Perfecting your resume can be a lengthy and tiring process, but it's all worth it when you get called in for an interview. However, while you may think your resume is flawless, you might be making common mistakes and be completely unaware of it. There's a lot of subjectivity around what goes into a good resume, but there are also some major errors that can turn off recruiters or hiring managers. Here are five common resume mistakes to avoid:
1. Formatting issues
Sending out a resume online can be nerve-wracking, considering the entire process seems rather nebulous. Once your resume is submitted, there's no way of knowing how much time a hiring manager spends looking over it. However, if you don't format your resume appropriately, they may not look at it at all. When submitting applications online, make sure that your resume is in the proper format (.doc, PDF, etc.) so that your application doesn't get discounted. Also consider that complex elements such as charts, graphs, headers and footers may not automatically format into the application system.
2. Not aligning your profiles
If your resume and professional profiles have disparate information, it can make you look untruthful or show a lack of attention to detail. The information on your resume, LinkedIn profile, portfolio and other professional materials should all corroborate. This doesn't mean you should just cut and paste your resume across different platforms online, but you should make sure that your name and contact information are consistent and that your professional qualifications line up.
3. Listing skills at the bottom
Once you've listed all of your past work experience and education on your resume, it's easy to try and sandwich in a list of skills near the bottom of the document. Your skills shouldn't be an afterthought, place them in the top third of your resume so that they catch the attention of recruiters. Remember that hiring managers like to see keywords and relevant skills that immediately distinguish you as a viable candidate for the position.
4. Adding irrelevant information
Listing hobbies, interests and other personal information only makes sense if it's directly related to the position. Your resume has a very finite amount of space, and rather than add frivolous information, stick to info that's relevant. For new job seekers, it may be hard to fill up an entire page with professional qualifications. In this situation, remember that white space can be a valuable asset on your resume as well. Use spacing to draw attention to important details on your resume rather than clutter it with random activities.
5. Using an objective
Putting an objective at the top of your resume has become somewhat outdated and generally doesn't convey the image you are hoping to achieve. Instead, opt for an executive summary that provides a general description of your skills, accomplishments and qualifications. While it can be a daunting task to summarize your resume in one or two sentences, this will ultimately be much more valuable than an objective. Think about it this way: A summary tells an employer what you bring to the table, whereas an objective expresses to employers what you want. The former shows initiative and demonstrates that you're ready to take on new challenges. The latter has an inherently selfish quality.
Overall, make sure your resume is precise and customize it to fit every position for which you apply individually. Keep information relevant and consistent, and make sure your resume provides recruiters and hiring managers with tangible evidence of your abilities.
While you may be able to easily prepare for common interview questions, sometimes an interviewer will ask you something you simply won't see coming. This may seem like nothing more than an attempt to throw you off your game, but there's usually some logic behind these inquiries. Though you may not be able to plan out an answer for this type of question, you can still answer articulately in a way that will impress potential employers. Here are three examples of odd questions interviewers may ask you and the reasons they may be asking them:
1. Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?
Asking this type of question allows an employer to learn a couple things about you. First, it serves as an opportunity to see how you react on the fly. Most positions require flexibility and adaptability, especially in high-pressure situations. Consider this type of question a chance to show off your problem-solving and improvisation skills. Moreover, if you come up with several probable answers to this type of question, it shows interviewers that you have the ability to logically approach a problem.
2. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
This question is a bit more lighthearted. An interviewer may ask an inquiry such as this so he or she can gauge what kind of personality you have. Not only does this type of question give you an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity, but also provides an opening to tell interviewers more about yourself. When addressing questions such as this, don't feel inhibited, rather answer honestly and explain why you would opt for a specific choice.
3. How many snow shovels were sold in the US last year?
Similar to the tennis ball question, asking this type of inquiry gives you a chance to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. While it may seem like a good idea just to take a random guess, instead take your time and talk through the problem. Explain your thought process to the interviewer so he or she can see that you're taking the time to think it through and work out the details.
Anytime you are asked a question that might be challenging or unorthodox, take the time to answer it thoughtfully. This will prove to interviewers that you will approach tasks with intelligence and dedication.
