10 Resume Mistakes

  1. You read or heard that your resume must be one or two pages so you expand the margins and use a very small font. There is no “set” length for the resume. A better solution is to be judicious in the information that is captured. If you have a long job history you may want to eliminate older experience that is not relevant to your current job target.
  2. You have written a general resume. An effective resume has a specific target in mind and your accomplishments and qualifications support that target. Dani Johnson used a great example recently that applies here – if you were calling to book airline tickets you would need to know where you are and where you were going. The same principle applies to your resume. You must have a specific destination in order to plan your flight.
  3. You assume they will get it. It is up to you to clearly articulate what you can do for a prospective employer. Your resume should have high impact, benefit driven statements that show how you can save money, increase productivity, lead teams, etc.
  4. You list responsibilities but no results.  Your resume should demonstrate what you can do for a new employer. Support your target goal by demonstrating past results and quantify them. Numbers tell a powerful story on your resume.
  5. You have great information that no one can find. Assume your resume will be skimmed in 20 seconds. Highlight key information that is relevant to your goal on the front page where it will not be lost.
  6. You mistake a clever layout for “creative.” If you are tempted to center your entire resume and present in a curly cursive font, resist the urge. There are creative touches you can add but you should do so with the audience and delivery methodology in mind. Non-standard fonts are inadvisable for electronic delivery. Your typeface should be easily read. Conservative industries may frown upon “colorful” resumes.
  7. You have ignored visual appeal. The other side of creative is completely bland. Your resume should add elements that lead the reader’s eye to key information and should have an overall visual appeal. You can maintain a clean, professional look without being bland.
  8. You are not writing for your audience. Take the time to understand your target market. Visit company websites, read job descriptions and take notes.  Understanding the problems your market is trying to solve will help you to make a strong presentation of relevant information.
  9. You exaggerate your qualifications. Many people erroneously believe that your resume should be “embellished,” and think that is what professional resume writers do. Your resume should never overstate your qualifications or misrepresent you in any way. Even the language used on your resume should accurately reflect you.  Yes, you want to present your best self but your best true self.
  10. You think your resume is the magic bullet. A well written resume is only one tool in your career marketing tool box. You need clearly defined goals, a well executed strategy and the ability to close the deal. A great resume with a lousy strategy will yield poor results.

There is an abundance of help available in writing your resume. It’s well worth it to take advantage of those resources to craft a polished resume to go along with your job search strategy.

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