Are you looking for a job? Are you spending hours researching jobs, completing online applications and doing all the research on great companies but get nothing in return? You are doing everything right, but seems struggle to get called for the interviews, the post is for you.
The post will focus on some of the major Resume Mistakes I made in the past and how you can avoid them. I will also provide tips and resources to build a great resume in no time, on your own!
What is а Resume?
A resume is a primary marketing tool that allows you to sell your skills, experience and most important accomplishments to make it easy for your new employer to see how you will add value in the company. You may think, as I did, that resume is stupid and redundant since you are asked to type all the same information in your online application. Well, yes and no.
First, let`s remember resume is by far the fastest, the easiest and the most professional way to showcase that you are a fantastic candidate. It is a commercial, short, sweet and sexy.
Second, many of us, myself included have a real hard time to tell our own story, so writing our own story becomes this excruciating and very labor-intensive experience. I get it. It is not easy! However, it is worth it.
Lastly, while you embark on the adventure of creating your first or re-inventing your old resume, let`s focus on critical mistakes and significantly improve your chances to be selected for a job interview.
Mistake 1: Poor formatting, presentation
Visually pleasing resumes win the race. Clean, concise, with lots of space formats, are better than busy pages.
We all subconsciously gravitate to all things beautiful. I do have to admit that my first attempt to create a resume was anything but beautiful. It was a hot mess, and I called it my “Frankenstein” resume since it was a mosaic of my writing, other people`s resumes and pieces of job descriptions. I must admit it was a scary looking thing, and yes, you guessed it, I did not get interviews with it.
- Download MS Office 2017 software, it comes with preloaded Resume samples on it
- Check out free Resume Templates here:
- Keep things simple, as simple as possible, avoid clutter, different fonts, different font sizes
Mistake 2: Duties vs. accomplishments focused
This is one of the most common things I see on many resumes. We are amazing at telling what we did for the company, but we struggle with telling our story. The story an employer wants to hear can be contained in two words: measurable accomplishments.
- Ok: As a sales associate I assisted customers with a speedy and accurate checkout
- Better: Was nominated as an Express Cashier for beating store record by 7% in 2017 for checkout speed and accuracy.
- Think about specific things that you are very proud of accomplishing at the job
- Use percentages, dollars, and numbers as much as you can, avoid using adjectives to describe outcomes (better, easier, faster, etc) unless can be measured
Mistake 3: Typos, grammatical errors
For most of us, English is not the first language; for me, personally, it is forth. When my spouse checked my resume and marked it in 15 places, I got offended because I felt he was picking on me. He was not. The reality is, unless you are a native English speaker, you will not be able to sense or see the errors that other native speakers can detect easily. I struggled and still struggle with this one myself.
What you need to understand that any typos, errors, misused, misspelled words and such will automatically discredit you as a professional. You can be brilliant at what you do, but if you can not write about it, your resume is going into the recycle bin.
- Please read my post about English
- Download Grammarly today, yes get a free version first. Better yet, get an upgraded version and save yourself a lot of embarrassment and wasted time. I bought it, use it and love it!
- Before you send your basic resume out, send it to 2-3 native American English-speaking friends for a review
Mistake 4: Generic, missing job description keywords
After you spend countless hours creating your basic resume you may think your work is done. Sorry, not even close. The next step is to take your job description and highlight all keywords in skills/requirements section that appears more than one time. The employer will scan your resume for the use of specific words. If your resume does not contain the words, you will not be called.
- Check out JobScan free tool to see if your resume and job description is a good match
- Try TagCrowd to identify the most frequently used words on a job description
Mistake 5: Unexplained employment gaps
Nothing scares employers more than missing information and unexplained gaps in employment. Be honest about your shortcomings. For example, when I arrived for almost ten months, I was waiting for my work permit and then apply for jobs. When I was asked why I have a year gap on my resume, I explained my situation. The employer did not mind, but being prepared helped me to have a one sentence answer. Layoff, maternity leave, immigration, etc can create gaps, be ready to address them, better yet include them on your resume to avoid the raised eyebrows and missed job opportunities.
- List years and drop months on your resume
- Create a brief entry if the gap is more than a few months
- Be prepared to explain how you grew during that time and the types of skills you acquired
- Consolidate multiple entries, for example, I have “ various retail roles” for all four years of college part-time retails jobs. When the employer asks, I explained, my goal was to graduate with no student loans, so I worked part-time, took random jobs that worked for my class schedule.
Mistake 6: Wrong resume length
The agreed-upon length is 1-2 pages. I would not recommend getting to a 3rd page unless it is an Appendix containing your references for example. Of course, as more experienced professionals, it might be very challenging to squeeze, for example, 23 years of my work into two pages. The good news, it is a common practice you do not list any more than ten years of your work experience, 15 max.
- Stick with two pages at most
- Select the format that makes more sense: chronological functional resume
- When in doubt ask a professional college career counselor to review your draft
Mistake 7: No action verbs
Certain words carry a punch. There are other words that just merely describe something average. Your job is to make your resume and your work sound like a masterpiece. What are the action verbs? It is words describing in a very professional way your job duties and accomplishments. When employers read action-verbs resumes that get a feeling that you are an active participant in companies future, you get things done, and you’re a great candidate for a job.
- Download/print a great Action Verb List
- Review your resume, replace weak words with action-packed words that will get your resume noticed
Mistake 8: Unprofessional email address
Maybe this sounds too basic, but having a professional email address to replace your old personal address is a must. There is no doubt in my mind that employer will think twice about contacting you at a wonky email address you have used for personal correspondence.
- Bad email addresses to include on your resume:
- Great email addresses for your resume:
- First name.last email@example.com
- It is free, and it will take one second: create your free professional Gmail account now
- Avoid numbers, birth dates, etc on your email account address
- Check and re-check that all your contact information listed on your resume is correct
You got this one. I do not doubt in my mind that you are on your way to success. Now it is time to ACT. Check your resume for the typical resume mistakes and avoid them. They might just cost you a job! My resume took me years to perfect, and I have about 20 versions of it and still not 100% satisfied with what I have. I know deep in my mind I can do better to unlock my next level of competence, get better jobs and market myself more effectively.
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