain a position as a (exact job title here) with (exact company name here).”
- Personal Information: Stick to including only professional information that is related to the position to which you are applying. It is acceptable to put relevant volunteer positions, but do not put personal opinions or information about politics, sports, religion, or personal interests that can make you seem biased. Remain neutral and professional because you never know the viewpoints or inclinations of the person reviewing your resume.
- Generic Job Responsibilities and Assumed Information: Do not include assumed information, such as “Proficient at Microsoft Word,” “Experienced with Internet,” or “References Available upon Request.” When applying for a position in today’s competitive market, it is assumed that you have basic technological skills. However, if you have mastered specific industry software programs, train employees in technology implementation, or are advanced in information technology, it should be noted on your resume because it may set you ahead of the competition.
Also, resume entries should never list job responsibilities or daily duties that are typically executed by anyone operating in that job capacity. Be sure to use strong action verbs (such as executed, collaborated, achieved, and established) and showcase achievements, accomplishments, and specific projects. Use quantities, numbers, and measurable results. Example of what to avoid: “Responsible for filing and accounts payable”/ Example of what to include: “Collaborated with technology and customer service teams to develop and implement company-wide streamlined system for efficient filing and updating of information for over 3,000 clients, then trained 100 company employees in proper execution of new system.”
- Ineffective Resume Length: There really is no specific rule as to the exact length a resume should be; however, it should be in line with your career history and experience. For example, for a recent college graduate, a resume should be one page, but if you have been in your industry for 20 years, the resume should extend beyond one page. Too brief of a resume can run the risk of leaving out pertinent information that sets you above the competition, making you look inexperienced or “stuck” in your career without accomplishing much. In most cases, a resume should not be over two pages, but there are always exceptions. If you need more than one page to effectively present all of your relevant achievements, that is fine. Remember to stay focused, though, and avoid including any information unrelated to the position at hand.
- Errors in Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, and Format: Proofread and proofread again, then have someone else carefully review your resume to find typos, misspellings, and errors in punctuation and grammar. Make sure contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers are correct; one typo here and prospective employers will not be able to reach you. There is a wide variety of print and online materials available for checking grammar, usage, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. If in doubt, check it out. Also, look it over to ensure all spacing, bullet lists, and margins are properly formatted and consistent throughout the resume. My blogs under “Helpful Writing Tips” may be of assistance with proofreading.
Remember, All About Writing is here to help create an effective resume or curriculum vitae (CV) for your specific career needs. We also offer resume rewriting services if a decent, workable resume is already in place and just needs updates and improvements. We start off with a thorough resume questionnaire to make gathering the necessary information easy for the client to accomplish and extend a free, half-hour, in-person consultation to identify and address each client’s specific resume goals, objectives, and concerns.
Previous blogs by All About Writing under the category “Resume Tips” may be of assistance when writing your resume:
- “Choosing the Most Effective Resume Format: Chronological, Functional, or Combined”
- “The Difference Between a Resume and a CV”
- “Resume Tips: How to Successfully Present Your Resume”
- “Does My Resume Need a Cover Letter?”
- “Why Is It a Challenge to Write My Own Resume?”
- “Do I Need an Objective Line on My Resume?”
Learn more about All About Writing and owner Christa Riddle at www.allaboutwritingconsulting.com. Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away! Call us today to schedule your free consultation and get your project underway. We are here to assist with any phase of the project.
-by Christa Riddle