Problems with your Job Search? Avoid these 5 Common Resume Mistakes
Are you are on the job market and need to find a new job? Maybe you have recently been let go, a contract ended, or you are ready to move onto bigger and better things. One of the first things that you may do is to update your resume. Consider your resume as your ticket to your next interview. Before you get that request for an interview, though, your resume is likely going to go through the hands of a recruiter. Most recruiters will tell you that they spend about 15 to 30 seconds reviewing a resume. This means you really need to make sure that your resume is well-organized and easy to read. As a recruiter, if I find myself spending too much time trying to decipher a resume, I will probably just move on to the next resume.
Five Resume Mistakes that Could be Hurting your Job Search
Here are some things that recruiters hate seeing on resumes that might make us skip right over you.
- No contact information at the very top of the resume. If you don’t have any contact information at the top of your resume, I probably am not going to waste my time looking for you. The only exception would be given to someone who is perfect for a position and meets very specific requirements. If I come across your resume with no contact information, but I have 25 others with information included, you may be out of luck. At the very least, leave an email address for some level of contact which will give the recruiter hope that he or she may reach you. It is always best to include a phone number.
- Writing in huge paragraphs without breaks. Use bullet points. Make it easy to read. To this day, I am baffled when someone decides to write a resume in huge paragraphs with no breaks. Not only does this make it painful to pull out the specifics of what it is that you do, it is also rather painful on the eyes. I’ve recruited plenty of Contract Specialists where candidates write in huge blocks that are hard to read. You are not doing yourself any favors by doing this. The real irony is even if your resume is written in a paragraph format, a recruiter will typically need to change the format into bullet points before sending a resume over to a hiring manager so it is easier for them to follow.
- Copying and pasting information. Every so often I will come across a resume that has the same information listed for each role. Even if you had the same job title with different companies I am sure that some of your duties were different. Lay those out and explain what you did. Your resume is too important to take the quick way out and reuse all the same information. Recruiters and hiring managers will notice this and not take your resume seriously. And, while it is a good idea to have similar experience as what is called for in the job advertisement, I have also had someone take the information from the ad we posted and paste that information as the exact same duties that they performed in their most recent role. Don’t do that.
- Resume is too long. Limit the length to one to two pages for every 10 years of experience. Having a resume the size of a small novel is a mistake. If your resume is 10 pages long, no one is ever going to read it all. You basically did all that work for yourself and everyone else will probably be slightly annoyed by it. Do what you can to keep the length to a reasonable minimum. Keep in mind you have around 15 seconds to really catch a recruiter’s attention. Having a resume that is 10 or even 5 pages long will make it impossible for someone to get the best highlights in that amount of time.
- A generic summary or list of adjectives. Listing adjectives like hardworking, leadership, dedicated, trustworthy or thoughtful is not going to work in your favor. This is actually taking away the prime real estate at the top of your resume with words a recruiter won’t take seriously. Anyone can list a series of adjectives or come up with a boiler plate summary about themselves. Instead be more specific and think bigger! If you need to add more to your resume, think about your achievements and accomplishments from past (and current) roles. At the end of each role add a few bullet points of the highlights of your work in those roles. If possible, quantify your achievements, for example, “saved the organization more than $XX over XX months by implementing a more efficient process for . . .” This type of information will allow your resume to really stand out.
When it comes to writing the perfect resume there really is no right or wrong way to do things. Everyone has their own opinion on what you should or should not do. As recruiters we frequently look at hundreds of resumes in a single day. If you want to increase the likelihood that your resume will gain a little extra attention, avoid making these five mistakes! Want some more information on what to include in your resume? Check out my colleague, Krystal Freeman's article on "The 10 Basics to Cover".