3 Resume Blunders Everyone Should Avoid
“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?” – Eminem’s true brilliance in his “Lose Yourself” song could not be more appropriately stated than for the creation of the perfect resume.
Resumes are the culmination of all your best efforts wrapped up in a one-page summary posing as an individual sales sheet that aims to score your dream job. The document itself may get as little as a three-second glance by a hiring gatekeeper due to competition and presentation; therefore, you truly have only one shot to get it right. It is the first opportunity to seize the role you’ve been hunting for, and you truly have one moment to gain initial interest.
Most resumes have a similar framework such as an objective, a history of work experience and educational supporting references, but that’s where resumes can go awry. Ideally, if the resume is successful with limited or no mistakes, then the next step is the interview, where your personality can shine through. However, skilled interviewers aim to corroborate the resume with questions that they have planned to ask you in person. This is critical in the early stages of onboarding. As a result of this fact-finding tactic, here are the most common resume errors to avoid:
- Lying. Often people confuse the resume as a place to enter activities that they think they can do, rather than elaborate on the roles that have had in the past. However, embellishing that skillset and outright lying on a resume is a lose-lose situation. From length of time on a job to responsibilities to education — submitting a resume with inconsistencies almost always ends badly. The resume’s purpose is to expand and explore the key activities that make you the best candidate for the role. When a person stretches the truth or outright lies about those activities, the interview can go sideways or, even worse, when you are found out to be lying, you could be fired. Stick to the facts and organize your skills based upon what you do the most of or what is the most important responsibility first and so on.
- Leaving out the objective. This also is a big no-no. The objective is your reason for searching for a new job and, dependent upon where you are in your career, the objective should be modified to either indicate what role you are looking to obtain or what roles you are most likely positioned for. Entry-level candidates should always have an objective while more experienced candidates should ditch the objective for a professional summary or career highlight. Why this is important? Here’s an example: An entry-level candidate was looking to secure a job in the human resources industry. She had just begun a doctoral program in Organizational Psychology and had a 10-year history of working as a nanny while she was in school. The first sentence of her objective read, “Experienced nanny.”Eeek! If you remember from above, some resumes get three seconds. This one got about one second and then went straight to the oval basket. Since she was looking for an entry-level HR role, the hiring agents here are looking for entry-level candidates with little to no experience. Even though she didn’t have any experience, they were stopped in their tracks immediately upon reading “experienced nanny.” This was a huge deterrent; why would a nanny want an entry-level role in human resources? After many weeks of no call backs, she altered her resume to state that her objective was “to obtain an entry-level position in human resources,” the doors opened and she began to get call backs. Simple change, huge difference.
- Having too many jobs. It is typical to see anywhere from three to seven jobs on a resume depending on the industry and where the individual is in their career. An entry-level candidate might have some college-age work experiences unrelated to the anticipated career entries whereas a mid-career candidate might have up to seven jobs. Here is where it becomes dicey. If you enter the date of your graduation on the resume, then you should chronologically list your employers and the work you have done for them highlighting tasks that would compliment your upcoming role.
If you are mid-career and have more than seven jobs on your resume, you might want to consider the following:
- If all those jobs are in the same industry without upward mobility, you may be in the wrong field. This may sound harsh, but the picture painted in a three-second glance isn’t favorable.
- Perhaps it’s time to remove jobs that don’t lend themselves to the future you are heading towards, i.e., consider taking Carvel cashier off your resume.
- Lose the graduation year and list your four most recent jobs or the last few that describe where you’ve spent no greater than the last seven to 10 years of your career. By doing this, you limit your exposure to questioning and you focus on the skillset that will bring you closer to landing your next role. Plus, it’s relevant experience. Anything prior to 10 years likely doesn’t even relate technologically to what you would be working on today, so why bring it to light? Move up and move on.
While these are just a few of the areas in which your resume will benefit from correcting, you still may need professional assistance to present yourself in the best light. Not everyone is a skilled resume writer for sure — and those who are charge anywhere from $50 to $500 per resume. If you consistently notice that you are not getting call backs or recognition from applications, check your facts, review your objective, order your positions/tasks appropriately and keep your professional history relevant. Be authentic, you’ve got one shot.
Rachel L. Anevski
Rachel Anevski, MAOB, PHR, SHRM-CP, is the founder and CEO of Matters of Management, LLC.
More content by Rachel L. Anevski: