Staying away from the most common resume mistakes
When you search for a job, your resume is the first impression that many potential employers have of you. Without an appealing resume that showcases your skills, you might as well give up your job search. According to Business News Daily, about 70% of employers say that resume mistakes can lead to rejections. Here are some of the most common resume mistakes people make and how to avoid them.
Spelling or grammatical errors
An error on your resume might make recruiters think you didn't take the time to proofread before submitting it. Read your resume carefully, and use a grammar-checking app like Grammarly to catch mistakes. It's also a good idea to get a friend, family member, or mentor to take a look at your resume. They may be able to catch any errors that you missed.
Overly elaborate formatting
Avoid using bright colors, elaborate fonts, or anything else that could distract from the content in your resume. Many employers use search algorithms to identify the best candidates by the keywords in their resumes. This makes having an easy-to-read, clear resume extremely important. When in doubt, stick with black ink and a basic font like Times New Roman or Arial. Choose a font size that's at least 10 to make it easily readable.
A resume that's too long or too short
In most cases, it's a good idea to keep your resume around one or two pages long. If it's too long, recruiters may not take the time needed to read all the way to the end. If it's too short, people could get the impression that you don't have the experience required for the position. If you're a new graduate or you have limited professional experience, consider listing your previous volunteer work or internships. You can also talk about your participation in honor societies, professional groups, and other organizations.
Including irrelevant experience
Many people are proud of their work histories, and you may feel tempted to mention every bit of your experience. However, cutting out anything irrelevant can make your resume seem more concise and make you seem more suited to a position. Most of the time, you should stick to the experience you gained within the last 15 years.
For example, someone applying for a position in upper management doesn't need to mention the job they started with in sales when they graduated from college. If they do decide to mention the job, they should highlight the leadership skills they used that are relevant to the job they currently want. Even jobs that appear unrelated can sometimes have some skills in common.
Without an appealing resume that showcases your skills, you might as well give up your job search.
Not enough or too many references
Many employers expect to see a reference section with two or three professional references to colleagues, mentors, or supervisors that you worked with in the past. Without this section, they might wonder if you can please the people you work for. Before you include anyone's name and contact information as a reference, ask their permission. Some people may be too busy to speak to potential employers or recruiters, and others may not be willing to give you a positive review.
Too many references can be as bad as too few. Don't include people you haven't worked professionally with, like friends or family members. Instead, choose people who have complimented your work in the past. If you're a new graduate, you can ask a former professor or a fellow student for references.
Using a generic resume
Before you apply for a job, look over your resume and think about how you can customize it for the position. When possible, use the same keywords that are in the job description. For example, if a job opening requests applicants with sales experience and a college degree, you can describe yourself as someone with 10 years of sales experience and a degree in business. If the company says it wants charismatic, friendly individuals, mention that you're charismatic and friendly.
Many businesses use keyword searches to find the most qualified individuals. Without the right keywords, an actual person might never get a chance to take a look at your resume.
Leaving out details
When you list each former job on your resume, include the month and year that you started and stopped working at the position. Only giving the year could seem like you're trying to cover up gaps in your work history. Instead of trying to hide any gaps, explain them. You can say that you were taking a short vacation, looking for work, or improving your education. When you mention each position, include three to five duties, responsibilities, or accomplishments. For example, you could talk about your high sales performance and your responsibility to train new salespeople.
No matter what field you work in, a good resume is important. It can give you a chance to impress a potential employer in person with an interview. To let more people see it, you can upload your resume to CareerBuilder.
Related reading: common resume mistakes
- You should showcase your experience without going too far in the past, and you can combine some similar positions for the sake of brevity.
- CareerBuilder's free tool can help you create an excellent resume.
- Here are some common terms you should avoid and keywords to include in your resume.
- You can also check out additional tips for creating an outstanding resume.
- Resume examples are available as well.