Resume writing is undoubtedly an art. But it’s a little scientific, too. After all, you have a limited amount of space in which to create a comprehensive and compelling account of your professional history and expertise. No pressure, right? Plus, it’s increasingly likely that your resume will be scanned by some sort of recruiting software, which means it’s important that you’ve included keywords to help optimize your resume — and increase your chances of landing an interview.
If it’s been awhile since you last wrote a resume (or even if you just finished updating this all-important document), you may be unintentionally making some common resume mistakes. Don’t worry — we’re here to help. Compare this list against your resume and revise as needed.
Failing to target a specific position
It’s so important to tailor your resume specifically for each job you’re applying for and only include experience relevant to that position. After all, your resume should be brief — keep it to a page, if at all possible. Try to include specific keywords that are important to the company’s job, goals or strategy. Employers are looking to hire people who would work well with their company, so prove to them that you’ll be the perfect fit. And remember — you can expand on your experience and skills in an interview. The point of a resume is to immediately pique a recruiter’s interest so that you land an opportunity for additional review and discussion.
Employers want to know what you’ve accomplished, so keeping your experiences vague will do nothing to get you noticed. Use quantitative data over qualitative whenever you can — that means more numbers and fewer words. This will help ensure that your resume is less generic and represents your unique experiences. Plus, by providing quantitative examples of your success, a recruiter will be able to more easily envision your professional history — and can better determine if you’re a fit for the current opportunity.
As you write and format your resume, keep it balanced — otherwise known as maintaining a parallel structure. If, for example, you use bullet points in one section, use them in your other sections, too. Format all of your headings the same way, and keep your body copy at a consistent font type and size throughout the document, too. Another tip? Make sure your verb tense and subject are consistent, too. In addition to the overall flow of your resume, we assume you have closely inspected your resume to eliminate every detectable grammatical and spelling error. But have you checked the format for page setup? A slight change in margin or font-size halfway through the page can throw off the flow and cause distraction. Once you are happy with the content of your resume, take the time to make sure that there are no formatting errors. If you’re sending your resume via email, we recommend exporting the document as a PDF. That way, your formatting will be preserved and you’ll know that the document you send is exactly what a recruiter will see.
Spelling and grammatical errors
Spelling errors are still the most common mistakes made on resumes. And although spell-check can be helpful, don’t become over-reliant on the tool. After all, you may have a word spelled correctly, but it’s used in the wrong way — there’s no spell-check for that. Before you send your resume, enlist the help of a friend or colleague to provide proofreading services. It’s a wonder what a fresh pair of eyes can do.
Even if you’re confident that your current resume is pristine and error-free, don’t fire it off to a company without a quick check. This is your chance to make a critically important first impression, so use it!
Hire or find a professional
Take the time to see who you know to help you with your resume. Are you friends with an HR recruiter who may do you a favor and review your resume? Are you using a headhunting agency to help you with your search? Do you have money to spend on a job coach? Another set of professional eyes and ears will go a long way to helping you determine what language and job related items to keep and what to leave out.
Many times it’s recommended to remove the dates of when you graduated from your college degree because that could potentially “age” you in one direction or the other. If you have a great GPA (3.0 or higher), list it! Don’t include anything affiliated with religion (like what church you belong to) or your family information (wife’s name, kids, ages of family members, etc.) on your resume. Last and most importantly, don’t attach a picture of yourself or list your social security number on the resume. While omitting this information may seem like common knowledge, HR recruiters still see it from time to time.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a professional, polished resume that can help you get one step closer to your dream job. Good luck!