In a recent study, hiring managers shared the most common resume mistakes they see.
Don’t be these people! Read on for the gaffes, as well as advice for correcting them:
- Resumes with typos: This is inexcusable, but it happens. The top way to fix this is to print your resume out. It’s much easier to spot typos on a hard copy. It’s also smart to have a few other people read it; the more eyes the better because after you have looked at it so many times, you start to see what you want to see, not what’s there.
- Candidate has an inappropriate, non-professional-sounding email address: Ugh. This one is so easily fixed with a free Gmail address that should use your name — and nothing else. No one cares that you love your cat, or your local baseball team, or your childhood nickname. And, fair or not, an AOL email address makes you look like you’re still living in a dial up “You Got Mail” world.
- Resumes with missing information — no dates of employment, no list of skills: It’s too easy for people to assume that the reason you don’t include this information is that you either have no attention to detail, or you have something to hide. Don’t let them make that inference. One more point on “missing information”: Make sure your dates match. In one interview years ago, the hiring manager read my dates and asked me how I could have been in Seattle and Los Angeles simultaneously. Somehow I had mixed up the months/years which created an overlap. I improvised with a joke about being a crazy commuter but fixed it ASAP.
- Resumes are too generic, not tailored for the position: You should always customize every resume you send out to speak to the position you want. At the least, develop resumes for each “type” of position you are looking at. For example, if you are interested in either a sales or managerial position, make sure that you have different resumes that highlight the unique characteristics and talents needed for each.
- Resumes that copy/paste text from the job ad: Now I can go both ways on this one. Because I have heard that sometimes a digital system will specifically scan for certain words, if you parrot them back, you’re more assured that you won’t be screened out. I guess the point is to have a light touch. Maybe mirror some of their language if it’s natural, but don’t make it a big stretch to include their exact words, and not in the same order!
- Resumes printed on decorative paper: Well, I feel like this is one not to worry about too much, because does anyone even send out hard copies anymore? Maybe. So, I guess let this be your warning. Don’t make your paper too decorative! Go with a heavy-weight cream color. A bigger worry I would mention than the paper are the fonts. Too many crazy fonts is distracting.
- Resumes that are too long or too short. This is a judgment call and hard to know if you would be too long or too short. I guess a good barometer is if you have hit all the highlights in an explanatory fashion…without too much. Also unless you are working on getting your very first job, leave off the details of summer jobs and high school jobs. Unless the fact that you overhauled the pizza delivery process, or supervised six other employees at the mall is pertinent to the position you are seeking, please don’t include it. But also don’t neglect to include details of your more recent jobs that show leadership, teamwork, communication, process improvement or any other quality that will set you apart from other job seekers.
The bottom line is that we are all human and everyone viewing your resume is human – with their own biases and preferences. As a job seeker, your No. 1 job is to make sure that your resume reflects why you would be the best person for the job – and puts your best foot forward.
by Cathie Ericson