If you're looking to find your first job and break into your career, the entire job hunting process might seem new and complicated. It can be challenging to know exactly where to look for jobs and how to make contact with key hiring personnel. In many cases, simply finding open positions that you're passionate about may be a challenge. However, this is partially because many of the most desirable job openings never make it to major job boards. Rather than spend time digging through dozens of outdated posts, use niche job boards and other strategies to locate the position of your dreams. This can be a confusing concept for many novice job seekers, because sending out resumes on the Internet feels like action. While filling out applications for hours may seem like progress, it is often a fruitless venture. In fact, when you apply to unadvertised positions, there is often a better possibility of getting an interview. Here are five tips for seeking out unadvertised position openings:
1. Use your network
A majority of jobs are found through networking. At the end of the day, you likely have friends and acquaintances with common interests, some of which may work in the same industry you're hoping to enter. It's important to identify people in your network that can inform you of unadvertised job openings and may be able to introduce you to recruiters and hiring managers in your industry. Attend networking events and meet a wide range of people to help ensure you remain abreast of new job openings.
2. Create a list of desirable companies
The companies you dream of working for might not post listings on large job boards. In many cases, companies that receive lots of applicants and job inquiries may only post openings on industry-specific job boards or on their own websites. This makes it easy for them to identify who is taking the time to seek out their company specifically. Create a list of 10 or 20 businesses at which you would love to work. This list will give you a resource to refer back to at anytime, and then you can go through and browse the job listings on each company's website individually.
3. Be active on social media
It's easy to set up social media accounts and update them occasionally. However, it can be a bit more challenging to regularly post and exchange information via these platforms. Using forums such as LinkedIn and Twitter to actively engage with other users, share news and showcase thought leadership can attract recruiters and potential employers. In particular, recruiters are generally active on these websites to scout out talent and find candidates to fill positions. If you use these sites passively, you'll potentially get looked over by these key hiring professionals.
4. Get out of the house
It might seem logical to sit down at your desk and dedicate yourself to several hours of filling out applications. Yet, isolating yourself means you're not interacting with other professionals and potentially missing out on networking opportunities. While at times it may be important to sit down and fill out paperwork, don't rest your entire job search on submitting resumes online.
5. Volunteer and find other projects
Seeking out volunteer opportunities or professional side projects can be beneficial to your job search. Not only do these ventures allow you do more networking, but they also give you a chance to demonstrate your professional skills and work ethic.
While you're in high school or college, a summer internship is a great way to gain some professional experience and have something to put on your resume. However, while internships are quickly becoming a norm for students and new job seekers, not every internship results in a job offer. Entering an internship under this false assumption would be foolhardy. Instead, consider an internship an opportunity to make yourself indispensable. Prove that you are not only ready for a full time position, but also deserving of it. Here are five tips for turning your summer internship into a possible job offer:
1. Ask questions
Remember that an internship is a learning experience. Since you're brand new to the workforce, odds are you'll have lots of questions and be unsure of how to approach certain tasks. Rather than waste time trying to figure it out on your own, take opportunities to learn from your superiors. This practice will also help you demonstrate engagement in the position and learn the ins and outs of the business. Make sure to take notes that you can refer back to as well.
2. Show off your professionalism
In the professional world, it's often easy to separate an intern from the rest of the workers. Many students are accustomed to a relaxed work environment, informal dress code and (in some cases) showing up hungover. However, approaching your internship with a laid back attitude can potentially suggest to your employer that you're not ready to take on more responsibility. It's important to act as if the internship is a full time position and convey professionalism. To do so, follow the same dress code as the rest of the employees, use proper business etiquette in the workplace and adhere to the expected office hours.
This is something you should be doing throughout the entirety of your internship. Rather than try to connect with everyone on your last day, meet people through the duration of your time with the company. Always use a professional tone and interact with people with which you don't work directly. Also take the time to network with other interns. Remember that even if there's not a full time position available for you with the company after your internship ends, the connections you make may recommend you for another position or pass on their praise.
4. Choose an internship with potential
It's easy to say yes to the first internship that comes along, but consider how the program is structured before you dive in. Some companies may only offer temporary student internships on a rotating basis without having any real intention of hiring on anyone full time. Consider as well if the place you are interning is somewhere you can actually see yourself working afterward.
5. Keep in touch
If your internship ends and a position isn't available at the time, don't get discouraged. Getting offered a full time position after an internship can sometimes be nothing more than a matter of timing. Be persistent and keep in contact with people from the company to stay abreast of any positions that open up. Furthermore, staying in contact helps ensure that if there is an opening, hiring managers may already have you in mind. To stay in touch, make sure you find appropriate and professional ways of asking for contact information near the end of your internship. Moreover, this gives you an opportunity to send your coworkers and employers thank you notes once your internship has come to a close.
