January 31, 2013
Writing a resume may not be the most exciting document you will ever produce, but it could be one of the most important. It is your opportunity to introduce yourself to a prospective employer and demonstrate why you would be the ideal candidate to help the employer solve a problem by filling a need.
To present yourself in the best possible light, you will want to avoid the top 20 resume writing mistakes listed here.
1. No clear objective statement
Tell the employer exactly what kind of job you are looking for by using a specific category or job title. Don’t make the hiring manager guess at what you mean.
2. Not specific to the position you are applying for
The days of sending out general resumes are gone. The resume should be written so that it clearly indicates how your skills and abilities fit the position the employer is looking to fill.
3. Resume is not well organized
Make sure your resume contains the information that is most important to the reader set out front and center. Job titles should take precedence over dates. Unless you are a new grad, focus on writing your work experience first.
4. Failure to showcase your most important skills
A hiring manager may only have time to skim over your resume before making a decision about whether to discard it or put in the pile of candidates who warrant further consideration. Don’t make him or her hunt for the details about what makes you special.
5. Taking up too much space writing about old jobs
If you worked somewhere 15 years ago, the experience may not be relevant for a position you are applying for today.
6. Boring, cookie cutter template
While you shouldn’t make your resume “out there,” you can put a bit of imagination into it to make it your own.
7. Writing with typos and grammatical errors
Your resumes should be letter perfect before you submit it to a potential employer. Make a point of going over it several times before you apply for any jobs. It may be helpful to have a friend review it as well.
8. Fails to focus on accomplishments
The resume should focus on the results you were able to achieve for your employer instead of your job description. Include examples of how you were able to help the company increase revenue or save money, save time, or increase its customer base if you want to impress a potential employer.
9. Writing a resume that does not include keywords
A number of employers will use an electronic database to store applicants’ resumes. Including keywords in your resume increases the likelihood yours will come up in a search when the hiring manager is ready to search for candidates for a particular position.
10. Including a photograph or your birth date
This type of personal information should not be included on your resume. Employers cannot discriminate against you based on your age or ethnic background. This information would be apparent if you included a head shot or shared your date of birth.
11. Limiting the resume to a single page
People who have been working for a few years (or longer) should have enough work history to fill more than one page of a resume. Two pages is standard for someone who has been working for over five years.
12. Listing distracting facts that don’t have anything to do with the job
You can list awards you have won on your resume, but make sure they will present you as a stellar candidate. If they don’t relate the to job you are applying for, you are probably best to leave them off the resume.
13. Choosing an unbusinesslike font
Keep the look for your resume clear and concise. This not the place to get artistic, unless you are applying for a position with a graphic design firm. You want to present yourself as a serious candidate for a position with a company. Stick to basic fonts only.
14. Listing an inappropriate e-mail address
Your firstname.lastname@example.org is always an appropriate choice. Cutesy names are not a good choice when you are looking for a job.
15. Writing about hobbies and extracurricular activities
A prospective employer may not be interested in what you do outside of work. Depending on how you like to spend your time, you also run the risk of offending the hiring manager before you get a chance at an interview.
16. Listing your high school on your resume
Unless you are still in high school, you probably shouldn’t include this information. List where you went to college or any vocational training you completed, though.
17. Leaving lots of blank space on your resume.
Fill in the blanks with volunteer work or leadership positions you have held if you are looking for a first job. Don’t submit one that only lists your education and employment objective.
18. Inaccuracies in job titles and other details
Before you submit your resume, make sure that the details match your LinkedIn profile and your past employer’s job titles, etc.
19. Not customizing your resume for the position
Sending a generic resume will not impress a hiring manager. Take the time to customize it and make it fit the position you are applying for.
20. Using a big font
This makes it look like you are shouting at the reader. Stick to a normal size font in your writing and focus on filling the page with great content about what makes you a stellar candidate instead.
Justin Maynard is a university professor and freelance essay writing specialist at Writemyessay4me.