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.
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.
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.
Job seekers with a wide range of previous experience often debate whether their resume should be one or two pages. This is an old discussion, but one the requires serious consideration for modern day job hunters. Both the one and two page resume have specific benefits and drawbacks. However, no matter which length you choose, what's most important is focusing on succinctly showcasing your professional skills and goals. Much of this decision is subjective. With that said, a two page resume should never be used just for the sake of length. If you're stuck with a page and a half of job experience and wondering which way to go, here is a basic guide to a one and two page resume:
A one page resume is the standard. Both recruiters and hiring managers are dealing with a larger volume of applicants than ever before, especially since so many application systems allow job seekers to submit documents online. With that said, people in these positions are key to getting you an interview, and since they have so many applicants to sift through, many of them will value a concise resume. Furthermore, if you can highlight skills relevant to the position in this amount of space it will help you quickly attract their attention.
If your resume just barely sprawls onto the second page, consider tweaking it to bring it down to one. If nothing else, this option is much more aesthetically pleasing. There are simple formatting tricks you can use such as changing the font size or adjusting the margins. However, also ask yourself what content on your resume could easily be eliminated. Is there anything on there that seems superfluous? If so it might simply be a matter of trimming the fat to bring your resume down to a more traditional single page layout.
For most young job seekers, one page should be more than enough to suffice. When you're just entering your career, odds are you won't have enough professional experience to warrant two pages. Even if you have a significant amount of academic honors and extracurricular activities, consider if they're relevant to the positions for which you are applying before loading your resume up with them.
A two page resume is generally used for job seekers that have more professional experience and need the space to list all of it. Although, a two page resume has become more popular in the digital age. Computer programs that search resumes for keywords often will rank documents based on the frequency of keywords, and this can lead to a two page resume being ranked higher if these terms are prevalent throughout it. Moreover, since resumes submitted online – assuming they are not printed out – don't require a recruiter or hiring manager to flip the page, these documents have become somewhat more digestible.
On the other hand, a recruiter may look at a two page resume and lose interest due to the length. In these situations, it's possible that the person scanning your resume entirely missed a section that may have earned you an interview.
What's of the utmost importance is making sure all the information on your resume is relevant and up-to-date. If your resume is two pages because it is filled with outdated positions and unrelated roles, it will do little to benefit your standing with recruiters and employers. When you create, edit and update your resume, remember to consider the document from the perspective of the reader. Whether one pages or two, your resume should be appealing to those looking to hire you.
To say technology has altered the way we hunt and apply for jobs would be a vast understatement. This is equally true for employers trying to filter through an expanding pool of candidates across a variety of Internet forums and mobile media. New position openings can receive hundreds of applications online within hours, making it increasingly difficult for potential employees to stand out and get an interview. How do you prove yourself amongst such a large pool? Getting an interview has to go well beyond simply submitting a resume and waiting for a phone call. Employers are now looking for demonstrated abilities and skills that exhibit consistent professionalism across a hodgepodge of platforms. So don't just send your generic resume to the virtual stack and hope for the best. Here are five ways to enhance your resume:
1. Cater to the job
While it's imperative to have a standard resume to use as a starting point, you should not send the same document to every employer. Individualize the content in your resume to align with the job functions for each position to which you apply. This can be done by using keywords found in the job description, highlighting relevant experience and following specific formatting requests.
2. Have additional materials available
If a hiring manager likes your resume, he or she may ask for additional materials, such as a writing sample, portfolio or references. Many applications request these materials from the get go. Have materials edited and prepared for when an employer comes knocking. For example, preparing a resume with visual components to complement your paper resume might come in handy when applying for a job in graphic design.
3. Showcase relevant skills
This tip sounds like a no-brainer, but it requires careful consideration. For example, when applying for a job as a social media manager, demonstrate deft, professional and consistent use of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Proving that you can create quality content and garner followers across these platforms will likely help land the job.
