None of us want to risk having our resume deleted or tossed out because the content and appearance made a hiring manager groan. Trouble is, not everyone knows what’s standard and acceptable in resumes. Especially the kind that hiring managers want to read.
An excellent article on Mashable detailed pet peeves for those in a position to interview and hire.
Avoid These Mistakes at All Cost
- Generic Objectives. These are the types of self-serving statements one often sees from entry-level individuals and those who’ve never applied for work. They generally state what the candidate wants (eg: ‘a position that allows me to use my skills and talents’ – or – ‘an opportunity for growth’). That all sounds fine, except that hiring managers don’t care what you want. They want to know what you can do for their company. Can you make it money? Can you save it money? Will they need to spend a great deal of time, effort and resources training you? Those are the questions you need to address in your resume’s opening. You do that with a qualifications summary (never an objective) in which you include one, preferably two, recent/relevant/quantified accomplishments. In other words, you paint yourself as the ideal candidate for that particular position.
- Text That Is Impossible to Read. That includes font sizes generally reserved for the legal disclaimers in advertisements. Something along the size of 7-8 points. Never reduce Times New Roman font below 11 points, and Arial below 10. Smaller sizes make the text difficult, if not impossible, to read. Avoid italics. Avoid fancy fonts. They may add a ‘wow’ factor for you, but they aren’t easy on the eye.
- Poorly Formatted Documents. This would include too much white space which makes it look as though you have scant experience, or too little white space which makes it appear as though you’ve crammed everything onto one page. Don’t use more than one font type in a resume. Make certain your headers are consistent in presentation. Anything less will result in a sloppy presentation and a resume that will not be read.
- Bells & Whistles That Have Nothing to Do with Your Qualifications. This would include graphics (unless you’re a graphic artist and the designs are ones you created), colored text, colored paper (if you’re going the snail-mail route). Your resume’s content, not embellishments, should wow the hiring manager.
- Failure to Follow Instructions. For example, if the job posting asks for salary history, provide it. If you don’t, you won’t be considered. If you’re instructed to state what specific skills you have that meet the job’s requirements, pull out that information for the hiring manager. Ignoring the directive won’t win you an interview.
- Incorrect Tense. This would include using past tense for tasks that you’re still doing in a current position. Using past tense makes it look as if you’re no longer engaged in those activities. Worse, it makes you appear unemployed. Not a good thing. Equally disastrous is to use present tense for positions you held way back when. The hiring manager will wonder if you’re still working there or if you simply don’t know the rules of good grammar.
- Not Adding Dates of Employment. Remember, you’re a stranger to the hiring manager. He or she won’t try to guess how long you worked at a company or where it’s located. Include that information on your resume.
One of the Most Glaring Mistakes of All
- Failure to Proofread and to Use Grammar/Spellcheck. It takes only one error for you to lose credibility and consideration from a hiring manager. Don’t risk it. Take the time to proofread. Ask someone in your household or a friend to do so. Never submit a resume unless it’s error-free.
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