If you're trying to find a new job the Internet seems like a logical place to begin. After all, the world wide web is loaded with job boards and company websites, making it easy to fall down the rabbit hole of sending out resumes en masse, squandering away hours hitting send. In some ways, this is a logical human instinct. More sent resumes will lead to more potential phone calls leading to more interviews and then a job offer. However, odds are a significant percentage of your applications get skimmed over if read at all. More so, there are probably hundreds of other applications who have applied to the same position, making it hard for you to stand out in the crowd. At the end of the day, the Internet is an important resource, but should not be your sole line of attack.
Use your network
When you're looking for a job, consider who you know that can help you in your search. Look to family, friends, colleagues, former classmates and other acquaintances for an in. If you find your dream job browsing the Internet, ask yourself if you have any connections to the company. Do you have a friend or family member that works there? Do you have any LinkedIn connections that have worked there previously? Before just sending in a resume willy-nilly, look at the company website. Is the company hosting an event in the near future? If so, attending might be a perfect opportunity to make a connection and score an interview.
Attend professional events
Meeting people in a face-to-face setting is incredibly important when looking for a job. If you sit in front of a computer screen all day filling out applications, you're potentially missing out on opportunities to interact with potential employers. Moreover, isolating yourself during your hunt may dull your social skills and make it challenging to talk with peers and higher ups. Attend professional events such as career fairs regularly to make in person connections and make an impression. Invest in business cards so you have a physical document to give to hiring managers. This will have a lasting impact and encourage name recognition. Request informational interviews for a chance to meet with recruiters and hiring managers one-on-one. Overall, pushing yourself to expand your job search from a computer screen to the real world will help you seek employment more holistically.
It's good practice to get in the habit of sending thank you notes to those who help you during the course of your career, whether it's someone helping you network or an internal contact at a company that pushed your resume to the top of the pile. Yet, what is of utmost importance is always sending a thank you note to those you interview with while searching for a job. This form of recognition does way more than express gratitude to the person or people that took the time to speak with you, but also makes the interview an ongoing conversation. In fact, in some cases otherwise perfect candidates may lose out on a job simply for overlooking this basic matter of etiquette. To ensure you don't lose out on your dream job, here are some tips on sending a thank you note after an interview:
Never write a thank you note in advance
A thank you note should always be personal and customized to relate back to your interview and the company potentially hiring you. Generic thank you notes written in advance come off as lazy and uninterested. Essentially, though you may intend to demonstrate initiative, it comes off as indifferent and fails to further address what was discussed during your interview.
Email or snail mail are OK
A thank you note via email has become an acceptable form for such a document. However, if a company is more traditional, a handwritten thank you note may go a long way. Emails are advantageous when you're trying to communicate quickly, and they are also generally more convenient, whereas handwritten notes may take a day or two to arrive through the postal service. For this reason, handwritten thank you notes should be sent as soon as possible after an interview.
Go beyond saying thank you
While graciousness is important, you taking the time to interview was necessary for the company as well. Besides expressing thanks, you should emphasize memorable details about your interview, continued interest in the available position and your understanding of the next steps in the hiring process. Don't forget to include your contact information as well.
Don't send gifts or use the phone
Sending any type of gift puts a hiring manager in an uncomfortable situation. Avoid mailing anything more than a professionally worded note. Also, don't try to thank a hiring manager via phone call or text message – a phone call will interrupt their busy day and a text message is impersonal and inappropriate.
Many first-time job seekers may not know where to begin when drafting a resume. While there are seemingly infinite templates online, it's important to develop an individualized resume that best reflects your personality and professional achievements. Moreover, many traditional templates still include a mission statement, sometimes referred to as an objective, which has become somewhat outdated in the working world. That is not to say that a mission statement has no place on a resume, but that the philosophy behind the mission statement has evolved. In the past, this space on a resume served the purpose of expressing what a person desired in a position. Today, the act of applying for a particular job speaks for itself, and the mission statement has been redefined as a professional summary. Hence, a contemporary objective would showcase your professional skills, abilities and general esoteric qualities, rather than focus on what you expect from an employer. Put simply, a modern objective briefly and articulately emphasizes what you can bring to the table, not what you are expecting from an employer.
The benefit of a modern professional summary is that it provides a teaser of your qualifications. In today's fast-paced working world, recruiters often only have time to spend a few seconds on every resume, and a professional summary will give them a lot of information in a small amount of space. Consider this component of your resume a written opportunity to give an elevator pitch to a recruiter or hiring manager. Due to the inherent brevity of this portion of your resume, it should be thoughtfully written and edited. If executed correctly, a professional summary can encourage potential employers to look through your resume more thoroughly.