4. Highlight accomplishments
More and more hiring managers are looking for evidence of proven skills and deliverable products. While it's important to list major job responsibilities, employers want to know that you are capable of producing results. Therefore, listing accomplishments demonstrates the ability to finish projects and achieve specific results
5. Be unconventional
Don't be afraid to think outside the box, but make sure it's done in a way that is meaningful and demonstrates initiative. Also, always consider the general disposition of the company. Whereas a young startup design firm might love an infographic resume, an established law firm will probably respond to something more traditional.
Applying for your first job can seem like an alien task. Sure, you've had experience mowing the lawn and doing chores around the house, or maybe you used to babysit for a neighbor. But getting a full time gig is a more formal process. Most businesses have run the gamut when it comes to applicants, so you have to find ways to separate yourself from the stack sitting on the hiring manager's desk. "How do I do that?" you ask. Here are some tips for walking into a business to fill out an application:
Know what time is good to apply
Say there's a great Italian restaurant down the street where you'd like to work as a server during weekends. It's probably a huge red flag when you go in and ask for an application in the middle of their lunch or dinner rush. Find down time when you can go in and fill out an application without being a nuisance. This will also give you the opportunity to speak with a manager. Having face-to-face time with the person potentially hiring you will help make your application stand out.
Dress to impress
Sure you're just filling out an application, but you should dress professionally to show that you want the job. A first impression lasts, and frankly, appearance matters. Don't worry about being overdressed, because it's essentially an impossibility. (No tuxedos though!)
Fill out the entire application
Don't leave blank spaces on your application. Remember, this is your chance to shine. Read the instructions carefully and follow formatting requests. Don't try to embellish your experiences – instead, answer each question thoughtfully and honestly. It's better to put down a realistic, simple job title than trump it up to sound fancy. Avoid vague answers by focusing on concrete experience and affirmative responses. It's better to say no than to seem wishy-washy, and most employers will see answers like "ask at interview" as way of dodging the question. If a question is not relevant to you, fill in the answer space with "not applicable" or "N/A."
Keep the application clean
Don't just crumble up the application in your backpack and fill it out at home while you're eating. Applications that are wrinkled, folded or have stains on them look unprofessional. If you don't have time to fill out each application at the job location, have a binder ready to keep them organized and prevent them from losing that crisp look.
Listing your professional experience into an aesthetically pleasing resume can be a daunting task. Of course, there's always LinkedIn, but the site is more of personal profile and social network than a genuine resume. When it comes time to job hop, you'll want something a little more concrete. Luckily, there are numerous resume building applications out there to help you get started. A resume app is a great way to create a professional document showcasing your accomplishments and skills. However, bear in mind that you should not only take measures to make your resume esoteric, but also cater this document around each position to which you apply. Essentially, you should always have a basic resume highlighting your achievements, but you'll need to individualize it when applying for specific jobs. Use resume apps for the former, and then personalize your well-edited document before seeking out a new job.
Career Igniter Resume Builder
This Android app is a great platform for first-time resume writers. The app is available on tablets and smartphones, making it easy to work on your resume on the go. Moreover, since you can save your document to your mobile device, it's relatively simple to pull up and share at a moment's notice. Career Igniter makes it easy to transfer your resume to Microsoft Word format or email it to yourself. Furthermore, this resume builder has a number of templates for professionals of different experience levels and backgrounds, including specific templates for military veterans and federal employees. The only major setback of this program is that you must follow the template, but this is easily fixed by transferring your resume to MS Word. Personalize your basic resume in MS Word to make it more distinct.
This is another excellent program for those looking to jump into their first real job. Resume Builder is a Windows desktop application that makes resume building a breeze. The program prompts you to fill in pertinent information and then formats it into a basic resume. Similar to Career Igniter, Resume Builder's main downfall is a lack of room for personalization. But if you just need something that looks professionally formatted, Resume Builder is the ticket. After you fill everything out, your resume can be exported as an MS Word document. This then gives you room to individualize your document.
