5 resume mistakes nearly everyone makes

...And how to avoid them.

by Dominique, published 02/11/2014

5 resume mistakes nearly everyone makes

Resumes can be a tricky business. Though people can’t seem to agree on the rules, exactly, there are a few mistakes that virtually everyone acknowledges are wrong. Misspelled words, poor grammar, and any lies (or even exaggerations) all fall into this category. There are other, subtler mistakes too — and you might be making them.

Take care to avoid these common resume mistakes.

Using the wrong format

Pick a proper format for your resume, says Chris Fields, HR consultant and expert resume writer. Using the wrong format can create a jumbled mess that won’t accurately reflect you and all your accomplishments.

“There are three styles: chronological, reverse chronological and functional. Functional is the least popular style among recruiters and hiring managers,” he explains. Don’t make the decision-maker work harder than they have to; pick one of these styles and do it well.

Including a botched objective statement

If you choose to include an objective on your resume — and it’s certainly not a requirement — it needs to be specific and focus on what you want to contribute to the company and position for which you’re applying. If it’s too vague, references another position or skill set unrelated to the current opening, or if it’s all about what a job will do for you — you have a problem.

No hiring manager wants to speak to someone who indicates up front they aren’t a fit for the job, says Jackie Ducci, president of Ducci & Associates. In her office, a botched objective will have you weeded out and your resume discarded immediately.

Not using keywords

Many employers use electronic applicant tracking systems to filter out resumes that are too far off the mark from the job description. You can be an absolutely perfect candidate for the open position, but if your resume doesn’t include a few buzzwords, you may be filtered out.

“Even if you're lucky enough to get an actual person to skim your resume, they may assume you don't have the right skills if they're not included,” says Leto Papadopoulos, director of training and development at King & Bishop, a full-service HR consulting firm in Boston.

Simply listing all your job duties

Probably every receptionist in the world has to sign for packages, greet guests, have a pleasant phone manner and assist with other tasks as needed. A resume isn’t the place for you to trot out a laundry list of everything you’ve ever done on the job; it’s where you distinguish yourself from the 40 other people who want the same job as you.

Recruiter and hiring managers are trying to fill voids and they want to be confident you’ll benefit the organization. Instead of a rote list of responsibilities, try “quantifying how well you have performed in each role and sharing how employers benefited from your achievements,” says Laurie Berenson, president of Sterling Career Concepts.

Including personal or sensitive information

In a perfect world, there would be no hiring bias and everyone would be judged solely on their professional achievements and potential. Until we find that perfect world, some hiring managers will be reluctant to interview applicants who are too old, too young, have young children, are going through a divorce, practice a different religion, or have some other personal quality they don’t think is great.

“Only relevant information regarding work performance, past work history, and work related items should be presented to potential employers,” explains Lynda Zugec, managing director of The Workforce Consultants, an HR consulting firm. Don’t let yourself be screened because of someone else’s misconceptions. Leave off the personal information.
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