Every hiring decision maker has their own resume preferences so while there is no “perfect” resume style, there certainly are cardinal mistakes to avoid. Over the years, I have given THOUSANDS of free resume critiques and continually see the following basic errors.
Typos, grammar and spelling mistakes
Your resume is the first point-of-contact you have with a potential employer. Do you really want to make a bad impression by failing to proofread and correct such avoidable errors? (Tip: When applying for a job in Canada, ensure your word processing software language is set at Canadian English and not US.)
Using a downloadable template
Yes the free resume templates look nice and certainly make it easy to create a basic resume but now you’ve created a resume that has the same “look and feel” of other job search candidates. The point of a resume is to stand out from your competition by creating a document that is unique to you, not a replica of someone else’s creation.
Inappropriate email address
Avoid using a Hotmail address in a resume as it is often considered too personal for career management purposes. Create a Gmail account or one from your ISP provider and keep the email address simple, encompassing just your first and last name. Do not use a shared email address (such as BarbieandKen@myisp.com) or a personalized email address (such as firstname.lastname@example.org).
Too long, too short, wrong format
The content of a resume should fill each page and never exceed 3 pages, with 2 pages being the standard document length. Do not send a resume that is 1 ¼ pages, 2.5 pages, or 5 pages. Also avoid using the “functional” style of resume as it is the least preferred format read (and tossed) by HR influencers.
Clearly identify at the top of the resume what role or type of role you are seeking (examples: Project Manager or Project Management Expert). A Hiring Manager is NOT going to take the time to guess what position you are seeking, they are simply going to move onto the next applicant.
Including an “Objective” statement
In my professional resume writing business, I have not used an Objective statement in over 10 years! An Objective statement immediately dates the resume. Today’s enticing resumes begin with a compelling personal brand statement, describing what is unique about you to the potential employer.
Not computer scannable
Increasingly, companies employing greater than 150 employees are now using computer technology to prequalify applicants. Referred to as an Applicant Tracking System, the application scans each resume in search of keywords and key phrases selected by the employer as pertinent to the job. Your resume is toast if it does not include the right keywords aligned to the job function and employer.
Additionally, formatting techniques can negatively impact the scanning process. Features such as graphics, shading and underlines (not borders) or putting contact information in headers and footers, can be overlooked by certain scanning applications.
Boring read filled with job duties
A future employer wants to know about what you personally accomplished in each role, not a list of the job duties. Capture the reader’s attention by sharing stories of achievements with quantifiable metrics. Here’s an example: Consistently exceeded sales quota by >40% year-over-year, adding new clients in new sectors to the account base, boosting the company’s brand position in the GTA from #3 to #2 in 1 year.”
Leaving a career gap
A resume is about making an open and honest first impression. Only displaying certain jobs on a resume leaves the reader wondering why you intentionally omitted specific time periods in your document. I advise all my clients to tell the complete story, even if it means you took time off to raise a family or care for an elderly parent.
Includes unnecessary information
In North America, do not share age, sex, marital status, politics, and religion in a resume and save the headshot picture for your LinkedIn profile. Unless there is a direct correlation between the target job and your personal interests or hobbies, leave this information off a resume as it is irrelevant. Also exclude the phrase “References available upon request” and avoid including a list of references in the body of the resume. Create a separate reference page and share the document when asked by the future employer and not before.