Resume Genius is also a good resource for first-time job seekers. A major advantage of this application is that it offers up thousands of keywords and professional phrases. This will allow those new to the job search with a good base of buzzwords and industry-specific language to begin creating a strong resume. Resume Genius also has templates that can be easily exported as PDFs or docs. The website also has dozens of example resumes to use as a reference guide.
VisualCV is a little more complicated than the previous apps on this list. This application creates a digital resume that is much more expansive than a plain document. You can create and manage multiple resumes directly on the website, adding numerous medias and links as desired. This gives job seekers the ability to integrate links to published works in their resume documents. VisualCV also works to optimize your Google search, so when a potential employer browses your name, your professional credentials are at the top. In this way, VisualCV allows users to create a multimedia resume that not only looks professional, but provides employers directly with work samples and other deliverables.
After you've crafted a perfect resume, you'll be ready to start job hunting confidently.
At times, writing a cover letter can seem like an impossible task. After all, it's a daunting challenge to articulately word why you are best suited for a position on a single piece of paper. While resumes are often crafted and edited over weeks or months, a cover letter is a personal statement directed at the person who's potentially hiring you for a specific position. No wonder it seems like such a tall order to separate yourself from the herd. Hiring managers likely have distinct preferences both in regard to how you word your cover letter and your previous experience. However, there are several basic protocols that you should adhere to whenever writing a cover letter. Here is a quick list of do's and don'ts for crafting a good cover letter:
Do know who you're addressing
The Internet has made it possible to seek out almost anyone in a specific organization. With that said, "To Whom It May Concern" simply doesn't cut it anymore. Not only does it sound impersonal, but it also demonstrates a lack of research and interest in the position. Job descriptions often list to whom you'd be directly reporting or who will be reading through the applications. Address your cover letter to this individual. If the position of the person is listed but not a specific name, browse the company's website and search through the staff directory to find out to whom you should address your cover letter.
Don't repeat your resume
It's really easy to fall into the trap of regurgitating your resume. While these two documents are certainly related, a cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself and emphasize specific accomplishments. Use your cover letter to go into further detail about your professional experiences and show off your individuality.
Even if your resume stands out, you might be discounted for something as little as one spelling or grammatical mistake on your cover letter. Everyone is susceptible to error, but mistakes found in these documents might signify a lack of attention to detail. Proofread your cover letter several times to ensure there are no obvious mistakes. Once you've given it a few reads, ask a close friend or family member to read it as well. It's always good to get another set of eyes on your cover letter, because other readers may catch an error you overlooked.
Don't dilly dally
Make sure your cover letter gets to the point. Don't spend a lot of time funneling toward the point you want to convey. Cover letters are short and precise, and therefore require direct language that commands attention.
Do personalize your cover letter
A cover letter should not be uniform. Every position for which you apply requires different skills and experience. It's imperative to emphasize the aspects of your professional life that make you the right fit for the job. Hiring managers have a knack for identifying cover letters that are mass produced. These form cover letters are usually pretty obvious anyway, because they tend to be broad and omit job-specific language. Do yourself a favor and write unique cover letters for each position to which you apply.
Don't rely solely on a template
Those writing their first cover letter might be tempted to follow an online template. While these resources can be a good starting point, it's important to remember a singular format doesn't necessarily work for everyone. Format your cover letter in the way that most effectively showcases your experience, creativity and professionalism.
Don't forget to follow up
Sometimes a great cover letter and resume will only get you so far. The fact is hiring managers are tasked with sorting through hundreds of applicants, and your materials can potentially get lost in the tumult. Make sure to follow up regularly and reemphasize your interest in the position.
Struggling to make your resume stand out from the pile? Part of the problem might be that it is never even being viewed by a human being. Modern computer programs called applicant tracking systems (ATSs) give employers the ability to search resumes based on keywords. Although you might be able to explain a job duties from past jobs ten different ways, only one of them might get noticed on a resume due to simple vocabulary.