Like any other aspect of your resume, a major con is that a professional summary takes up a fair amount of space. For job seekers new to the workforce, a resume will likely only be one page. However, though you may not have a wealth of professional experiences, adding all of your contact information, leadership experience, education and past positions can fill up this amount of space rather quickly. Once you add all of those necessary elements, it may prove challenging to find enough room to fit a professional summary. Moreover, if this part of your resume isn't well worded and interesting, employers may gloss over the rest of the document. As this portion is generally included at the top of your resume, it will likely be one of the first things a recruiter or hiring manager looks over. Also, because a professional statement is short, you likely won't be able to highlight all of your experiences.
Of course, one option is to disregard the professional summary entirely. Since resumes should be catered to your professional experience, it may not prove necessary to include this aspect. In many situations, a well-drafted cover letter can address the strengths you would usually list in a professional summary in greater detail. However, if you feel your resume seems a little sparse without this portion, consider instead including a list of professional skills. While this concept may be similar to a professional summary, the construction is often executed in a list form rather than a formal statement.
If you decide to include a professional summary on your resume, consider adding this element once the rest of the document has been drafted. This will allow you to look over the entirety of your professional accomplishments and prioritize them into a candid, well-written statement.
When you see an opening or job posting for your dream job, odds are you'll jump to apply immediately. However, don't be too hasty. Remember that sending a sloppy application won't get you anywhere. Rather than worry about submitting your application 20 minutes after the position is posted, focus on working to prove you're a quality applicant. One way of showcasing your interest in the job and demonstrating professionalism is by researching the company beforehand. Not only will this allow you to fill out your application with more background knowledge about the company, but also it will help you better determine if you're actually a good fit for the position. In some cases, what may seem like a dream job at first glance may end up not being what you expected after further research. Here are five tips for doing your research before you apply for a position:
1. Look for recent news about the company
Whether you're applying for a job at a major corporation or a local business, odds are there will be recent news regarding the company about which you should be informed. Not only can this possibly be handy when crafting a cover letter, but also can give you some talking points if you are contacted. A common question asked by recruiters is simply, "What do you know about the company?" To be prepared for such an inquiry, up-to-date news is a good way to show you know what's going on with the company lately.
2. Check out their social media
Social media accounts are often platforms for companies to showcase more personality. While a company's website may be rather dry, their Facebook and Twitter profiles might be more creative and engaging. Furthermore, many companies share news and other developments over social media.
3. Read their mission statement
Every business has a mission statement that will tell you about their goals and beliefs. Company culture is often expressed strongly in the mission statement, so this is a good way to help determine if you're the right fit for a specific position.
4. Locate the name of the hiring manager
Most job descriptions include either the name or position of the person to whom you'd be reporting. Rather than address a cover letter to no one in particular, take the time to locate the contact information of the recruiter, hiring manager or person directly above the position to which you are applying. Overall, this will demonstrate your research and help separate your cover letter from the herd. Looking over a company's staff page also can give you insight as to their managerial structure. Moreover, identifying key hiring personnel gives you an opportunity to research them over platforms such as LinkedIn.
5. Google the company
Odds are that when you apply for a position at a company, they'll take the time to put your name through a search engine if they think you could be a good fit. So it stands to reason that you should use the same practice. Whereas news and social media may generally project a positive image of a company, taking the time to Google them may bring to light information that the company may find undesirable. For example, Glassdoor reviews may illuminate dissatisfaction experienced by people previously in the position to which you are applying. Furthermore, this practice might highlight other potential negative reviews and points of concern. On the other hand, Google might list more positive attributes and help identify that the position is in fact your dream job.
Whether it's your first time constructing a resume or you're dusting it off for the first time in a while, it's imperative to develop a document that's succinct and to the point. A cluttered resume can be challenging for recruiters and hiring managers to sift through efficiently, and that means people in these key hiring positions may overlook qualifications that make you stand out. Think about it like a game of I spy. If you were looking for a specific item on a desk overflowing with papers, pens, knick-knacks and other materials, it might be hard to find what you're looking for. The same goes for a resume. Perhaps an employer is specifically looking for candidates with experience in a particular computer program or social media platform. If this skill is listed on your resume, but surrounded by other skills that aren't pertinent to the job, it may get entirely skimmed over. To avoid this scenario, here are four tips for cleaning up your resume:
It's easy to get bogged down by words. While you want to be specific, over-explaining past positions and previous experiences on your resume can take up a lot of room and make it hard for recruiters to seek out the important details. Eliminate unneeded words and circumlocutory phrasing. When you're looking to remove fluff, ask yourself if each word contributes to the meaning of the information you are presenting. Extraneous language will not only clutter your resume but can also reveal a lack of ability to articulate.
