Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!
This Week’s Question: What are some common mistakes candidates make on their resumes?
1. Lack of Clarity
If a potential employer cannot understand your work history, skills, or any other portion of the resume clearly and easily, you have already lost the job. They will not take the time to figure it out. They have tens or even hundreds of other candidates, and your resume goes in the trash.
- Scott Kennard, 911 Restoration
2. Cramming Too Much Information Onto the Page
Resumes that include too-small font, dense paragraphs, etc., can be overwhelming and unappealing to employers. If you make it too hard for them to read your resume, they simply won’t, and they will move on to the next candidate. Use the appropriate font size, and break up information by using appropriate headings, bullet points, and bold font (sparingly). Use white space to direct the eyes and make your resume easier to read and more aesthetically appealing.
- Cachet Prescott, Career Coach and Consultant
3. Not Using the Right Key Words
Many candidates do not use the correct SEO word choices that will aid in the applicant tracking system’s (ATS) selection of the resume. These systems search for key words based on the job description. An example could be the use of the term ‘recruiter,’ versus ‘talent acquisitor’ — depending on the industry, either term may be used. Reflect on the wording in the job posting — that is how the resume should be worded.
— Lisa Chenofsky Singer, Chenofsky Singer and Associates
4. Taking a One-Size-Fits-All Approach
If you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to a variety of employers, you will most likely end up with your resume tossed in the wastebasket. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization. If you’re simply sending out the same resume to each employer, it shows potential hiring managers that you’re not interested in the particular job they’re offering. If you’re not willing to read the job description and tailor your resume for the job, they think you don’t care enough about the job to do it, and they won’t think it’s worth their time to give you a chance.
— Jennifer Magas, Magas Media Consultants, LLC
5. Making It All About You
Another common mistake is writing a resume as though it is all about you. It really is not: it is about the prospective employer. Having objective statements and detailing what you are looking for is of no interest the employer. Their biggest question is, What can you do for me? The mistake is in not answering that question.
In that top quarter of your resume, you will be lucky to get a 3-10 second review, and therefore, it is critical to answer this question to ensure the reader continues to evaluate your resume. Start with the most important skill sets, abilities, accomplishments or attributes — most important to the employer — that you bring to the table. Set the stage for them to see you in the role that you are pursuing. Align your resume with the prospective employer and position, allowing the reader to easily identify you in that position.
— Lisa K. McDonald, Career Polish
6. Using an Inappropriate Email Address
Don’t use a personal email address geared more for playtime than work. If you use an email address which references your partying or intimate behaviors — such as ‘wildwoman’ or ‘drunknhorny’ — I question your judgment. It is too easy to get a generic, free email account from Gmail or Yahoo for your interview correspondence to represent yourself in such a manner. Keep the other address for communicating with your friends — not potential employers.
— Cassie Dennis, SocialRaise
7. Focusing on Tasks Instead of Results
Future behavior can be predicted by past behavior, so use those bullets under each job to showcase your accomplishments, not the tasks assigned to the role. Did you standardize a set of processes? Develop industry knowledge? Save time or other resources? Use the bullets to describe your achievements using the skills the employer seeks.
— Marilyn Santiesteban, Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M University
8. Listing Skills They Don’t Really Have
One of the most common resume mistakes I have seen is when candidates list skills they don’t actually have. Remember: anything that is listed on your resume is fair game for an interview. Candidates should be cautious to list skills or acronyms when they really have no understanding of or experience with that skill or technology.
— Nick Santora, Curricula
9. Not Providing Enough Context
It’s great to list your day-to-day responsibilities, but unless we know what your company does, your goals within your department, or what you’ve accomplished in your role, these tasks come across as relatively meaningless.
— Sarah Dabby, ClickTime
10. Forgetting to Be Themselves
I’ve seen many resumes that do not sound or look like the person I’m sitting across from. In some cases, professional resume writers craft the resume’s content to the point where the candidate cannot speak to the experience listed.
Be sure you will feel proud and focused when you hand over your resume. Can you speak to every job, result, and accomplishment listed? Does your resume reflect your humor, energy, passion, and confidence? If your resume looks sophisticated and professional, yet you are relaxed and casual, it will be a challenge to get a hiring manager to see that you are the same person listed on the pages.
— Lida Citroen, LIDA360