As job seekers now have the ability to apply for a multitude of positions online at a fast rate, employers are exposed to larger stacks of resumes and need a way of efficiently identifying qualified candidates. That's where keywords come into play. These buzzwords are often used regularly throughout a job description and relate directly to the position. Hence, it would be unsurprising if a keyword for a marketing position included "marketing" or "marketed". Using keywords on your resume will increase your chances of separating it from the hoi polloi. Here's a basic guide to making the most of keywords on your resume:
Use industry-specific language
If you are applying for several jobs in one industry, find words that are used commonly throughout a number of position descriptions. For example, if you are applying for a job with a book publisher, using common terms that are found across editing, marketing and production positions in that industry will ensure your resume likely has at least one keyword used by a publisher's ATS. However, this is just a general way of catering your resume to an industry overall, dig deeper by finding keywords that are pertinent to a specific position that will individualize your resume to fit the job title for which you're applying.
Use LinkedIn as a jumping off point
View profiles on LinkedIn of professionals who are currently in a similar role to the one for which you're applying. Find words that commonly appear throughout their profiles and utilize the terms as keywords for your resume. LinkedIn is also a solid platform for researching the different ways professionals label and define their job titles.
Include job functions
Remember that an ATS only searches resumes based on keywords and nothing else. Therefore, it is important to include various past job functions that might seem implicit. That is to say, if you have previously worked as an editor, it might be implied that you have a strong grasp of AP style, but if an ATS is using AP as a keyword, it won't be able to make that leap solely based on your previous job title.
Building up an arsenal of contacts across a hodgepodge of social media is a great way to help you land a job. Networking has gone to the digital sphere, and believe it or not, all those Twitter followers might be your ticket to getting hired. However, the opposite is also true. Sure you might have nailed the job interview, but when the hiring manager Googles you and finds pictures of you doing naked keg stands on Facebook, that opportunity might just fly out the window.
The Internet has become a pivotal tool for job hunters and employers alike, but sometimes it can feel like a desolate wasteland that is only useful for highlighting your most embarrassing moments. The tragic part is (in regard to social networking at least) most of your dirty laundry could probably be deleted or made private. If you just got out of high school or college, put yourself in the shoes of the person looking to hire you. Consider how they're viewing the pictures of you tagging an abandoned warehouse or the tweet in which you made a vulgar joke. Here are some tips for managing a variety of social media sites while job hunting:
Let's start with the obvious. Control your privacy settings to monitor the way employers view your Timeline. Once you have a handle on what people can see, clean up any potentially jeopardizing material. There are plenty of ways around privacy settings, and some employers will simply ask for access to your profile anyway. Remove any risque pictures or inappropriate material. Those beer pong pics might have been a lot of fun to share in college, but they're a major deterrent in the professional world.
Facebook also has space to list your education, previous job titles and professional skills. Showcase your accomplishments so employers can glean professional experience off your profile. Take advantage of the social network you've built on Facebook to inform contacts that you're looking for a job.
Twitter is a great place to develop a personal brand. Tweet often and engage with other users. Twitter is one of the top social media destinations for employers to communicate company updates, so figure out who to follow in your industry. Use Twitter as an open space to share news, talk with colleagues and exhibit a resume. Building a professional reputation on Twitter takes consistency and patience. Tweet links to field-relevant articles, ask questions of people you look up to and develop a personal voice.
Don't use LinkedIn simply as a digital location to copy and paste your resume. Take advantage of LinkedIn by contacting professionals you admire and sharing job news. Remember that LinkedIn is first and foremost a place for professional networking, so it's perhaps the best social media for acquainting yourself with professionals you don't know personally. Make your profile robust, which can be done by seeking out and providing recommendations. Look up hiring managers on Twitter and LinkedIn before going in for interview.
Your resume is a great place to include links to your Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile. Of course, this means that you should be regularly updating and editing your online profiles. If you apply for jobs online, most applications include additional space to add these links. Many employers even request them. This is why it's important to manage and maintain your social media: because employers want to see that you are engaged and professional. There's not really a way to fake being a regular user if you are in fact inconsistent. If you ignore Twitter for six months and then suddenly tweet a lot after applying for a marketing position, all an employer has to do is look up your Twitter handle to see that you're inconsistent.