Get rid of outdated information
If you're just entering the workforce, there's likely not too much old information that you'll need to trim. However, still keep your information as current as possible. For those a few years into their career, ask yourself if former credentials relate to the job for which you are applying. Rather than overload your resume with every remotely professional qualification, only include contemporary information that is directly related to the position. Remember that even if a specific role made a big impact on your career, it may not necessarily mean as much to someone looking over your application.
Unclutter your online presence
While your online presence isn't exactly part of your resume, many recruiters and hiring managers take it into account when considering you as a candidate. Remove anything on personal profiles such as Facebook and Twitter that reflect on you unprofessionally. Consider what you want potential employers to see when they type your name into Google or another search engine. Half of the battle is finding information online that can be potentially harmful to your job search. Finding, deleting and managing public information about yourself can take time, but it's worth the investment. Also remember that anything posted on social media, no matter your privacy settings, can likely be seen by a recruiter or hiring manager. Approach public profiles with the mindset that everyone can see them. To really highlight your online presence, consider creating a personal website.
Look at your resume from the viewpoint of a recruiter
Once you've trimmed the fat off your resume, read through and edit it from the perspective of a recruiter. Think about what stands out when you look over your resume objectively. Ask yourself if the professional qualifications you were hoping to highlight are easy to locate. Spend 10 seconds looking at your resume and see what draws your attention in that short duration of time. Also, make sure to have a friend or family member read it over and check for errors in spelling and grammar.
Have you been sending out dozens of paper resumes to no avail? In today's tough job market, it can be a challenge to make your resume and cover letter stand out. Part of the problem for many applicants is that a piece of paper simply isn't enough in the digital age. While your paper resume may showcase a number of your professional skills, it doesn't necessarily do an adequate job of showing off your personality or creativity. However, this doesn't have to hold you back. Rather than continue to send the same old MS Word document, consider creating a multimedia resume to help differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd. Multimedia resumes can usually be added to online job applications either as an email attachment or in the additional information section of your application. Here are three ideas to get you started:
A video resume gives potential employers and hiring managers a chance to have some "face-to-face" time with you before an interview. Moreover, a video resume has the ability to showcase your videography skills and work ethic. A video resume can also potentially demonstrate a professional level of comfort with technology, which is necessary for many jobs in today's workforce. However, remember not to solely submit a resume in this format. Instead, use a video to complement a traditional paper resume, giving employers the opportunity to compare your video with your qualifications on paper.
Providing samples of your work is a great way to prove to employers that you have the ability to accomplish tasks. Work samples that are well-organized in a portfolio can demonstrate professionalism and attention to detail. A portfolio can also highlight initiative, as many employers will potentially ask for work samples when considering a candidate for the job anyway. Again, a portfolio is a great way to complement a resume, because it provides evidence of your listed skills. If your resume says you have experience managing a marketing campaign, deliverables from that campaign included in your portfolio corroborate that information.
Having a portfolio compiled in a document is helpful, but you can take it to the next level by developing a portfolio online. Therefore, employers will be able to easily access your work samples when browsing your online presence. When an employer uses a web browser to search your name, a strong portfolio will ideally be at the top of that search. This also potentially attracts recruiters and employers to you. Many recruiters can only spend a short time looking at each resume due to the high volume. However, these same professionals spend time browsing the Internet seeking out candidates that may be perfect for a specific position.
While developing infographics may seem somewhat specialized, there are a variety of templates available online. Infographics efficiently convey lots of information and provide an aesthetically-pleasing element to stats that might otherwise be cut and dry. For those looking to enter a creative profession, complementing your resume this way might demonstrate creativity and innovation. Furthermore, it will help your application stand out from the stack monotone paper resumes.
No matter what media you choose to use to enhance your resume, remember to meticulously edit all of your application materials and personalize them for each position. Rather than rely on one element of an application to carry you to an interview, make sure you are providing a strong, individualized resume, an articulate, well-edited cover letter, refined multimedia resources such as a portfolio, and a thoroughly filled out application.