You’ve written your resume and cover letter, spent hours trying to capture what makes you unique. The problem is – it’s not working. You are not getting calls. Perhaps it is time to drop back and examine your resume for some of these common mistakes people make when constructing their own resumes.
1. You skim the top of information, giving only general ideas of your career roles. You figure a hiring manager reading your resume will know what past jobs entailed simply by reading job titles, right? Wrong! Job titles are not standardized and can vary widely from company to company and even industry to industry. Don’t assume the hiring manager will figure out your past roles. The hiring manager is not going to do any work on your behalf! There are too many applicants in the market to waste time on “maybe” candidates. Give specific details about your roles, quantifying wherever possible. Concentrate on high-level skills and unique experience that will be valuable to the reader.
2. You fudge details. When nothing is happening for you in your job search, you may be tempted to fudge on your resume to seem more qualified than you really are. Don’t do it! Employers will find out and then you are in even more of a pickle. If you claim a certain skill on your resume, the employer will ask behavioral questions in the interview to elicit the depth of your knowledge. It will be very apparent that you are clueless or don’t have the skill level you claim. Not only will you be eliminated immediately, but you have burned that bridge forever for any possible employment. Don’t lie on your resume – you will be found out.
3. You don’t proofread. Spell-check is not the end all and certainly does not catch everything wrong in spelling, grammar or formatting. Have someone proofread your resume for you. After spending hours working on the document, you simply will not see your errors.
4. You give irrelevant information in the resume. Trust me – employers are not interested in the fact you like to fish, read, listen to music, or play hopscotch. Employers are concerned about information related to your experience, your skills, and your ability to do the job. Employers don’t need anything to “break the ice” in an interview. They know how to ease into an interview without having to rely on hobbies or interests from your resume.
5. You take your work history all the way back to the 70’s. Employers are interested primarily in the most recent ten years experience because that is what is most relevant to their needs today. Detailing your work history for many years longer than the past decade hurts you because the information is not relevant and it can also put an “age stamp” on you.
6. You don’t include a summary at the beginning. Just like the back of a book cover, the summary tells the reader what is coming and entices him/her to read further into the resume. Leave out the summary and you miss the opportunity to interest the employer.
Alesia Benedict is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC)