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7 Common Mistakes When Writing a Resume

Human Resources

7 Common Mistakes When Writing a Resume image iStock 000009463013XSmall

Rushed, unthoughtful resumes lead to joblessness. Does that sound like fun? It shouldn’t. Below are 7 common mistakes we often come across on resumes and how you can avoid them and, hopefully, win that life-changing interview.

Tailoring Resumes to Everyone

Each resume you send out should be unique to the job. There is no cookie cutter recipe to resume writing, though it shouldn’t be too hard to rearrange a few details to capture the interests of a certain employer.

This idea extends into the realm of “searchability,” too, or when job hunters add keywords to their resumes that match postings.

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Poorly Written Position Descriptions

When it comes time to fill out your experiences you may think, “Well, what did I do in this position that really matters?” That’s up to you to decide. You need to clearly communicate via a resume what you accomplished in each position. Don’t only list duties and responsibilities — instead, write proactive statements that showcase the skills and abilities you used in the position.

Being Too Modest

Resumes are a place for you to brag about yourself. It’s like a sales pitch, though everything you say in a resume needs to be backed up by objective facts and experience. Avoid sounding too arrogant, overly-accomplished, or like a general ass in your resume, too.

The “Career Objectives” Section

A majority of resumes open up with a sentence like…

“I’m a dedicated professional looking forward to building Company XYZ’s communications department.”

These career objectives are vague and pretty much the same iteration of a thousand others. Trash the objective and stick to something more telling such as a Summary of Qualifications and, later, a Core Competencies section. These assets prove to employers why they should call you. They already know why you’re applying — why waste space with a forced sentence and objective?

The Fallibility of the English Language

Spelling and grammar — yes, that stuff they taught you in grade school — never matters more than it does on a resume. Most employers are people and are rather forgiving if there is a slight error, but you should never rely on a potential hirer’s forgiveness. Comb through your resume one word at a time for spelling errors and consider passing it off to a friend for an extra spellcheck.

Next, spend some time reading your resume out loud and listen for any grammatical nuances that sound off or wrong. Stuck? Pull out the old dictionary, research grammar and sentence structure online, or hire a professional.

That “College” Stuff

Most graduates and first-time job seekers pad their resumes with organizational titles, GPAs, societal involvement, and other info that frankly doesn’t matter much once they get a job. This information can make a difference on resumes when all a person has is two years at a fast food restaurant and a degree, though once they enter into that first job it’s time to drop the “Event Planner of the Student Activity Board” and related information. Most employers simply do not care.

Overloading Resumes

There are two things that turn off employers more than anything:

1) The “obsolete” resume where a potential hire hasn’t had a position or accomplished anything for a long period of time.

2) The resume that has too much information and outlines the trajectory of a person’s life from birth.

Avoid both of these, though some people obviously deserve gigantic resumes as long as the skills and experiences are applicable to a position. Stick to information that is relevant and recent (see above section “That ‘College’ Stuff”). Most employers have a stack of equally qualified hires; it’s up to you to communicate and highlight feats and accomplishments that position you in front of the herd.

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