Over the course of my career in Corporate America, I had to have a solid resume each time I changed jobs-which seemed to be every 18 months! I got pretty good at writing how my experiences were a perfect fit for the role. On the flip side, I also hired a lot of great people. And during the long process of finding that amazing new hire, I saw many resumes that were good. More often than not I would always have a few that were ‘not up to par’. Even if the person was a great fit-having a less than stellar resume didn’t get them very far in the process. Sometimes it was simple mistakes.
Your resume is your first impression to a recruiter, human resource professional or hiring manager. Mistakes can take you from an interesting candidate to a non-existent candidate getting thrown out before they can see how amazing you are.
In all my years as a hiring manager and career coach, there are a few things I have seen as consistent mistakes. I have highlighted FOUR. All it takes in one mistake….isn’t that the saying?
A Book of Experience.
Many times, I see three to four page resumes. The best approach is that if you have over 8 years’ experience, you should have a 2 page resume (front and back or two pages stapled). Less than 8 years, one page is adequate. In my career management workshops, this is the toughest one for people to get over. We all want to shout to the world how great we are right?
Your resume is a highlight of who you are – your summary section demonstrates your brand statement and skills that support the role you are applying for- and your accomplishments that back it up. Too many times I see people list their job duties. A hiring manager doesn’t care that you were responsible for pulling up a monthly report. They want to know how you are going to come in and be a rock star because you have proven you have done it before.
The main purpose of the resume is to get them to say “I want to talk to that person more” and get you an interview where you can spend the time going into the depths of your experience. So, pick your best accomplishments and shorten that resume. (Know where to find those great accomplishments? Start with performance reviews-where else are you expected to talk about the great things you did over time!)
Seems obvious right? Unfortunately it happens often. You spend a lot of time working on your resume. Crafting the right accomplishment statements and nailing down the perfect brand statement. It isn’t until you hand over your resume to a potential hiring manager that you notice it. The typo. How could you let that it happen?
The fact is the more you spend time looking at your resume, the easier it is to skim over that dreaded typo that spell check didn’t catch. It doesn’t know you meant to say ‘Their’ vs ‘There’.
How can you prevent this? Find someone else to read your resume. Heck, find two. The more eyes on your resume, the more confident you can be that it’s right. Also, try reading your resume from bottom to top. Changing how you approach your own proofing can help.
It’s great to show uniqueness in how you approach your work but a resume is not the place to do this. A recruiter or hiring manager spends less than 30 seconds looking at your resume to determine if they are going to spend more time looking at the content.
Keep your formatting consistent. Use fourteen point font for company name. At least 12 point font for job titles and eleven point font for your accomplishments. Keep you margins at an inch. Same spacing between paragraphs. No borders at all. And as much as you may not want to, remove any italics from your resume.
Crisp and clean resumes are the way to go. Show your creativity in the interview when you can bring supplemental documents to showcase your work.
Fabricated Truths (misrepresentation).
We all know lying is bad. Our parents taught us this. It’s easy to misrepresent on your resume. Nobody will know right? I cannot stress this enough – It is NEVER okay to tell a little white lie. NEVER. It’s also not worth it. If you saved your company 100k on a project. Say it. Don’t tell them you saved 1M. If you have completed only 3 years of college, don’t tell them you graduated. Things can be validated. Information can be checked. People talk. Be honest. That’s all. It’s not worth losing a great opportunity by fabricating the work you did. Ever. Okay, I won’t beat that one anymore.
Some other things to remember-keep acronyms to a minimum and don’t use any personal pronouns.
Hopefully these are helpful tips. Avoiding these simple mistakes will help your resume get noticed!
For more outrageous and crazy resume mistakes, check out the 2013 Career Builders study of Common and Not-So-Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job. Find interesting things like how someone listed on their resume their objective was “To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI’s like my current employer”. I am not easily surprised these days…but that one threw me for a loop.
To your development, growth and amazing potential,