Resume Mistakes

(or, “Common Resume Mistakes and What Not to Include in a Resume”.)

When applying for a job or career, your first impression is often your last impression. A well-prepared and polished resume is an excellent means of getting yourself noticed among the other applicants competing for the same opening. As with mistakes in professional etiquette, mistakes and errors in your resume may make the difference between receiving an interview and finding your resume in the recycling bin.


Common Resume Mistakes

  • Typos – Proofreading for typos and grammatical errors is absolutely necessary. Resumes should be perfect, and even the smallest mistake may give the reader the impression that you either don’t know what you are doing, or that you simply do not care.
  • One Size Fits All – Often, it may seem easier to download someone’s resume or a template and edit it to fit your needs. It is extremely rare that two people will have similar work history and background experience, and doing this might place excessive restrictions on how you may present your information. Instead, each resume should be individual tailored to suit your experience and the requirements of the job you are applying for. If you choose to use a template, make sure that it helps, not hinders, your efforts.
  • Mass-Mailings – Do not simply create a basic resume and send it to every job opening you find. A resume that seems basic and appears to be part of a mass-mailing has a much higher chance of being ignored and simply tossed in the recycling bin.
  • Specifics and Duties – Employers need to be able to easily see what you have accomplished instead of what your basic daily activities were. Highlight your accomplishments with specific details rather than broad generalizations. Avoid lengthy lists of basic duties.
  • Repetitiveness and Creativity – Use varied and detailed action verbs where necessary instead of relying simply on phrases such as “Responsible for.” However, do not get overly creative and do not use excessively complicated words when simpler, more concise language will suffice. Remember that the best way make your resume stand out among the others is to be the most professional and easiest to read, rather than the one that looks the flashiest.
  • Acronyms – Do not use acronyms unless they are widely accepted (aka, industry buzz worthy). In general, titles and positions should be written out in full rather than abbreviated.
  • Superlatives – As with acronyms, do not include superlatives in your resume. Instead, you should emphasize and illustrate your competency with facts and support your claims with numbers and concrete examples.

What Not to Include in a Resume

  • Any details that may be used to determine your age, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, or anything else that may be controversial. Also, do not include a list of your shortcomings, disabilities, or any type of negativity and self-ridicule. Unfortunately, discrimination still exists in the hiring process and it may lead to a premature and completely unwarranted disposal of your resume.
  • Generic objectives should be replaced with one that is specific for the company and opening that you are applying for. In some specific cases, the objective may also be replaced with career or skill summaries if you feel that they may be beneficial.
  • “References available upon request.” Generally this is a waste of space, and the resume itself should focus on your experience instead. Often this is understood and employers will ask for them as necessary.
  • As a general rule, hobbies should not be included in a resume unless they are specifically related to the job in question. Showing too many interests may give the employer the impression that you are not focused, or force them to worry about your ability to focus and avoid being distracted by your hobbies. Instead, use the space to discuss your work experience and save your talk of hobbies and interests for the interview.
  • Do not list short-lived jobs. Most employers do not want to waste their time and money training employees who appear to jump from job to job. Also, do not list more experience than necessary. Your first priority should be to illustrate your experience and then to avoid giving the employer the impression that you are not committed to keeping the job if you are eventually hired.
  • Be careful with Grade Point Averages. A collegiate GPA should be included only if you are within a year after graduation and it was exceptionally high. Additionally, extra-curricular activities from high school should not be included, and those from college should be listed with caution so as to avoid possible discrimination. As with other aspects of your resume, tailor this information to suite the particular job that you are applying for.

Your resume is your way of advertising yourself to prospective employers. It should be used to present yourself in the best possible light by emphasizing the strong points in your work experience. As a general rule, resumes are quickly scanned and may not get more than 15-30 seconds of consideration. Excessively lengthy resumes are as likely to be discarded along with those who present their author in a less than positive light.

Remember that a resume is a basic means of advertising yourself professionally, and that it is only the first step in that process. A successful resume may result in a formal interview during which you may be given a chance to expand upon the basic image created and elaborate on the details that have been carefully omitted.

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