The job search process is tough and this makes it even easier for unavoidable mistakes to happen while you are crafting and sending out your resume.
Here are the top 10 mistakes to avoid so that your application can stand out from the crowd.
1. Typos and grammatical errors
Use spellcheck and read through your resume several times before you send it out. Also, do get someone else to proofread it for you and you might get additional insight and opinion from someone else’s shoes.
Resumes with bad grammar and typos tend to give employers a negative impression of the applicant and may cause them to think “Is this applicant even serious about applying for this position?”
2. Lack of specifics
Avoid being vague and instead, go into the details of what you have done and accomplished.
Stating that you have “Worked in a restaurant for 3 years” is not as effective as “Recruited, hired and trained over 20 employees in a restaurant with $1.5 million in sales, for 3 years.”
3. Attempting one-size-fits-all
Generic and all-purpose resumes will not fit the bill for employers and they also tend to be undifferentiated from the crowd and masses.
Instead, craft a resume which lists and details your skills, qualifications and achievements which are highly relevant to the position you are applying.
4. Highlighting duties instead of accomplishments
It’s easier to merely state your performed duties instead of the things which you have accomplished which is of value to your previous roles.
For instance, instead of listing…
- Attended group meetings and recorded meeting minutes
- Worked with children in a day-care center
- Updated files of the department
…try going for something like:
- Recorded meeting minutes in a laptop computer and compiled these documents in an online directory for easy future reference
- Developed 4 daily activities to engage preschool children and organised a full-day excursion for them
- Reorganised and compiled 5 years of departmental files and developed a proper system (tabs and categories) to sort them out.
5. Going too long or cutting things too short
There are actually no fixed rules on how long or short a resume should be, because humans perceive things differently.
However, this does not mean that you should fluff up your resume to a 5 page document, because no employer will have the time to read it in its entirety. A general guideline will be to aim for 2 pages.
This means that if you can trim a 5 page resume down to 2 pages, great! However, if you can convey the same essence of information into a page, instead of 2, then feel free to bring it down. On the other hand, if a single page is not sufficient to detail your skills, experience and qualifications, then stretch it to 2 pages.
6. A bad objective
Since your objective is on the top of your resume, employers will usually read them. Thus, avoid vague statements like “Seeking a challenging role that offers professional growth.” Instead, be specific and relevant to your desired role, for instance “A challenging graduate marketing role that allows me to contribute my skills towards fund-raising for non-profits.”
7. No action verbs
Action verbs excite and attract more attention than passive ones. Instead of saying that you are “Responsible for…”, mention that you “Resolved and addressed user queries in a tech support role that serviced over 3000 staff members.”
8. Leaving out important information
Worked on the side before? Took on some side projects during your school holidays? Then use these to your advantage, instead of leaving them out! You can highlight the soft and transferable skills you gained during these experiences like leadership, team management, communication skills, etc.
9. Visual clutter
Does your resume look “busy and noisy” to the eyes? If so, reduce its visual clutter by minimising the types of fonts you use, increasing the spaces between different sections and use a grid/table layout to make things look more organised. You can also place information of higher priority on the top (like objective, education, work experience) followed by secondary information (extra-curricular activities, miscellaneous skills).
10. Incorrect contact information
Ensure that your contact details are right. Do not take them for granted because these are the means in which employers use to get in touch with you should you proceed to the next step of the application.
What are some other resume pitfalls which we can all avoid?
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