5 Resume Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Congratulations! You have made the momentous decision to return to work or radically change your career. What’s the next step? Craft a compelling resume to tell your story and sell yourself to prospective employers. A strong resume will absolutely make a difference in the number of interviews or job leads you receive. On the other hand, a less than stellar resume might work against you.

Want to learn more about how to create a winning resume that will help you land interviews? Join me on Oct. 14 at Make It Better’s Re:Work 2015, where I’ll tell you everything you need to know about polishing your resume. Here’s a preview of some of the tricks and techniques I’ll be discussing at Re:Work.

When you sit down to write your resume, try hard to avoid these common mistakes:

1. Cramming your experience into one page

You may have been told by your undergraduate or graduate career advisor that a resume has to be no longer than one page to be accessible to recruiters. While I agree that resumes should be succinct, a one-page resume does not allow enough space for job seekers to adequately represent themselves with an introduction, professional experience, education and talents. These days, most recruiters are trained and expect to scan two page resumes for the information they need. Feel free to use the space to expand on some of your accomplishments.

2. Forgetting an introduction

Most recruiters spend a very short amount of time scanning (not reading) resumes. They want quick-hit snippets of information and keywords to quickly assess whether the candidate is worth an interview. If you dive directly into your professional experience, with no introduction, you are not helping the recruiter understand your value. Use an introduction to highlight who you are! Start with a title or brand, then a summary statement, and, finally, a set of bulleted keywords. Your recruiter will thank you! (And hopefully reward you with an interview).

3. Not including keywords

While listing keywords may seem optional to you, many recruiters use them as their compass when evaluating a candidate. Make sure you use the keywords that are in the job description. You can incorporate them into your summary statement or list them below in a bulleted “Key Areas of Expertise” section. In essence you are “spoon-feeding” recruiters by highlighting the keywords they are searching for (while not misrepresenting yourself, of course). Keywords are so important, in fact, that they can be a reason why employers dismiss your resume. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 35 percent of employers cited resumes that didn’t include a list of bulleted skills as one of the most common reasons to pass on a candidate.

4Getting too fancy with fonts or graphics

Stick to a clean layout and design with a traditional font. A 10-point font is preferred. Section headings can be bolded or underlined, but stay away from color or hard-to-read fonts that may not print well. You’ll want to include separate titled sections as well as consistent bulleting throughout. The one area where you can be creative is your use of language. Try not to use the same action words over and over (e.g., “managed” or “developed”). Use descriptive, bold sentences and phrases that entice the reader. If you are not particularly creative, enlist the help of a friend or professional resume writer to spice it up.

5. Underselling your experience

In the quest to find the right fit, many candidates are afraid to sell themselves or highlight their strengths for fear of bragging. The resume is one place where you don’t want to be humble! Identify and articulate your strengths (from a personal and professional point of view) as well as how you can add value to their organization. If you have been out of work for five, 10, or even 20 years, you still have applicable skills that need to be shared. Identify those skills and toot your own horn. You are not bragging, you are confidently stating that you can do the job well.

Aileen Baxter

Chat more about this event on Facebook and Twitter by using #ReWork2015. 

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