Yes, even the smartest, most qualified job candidates make mistakes on their resumes. So if your job hunt is coming up short, maybe it’s not you… it’s your resume.
Do you want to move your resume from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the crop? Avoid these three fatal flaws of resume writing.
1. Typos and Poor Grammar
“Typos and poor grammar are the first thing that sticks out about a bad resume,” says Aleron Corporate Recruiter Barbara Strother, “mostly because it demonstrates their lack of attention to detail.”
While we have seen that misspelled words or misplaced punctuation marks aren’t always deal breakers for hiring managers, they certainly aren’t doing you any favors, either. And even though some unforgiving HR folks will look past these errors, the vast majority won’t—and that’s why submitting a clean, crisp, error-free resume is your first priority.
Here are some tips to help you write the best resume:
- Print out and edit a hard copy of your resume instead of reading it from your computer screen when you’re more prone to missing errors
- Read your resume out loud; listening to your words will help you determine whether something doesn’t sound right
- Ask your super literate friend or relative to give your resume a once-over (best done over a cup of coffee or couple cold ones)
- Check out Grammarly, the free online writing assistant
2. Cheesy Buzzwords
“Words like ‘guru,’ ‘expert,’ and ‘evangelist’ don’t work for me,” says Barbara. “I’ve had a lot of trouble lately with people claiming to be a ‘leader’ but they’ve never worked in a management or leadership capacity.”
Are you a rock-star number-cruncher who thinks outside of the box to deliver results-driven synergies in a fast-paced environment? No, you’re not. You’re an accountant, okay? Just tell us you’re an accountant with X years of experience doing A, B, or C.
Avoid using the worst resume terms that don’t really say anything. Instead, stick to practical verbs that demonstrate your proven success. According to Wake Forest University’s Office of Personal and Career Development, these action words will enhance your resume and professional profile.
As for leadership, it doesn’t look like you can make the claim without having a definitive leadership position in your job history. However, if you’ve actually—honestly and for real—demonstrated leadership in a non-leadership role, use verbs that suggest as much. Job activities that show you can “administer,” “direct,” or “produce” people or projects will show that you have the capacity to lead. This “show don’t tell” tactic is a low-key way to make a meaningful impact.
3. Tooooo Loooong
It takes the average hiring manager approximately six seconds to scan a resume, so be quick with the good stuff and cut out the fluff. Barbara says that she doesn’t like it when “a resume is way too long,” or “has too much information,” or “repeats the same job duties for every job they’ve ever had.” In short? Get to the point.
As a general rule of thumb, your resume should be as short as possible, and if you have less than 10 years of experience, your resume shouldn’t be more than a page long. If you’re having trouble cutting down your resume or don’t know where to start, consider trying the following:
- Create your resume using online resume builders such as Zety, ResumeGenius or resume.com
- Read your resume and eliminate any redundancies—if you performed the same tasks at several different places, consider rephrasing your accomplishments with different verbiage
- Eliminate adverbs; don’t say you’re “a really talented, super enthusiastic, incredibly dedicated employee” when you can simply state that you’re talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic
Remember, your resume is one of the first impressions you get to make on a potential employer, so make it count with these tips!