February 10, 2011

Seven Common Resume Mistakes

Before you’ll be offered a job or even offered an interview as one of the top candidates for a job, potential employers will review your resume and cover letter.

Finding a job will be tough if you don’t have a great resume, but people commonly make major mistakes when creating this document. Let’s look at seven common resume mistakes that you should avoid as you apply for jobs:

1. Limiting yourself to a single page

Traditionally, resumes are as concise as possible, but it’s a myth that the best resumes are always one page. If you don’t have tons of education or experience, don’t include a lot of unnecessary fluff to try to make it longer, but if you also don’t have to cut out information that could be relevant in order to get it down to one page. Employers don’t want ten pages of information, and it makes sense to cut out or minimize information about jobs that aren’t relevant to your current search, but it is okay for a resume to be two or three pages if necessary.

2. Having inconsistent formatting

If you bold-face the title of one section, make sure they are all bold. If you use bullet points to list your responsibilities at one job, don’t use a numbered list for the second job. Check over your resume to ensure that everything in your resume is consistent. Little touches like that show that you’re attentive of details, which is great for any job.

3. Using a generic mission/personal statement or objective

At one time, all resumes started with an objective. Today, this section of a resume doesn’t make sense in many cases. Unless you have an extremely unique or interesting statement, this section is usually too generic to be useful to potential employers. It’s okay to leave it off completely for many jobs out there.

4. Sending your U.S. resume to international employers

If you’re job hunting in a foreign country, do a little research to find out what an international resume should look like. In some countries, for example, you are expect to submit a picture as part of your resume, which is not common in the United States. Writing an international resume or CV isn’t any more difficult than writing a resume or CV for United States employers, as long as you know the format to use.

5. Including tons of information about jobs that have no relevance

It’s fine to include jobs on your resume that are in unrelated industries, especially if you don’t have tons of experience. These positions can show that you’re responsible, a team player, and more. However, don’t spend half a page listing your responsibilities as a retail clerk if you’re trying to find an Alaskan fishing job. The point of a resume is to quickly show a potential employer that you’d be good at the open position, so you don’t need to list everything.

6. Submitting a resume with unexplained gaps

You may not think that it is relevant to list that retail job at all if you want to work in the fishing industry, but even if you are very, very brief about this position, including it is important. Otherwise, during the three years you worked at the mall, an employer might think you were unemployed or worse! If you do have recent gaps of more than a few months, explain them in your cover letter if possible.

7. Using a single resume

If you’re applying to multiple jobs, take the time to tailor your resume for each position. You don’t have to make huge differences, especially if you’re applying for a bunch of similar positions at different companies, but sometimes it makes sense to change the order of your sections, use different references, include special information, and so forth. Put your best foot forward every time you send out your resume and you’ll be more likely to get a call back for a job you really want.

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