The best thing your resume can do is stand out and make an impression. There’s just one caveat, it should be a positive impression. Unfortunately, there are plenty of all-too-common resume mistakes which make HRs and recruiters remember you as that person they don’t want to hire.
So here are 10 easily avoided mistakes you need to know about before you apply to your next job.
1. Cliches and overused words
If you’re writing your resume on autopilot (and let’s face it, lots of us are), it’s easy to slip into the habit of relying on cliches and passive voice. The problem with this is that at best it’ll get your resume ignored and at worst it’ll give the reader a big eye-roll. Needless to say, it’s not how you land an interview.
Then there’s the related mistake of vague wording. When you’re describing accomplishments, you need to be specific! So choose your words carefully and listen to Jefferson’s wise words:
”The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
Be creative and attract the reader’s attention with words and phrases that sizzle and are straight to the point. Enhancv’s new feature – Content Analyzer can help you with that.
2. Typographical errors
This may seem obvious but you would be shocked how often these kinds of simple resume mistakes make it to a recruiter’s desk. There’s simply no excuse for sloppiness, misused words, incorrect spelling, or punctuation overuse on your resume. These kinds of mistakes will get your resume tossed straight into the reject pile.
How do you catch these simple but easily missed resume mistakes? After you finish with your resume, sleep on it and take your mind off it. Then give it a look with fresh eyes. A technique I use sometimes is reading all the content backwards, which forces you to slow down and catch more mistakes.
Then, just to be safe, let a trusted friend look at it. Obviously a spell-checker should factor in as well. Once you’ve done all this, you can send your resume off with confidence.
3. Made-up information
Did you really spend 6 months as an intern in that company? Are you sure you speak 6 languages? Did you increase that Twitter account by 6,000 followers in just a month? If your answer to questions like this is “well, basically” then you need to reconsider.
In short, all the information you provide must be 100% true. Remember that in today’s world, recruiters can verify most details within a few clicks and phone calls.
In any case, the greatest asset you have in an interview is confidence. Knowing that you weren’t quite truthful on your resume is a sure-fire way to take that confidence and replace it with guilt and paranoia: not exactly a recipe for success. So stick to the truth and be proud of it.
4. Responsibilities VS Accomplishments
This is one area where resumes are changing in 2018. Just a few years ago this wasn’t a very common practice, but today it’s absolutely expected that you list accomplishments and not just responsibilities on your resume.
Ultimately, it’s your accomplishments that make you stand out from all the other applicants and it’s accomplishments that will make you feel proud walking into that interview. Also make sure you quantify these accomplishments whenever possible, specifics always have greater impact.
5. Not tailored for the job
Before crafting a resume, one of your first steps should be reading through the job requirements carefully. Pay close attention to the keywords they use and get the grip of who they’re actually looking for.
The second step should be going through their company website, social media profiles, blog, and anywhere else they’re active. What’s their company culture? What kind of people work there? Would you fit in the team? All this information will give you a head start and provide clues for your resume design, content, and overall feeling. Make it specific to the company and the job requirements.
”Identify the common keywords, terminology, and key phrases that routinely pop up in the job descriptions of your target company.” (Amanda Augustine, career expert)
Ultimately, you want the recruiter to see your resume and get the feeling that you’re their ideal candidate. By using the same words they use, reflecting their culture and values, etc. you do just that.
6. Irrelevant experience
Don’t ever submit a resume that’s out of date. Your resume should be up to date with relevant information at all times. Consider leaving out that summer job you did 10 years ago. Unless you achieved something significant and relevant to the job position you’re applying for, it’s just a distraction. A rule of thumb I like to use is to look at every piece of information on my resume and ask myself whether it makes the resume more effective. If it doesn’t add any value, I cut it.
The experience content of your resume should exponentially progress with you.
7. Format inconsistency
Employers might require your resume to be in a certain format depending on their company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS). However, unless the company has specific instructions, the safest way to send your resume is as a PDF. The main reason being that a PDF doesn’t change depending on the computer’s operating system. If you send a .docx file created in OpenOffice and it gets opened in Microsoft Word, it might look like a real mess.
Also, make sure your resume doesn’t get out of hand by using a number of different fonts, graphs, and neon colors. Keep it neat, clean and easy to read.
Here is an example of a good format:
8. Paid VS Unpaid work experience
Another mistake that appears on resumes is the fact that people believe that the only experience that counts is paid experience. But this massively reduces the ways in which you can show off your skills and accomplishments.
Think about the volunteering, that old car you restored, a disease you overcame, or how you learned how to sew and make your own clothes. In other words, what makes you proud and shows your skills? These don’t necessarily have to be connected to your job title. It can be one of the most striking sections on a resume, as long as you back it up with concrete facts, numbers and figures. Plus, experience like this can be a great conversation starter in an interview.
9. Afraid to show your personality
People are still worried to show their personality in a resume. They think it’s somewhat childish and unprofessional. They believe that this type of information is supposed to be written in a cover letter. But do employers read cover letters anymore? It’s 2018 and resumes have changed.
Company Culture, the personality of a company, is being taken more and more seriously as a way to brand a company and keep its employees happy. For employers, one of the ways to create a good company culture is to hire people that are similar or have similar interests. That’s why they need to see more personality revealing sections in your resume. Make their job easier and present your charming self.
Enhancv is the only resume builder out there offering a big variety of human-centric sections. Try them out, it got Sam a job in Spotify.
”What kind of stuff are you working on in your free time? I am always inspired by this. It also shows me that you have the passion for your field beyond your nine-to-five.” (Ambra Benjamin, engineering recruiter at Facebook)
10. Crafting only one resume
Forget your one size fits all mindset, because resumes in 2018 need to be tailored for the specific job. A small startup and IBM certainly don’t hire the same way, so you shouldn’t apply to them the same way. So use the other tips mentioned above to craft your resume for each position you’re applying for.
Now you’re confident, ready to stand out and land that job!
Crafting am outstanding resume isn’t an easy job. Sometimes, we need just a little push, a reminder of what’s important to add or leave out.
If you haven’t yet, try Enhancv’s newest Content Analyzer feature. It was developed after reviewing over 300,000 resumes to help you improve your content and make the most out of any job opportunity.
Go ahead and craft your resume with Enhancv now.
*note, the original version of this article was posted in January, 2017