Are You Making These Common Résumé Mistakes?
If you've ever been on a job hunt, you know it can be an exhausting endeavour. Between scrolling through endless lists of job postings on various sites, customising impressive cover letters for each role you apply for, and updating your LinkedIn profile with the right buzzwords, the rigors of finding a new job can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least. And on top of navigating the logistics of the job application process, the competition is stiff and the expectations are steep.
To ensure you receive a request for an in-person interview (where you'll surely impress), you'll need to pass the first test: The résumé review. Plucked from a stack of seemingly identical pages, your C.V. simply must hit all the marks to make it past the first round and allow you to really flaunt your skills to your prospective hiring manager. Keep scrolling to read through 17 common résumé mistakes you'll want to avoid as you prepare for the application process.
Making spelling and grammatical mistakes
This one is obvious, but it bears repeating because it's so essential. Competing with countless other applicants, you can't afford to have grammatical or spelling errors, especially if you're going to claim you're detail-oriented.
Not customising your résumé for the job you're applying for
Aside from spelling a would-be employer's name wrong, this is probably the most basic misstep. Customising your résumé for each potential job is an essential key to a strong and effective application. The best way to tailor your résumé is to get familiar with the job description and the company itself. If you're applying for a job at a startup, don't say that your goal is to work for a major corporation. If you're applying for a writing position, highlight your writing experience, and so on.
Being Too General
Specific numbers and figures ensure your statements carry weight. For example, don't simply state that you increased sales. Instead, state that you increased sales by X percentage. Similarly, in the skills section of your résumé, get specific about your levels of proficiency. Though lots of us can make a simple spreadsheet in Excel, fewer among us can also create pivot tables and conditional formulas.
Listing an address outside the city where the job is located
When applying for a job outside of the city in which you currently reside, it's best to leave off your address altogether. Most businesses only need to see a phone number and email address, and listing an out-of-state mailing address may hinder your chances of getting a callback (even if you're willing and able to relocate).
Writing your résumé as a narrative
No need to write a novel here: A résumé is best organised by sections and succinct bullet points. If you have varied work experience, divide by type or shared theme (marketing, editorial, and hospitality, for example); then arrange everything chronologically within these sections. Keep your education and skills separate, too, so it's easy for your prospective employer to scan.
Including every single job you've ever had
If you've been in the workforce for 15 years, there's no need to remind prospective employers of your first retail job at the mall. What's more, any résumé that's over a full page is frowned upon. Even a person with 30 years of experience can edit it down to a page. Tailor your resumé for the job you're applying for, and cherry-pick relevant experience.
Discounting your personality and interests
Depending on the industry, sometimes it's okay to include bits of your personality in your resumé. For example, if you're a whiz at brainstorming, feel free to include that under your skills. It feels work-appropriate, but it also injects a little levity and character. Save the gist of it for your cover letter, though.
Don't overlook font choice and other aesthetic formatting, such as paragraph justification and line spacing. A recent article in Bloomberg Business revealed that Times New Roman is "the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview." It came as a surprise to many, seeing as the font is an old standby. Instead, opt for a simple and sleek sans-serif font like Helvetica. Similarly, even a résumé with a sleek font can give the employer a headache if the text is jam-packed. Take the time to pause and show your resumé to other people before sending it out. If they find it busy and hard to read, edit down and revise.
Listing a GPA That's Less Than Exceptional
If you're more than a couple of years out of school, there's really no need to include your GPA unless it's above a 3.5.
Overdoing it with creative formatting
It may be tempting to include graphics, overlays, or any other interesting visuals in an attempt to make your résumé stand out. However, it'll likely do more harm than good. When submitting an initial résumé, keep it simple and straightforward.
Forgetting to link out
If you have any other online professional presences—be it LinkedIn, a portfolio, or a blog—be sure to include a link. Warning: If you include a link, assume it will be looked at, so ensure it's entirely work-appropriate and will not detract from your candidacy.
Exaggerating and embellishing your accolades
We live in a time where every detail and fact is just a simple Google search away. Make sure that everything you write is indeed true. On the same note, beware of using overly inflated language to describe yourself and your accomplishments. There's a fine line between confident and arrogant—tread it carefully.
Not using action verbs to start sentences
Avoid using passive phrases like "responsible for" when introducing your accomplishments and tasks. Instead, use action verbs: "Resolved," "organised," "led," and so on.
Not prioritising your most impressive details above the fold
You have a full page to show off your skills, but it's best to capture the hiring manager's attention right away. Include your most pertinent and applicable work experience at the top.
Writing in the third person
Referring to yourself in the third person comes off as stilted and strange. Convert to implied first person.
Don't undersell your past roles or feel bound by a title
Sometimes a title and your responsibilities will not quite match up. If you're applying for a director position and believe your responsibilities were commensurate with this position, list your responsibilities. Hopefully you won't be discounted your title alone.
Laying all of your cards on the table right away
Though you certainly want to show off your best assets on your résumé, you don't need to go all-out with the details. Think of your resumé as a sampling of your greatest hits—one that should intrigue interested parties enough that they'll need to bring you in for an interview. The benefit here is that you'll have exciting new information to share with your interviewers.