Ten Common Resume Mistakes

Resume MistakesSometimes it really is the little things that make the difference. The way you present your qualifications may be as important as the qualifications themselves. Of course you shouldn’t lie about anything on your resume that goes without saying. But here, in no particular order, are ten resume mistakes to avoid when applying for a job.


1) Not following the directions in the ad. Following the directions given in a help-wanted ad is a good way to start off on the right foot with a potential employer. So if the ad says to email your resume, don’t try to ferret out the fax number. These days, most employers do not have much patience for applicants who can’t use email (especially if the position you’re applying for is clerical in nature). However, sending a resume by both fax and email (just to be safe) is fine if the ad includes both ways of contacting the employer. If you don’t have your own computer or your computer is down, use a friend’s computer or a computer at a public library to email your resume and cover letter. Similarly, although some job-search gurus might recommend it, seeking out the company’s phone number in order to call and ask about the job may be to your detriment especially if the person doing the hiring is busy with other projects (a common occurrence in small businesses) and is unlikely to have your resume handy when you call. Following up by email, however, is non-intrusive and a good idea it could get your resume an important second glance.
2) Stupid spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Whether they appear in the cover letter or the resume itself, these mistakes make you look careless at best and uneducated at worst. Read and re-read everything you submit to potential employers, and it may be a good idea to have another person double-check it as well.
3) Using an immature or risqué email address. Trust me on this one the email address you use is part of the image you project to the person reading your resume. Take five minutes to set up a free email account (at Yahoo.com, for instance) with a professional-sounding username like “janti_loli2008”, rather than using an email address like “se.xpants@whatnot.com”.
4) Sticking to the one-page rule at any price. If given the choice between a well-formatted 2-page resume or a one-page resume with 1/4-inch margins and 8-point, unreadable, tiny type, most hiring directors would rather have the 2-page version. But with either length, make sure the information you’re including is really relevant to the job for which you’re applying. Which brings us to the next pet peeve?
5) Listing every job function you have ever performed at any job you’ve ever held. The HR person reviewing your resume does not need to know that you cleaned the bathroom or assigned parking spaces at a job you held five years ago, unless you’re applying to be a Restroom Technician or Vehicle Allotment Coordinator. What did you do at each job that is relevant to the position you’re trying to land? More isn’t always better; trimming and fine-tuning a description of your responsibilities at former jobs can both make your resume more concise (see #4 above) and more interesting to the hiring director.
6) Listing incredibly technical, overly detailed job responsibilities that are not only irrelevant, but also potentially baffling to the hiring director. Try to boil tech-talk down into lay terms if you’re applying for a job in an industry that doesn’t use that lingo.
7) Not including a cover letter. If you think a cover letter is only useful for saying “Hi, I’m interested in the job you advertised and I’ve attached my resume,” you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity. A well-written cover letter can, for example, explain gaps in employment, i.e. “I took three years off from full-time work to be with my children, but kept my computer skills current by volunteering for my kids’ school and producing their newsletter”; highlight experience you’ve gained from previous jobs that makes you especially qualified for the current position; give your salary requirements – Doing so gives the impression that you have the experience and professionalism to know what your skills are worth. Don’t overlook this chance to give your prospective employer information that may help your resume to stand out.
8) Being vague about your education. You don’t have to give your GPA (unless you really want to), but do list the name of the university, the degree attained, your major, and the year you graduated. If you didn’t graduate, don’t try to hide this fact with vague phrasing an experienced hiring director is familiar with all the ways in which applicants try to hide their lack of a degree. Simply list the years attended and add a phrase such as “Coursework completed toward a degree in [area of study].”
9) Writing your resume or cover letter in a goofy font. Comic Sans MS and similar fonts that look like a second-grader’s handwriting have very few appropriate applications in the business world, and they are especially inappropriate when used for professional correspondence such as resumes and cover letters. (email backgrounds, such as those that look like notebook paper or parchment.) Perhaps you think your unique email stationery expresses your individuality, but do you really want the style of your email to detract from your professional image? Play it safe and stick with the usual business fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica, or the more elegant Garamond and Verdana.
10) Naming your resume file vaguely. If the hiring director is saving resumes to a database, he or she will appreciate a file called “MaryAJones.doc” much more than “Resume.doc.” See the difference? The person opening your email is the first line of contact at the company you’re applying to, so be sure to make that person’s life easier in whatever way you can.
And although it’s not enough of a cardinal sin to be included in the top 10, bear in mind that describing yourself as “detail-oriented” and listing “multi-tasking” among your skills are not likely to set you apart from the crowd. These clichés are also a given of course you pay attention to details, and of course you can handle more than one task at a time. So leave these old standbys out and focus on the individual strengths that really make you shine.
Maybe your job search won’t bring you in contact with a cranky hiring director who has a vendetta against goofy fonts and racy email addresses, but maybe it will. And if your qualifications are just as another candidate’s, but your resume is full of typos while hers is impeccable, who do you think will make the best impression? Don’t let a silly mistake keep you from the job you want.

Image Sorurce : fastweb

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