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Top 10 Resume Writing Mistakes

BY IN Resume, Tips On 24-09-2015

As you search for a job, think of your resume as a tool that gets you in front of employers and hiring managers.  It’s critical that your resume works for you, not against you.  It’s easy to make mistakes – so read this guide to avoid common errors!

1. Paragraph Form

Your resume should be easy to read.  Managers want to quickly scan and glance over resumes – allowing them to get an idea of your education, background and skills in only a few seconds.  If your resume is formatted to include long, dense paragraphs, hiring managers will miss important details that set you apart from other candidates.  Ditch wordy sentences and instead use bullet points and keep it succinct!

2. Typos and Grammatical Errors

Nothing screams sloppy like a typo on a resume.  This is one instance where mistakes and spelling errors truly can have a lasting negative impact against you.  Take your time.  Ask a friend to review your resume for mistakes, or read your resume backwards – which forces you to read more slowly and thus you’ll catch those sneaky typos.

3. Generic Language & Lack of Specifics

Add helpful details that explain your experience.  To set yourself apart, employers need to understand what you are capable of, through your past experience.

Below are two examples of the same job experience, but the second example includes more information:

  • Example One: Retail Manager – Worked with employees in a retail setting.
  • Example Two: Retail Manager – Recruited, hired, trained and supervised more than 10 employees in a retail store with $800k in annual sales.

Both of these examples describe the same role.  However the details and specifics in the second example convey useful information that will postiviely influence the employers perspective of you.

4. Missing Email Address

I attended the Career Fair at the University of Minnesota recently, and was surprised at how many students gave me resumes that contained no email address.  Make sure your resume includes your phone number and email address – these are more important than your mailing address.

5. One-size-fits-all Resume

Avoid the trap of thinking that you can send the same hum-drum resume to all hiring mangers.  Instead, make sure your resume is modified and tweaked each time you apply for a job.  The modifications should include specific examples of work experience (or class project experience) that relate to the job opportunity you seek.  Show how and why your skill set and background make you a good fit for the position.

6. Too Long or Too Short

Myth: your resume must not exceed one page in length.  There are no rules for resume length.  There is no need to use font size 8 in order to cram everything onto one page.  By following the guidelines listed in point #1 above, you will have written your resume in bullet point form, with succinct sentences.  If this means your resume comes out at 2 pages in length, that’s ok.

Having said that, I have never seen a 5 page resume – so generally speaking, try to keep it within 1 or 2 pages in length.  If you have many publications you’d like to include, consider putting them into an attachment rather than in the body of the resume.

On the flip side, if your resume is 1/2 a page in length, you’re selling yourself short.  Consider beefing it up with more specific details on previous experience.

7. No Action Verbs

When summarizing work experience, specifically convey the issues you resolved.  Instead of using generic phrases such as “responsible for”, include action verbs to explain your role: “Resolved customer questions as part of the Sales Support staff, serving 20 engineers and 3,000 customers.”

8. Visually Cluttered

PLEASE!  Do not use umpteen different fonts, sizes, bold, italics and underlined text.  I can tell you from experience, jumbled resumes are a headache and beg to be thrown in the shredder.  Keep things simple and clean.  When it comes to formatting your resume, less is more.  Use consistent formatting throughout the document, and if you’re overwhelmed with formatting, start with a template.

9. A Poorly Written Objective

Every single letter, comma or bullet point on your resume should have a reason for existing.  If it doesn’t add value, drop it.  This especially applies to your objective – the opening statement at the top of your resume.  In 1 – 3 sentences, tell employers what you’re trying to accomplish AND how you can help them.  So think through the challenges and issues that your employer is facing and then convey how you are a solution to that problem.

10. Excluding Past Experience

You may have previous job experience that does not relate to the industry or role you are applying for – which may lead you to exclude that experience from your resume.  Think again.  The soft skills you’ve gained from previous experience are important to employers – for example, communication skills, prioritizing tasks, time management, and work ethic.

Need help with your resume?  Contact Sanna with Taylee Staffing to make your resume stand out!

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Sanna is co-founder and President of Taylee Staffing. She is passionate about helping people find jobs they love. In her free time, she enjoys travel, running and cooking.

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