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7 Resume Mistakes to Avoid: Boost Your Job Chances

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The adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds especially true for your resume. It’s your initial opportunity to showcase your qualifications, skills, and work ethic to potential employers. A well-crafted resume effectively highlights your achievements and professional journey, setting the stage for your candidacy. Ensuring clarity, relevance, and impact in this document is crucial, as it paves the way for career opportunities and interviews. In a competitive job market, your resume must stand out and affirm your suitability for the position from the first glance.

A perfect resume is not always about what is (or should be) included. Sometimes perfection is about what to leave off your resume.  Simple as this sounds,  many job search candidates are not aware of items they should exclude. Following are some tips.

Resume Mistakes to Avoid

  • Generic Objectives: Avoid vague statements. Tailor your resume to each job, highlighting how your skills align with the role’s requirements.
  • Irrelevant Work Experience: Only include past roles and achievements relevant to the job you’re applying for to keep your resume focused and concise.
  • Lack of Quantifiable Achievements: Enhance your resume by quantifying your accomplishments, and demonstrating your impact in previous positions with specific data.
  • Poor Formatting: A cluttered or hard-to-read resume can be off-putting. Use clean lines, bullet points, and appropriate fonts to improve readability.
  • Spelling and Grammar Errors: Such mistakes suggest a lack of attention to detail. Always proofread your resume or have it reviewed by others.
  • Too Long: Aim for conciseness. A one-page resume is ideal for most applicants, extending to two pages only for those with extensive relevant experience.
  • Using Clichés: Avoid overused phrases like “hard worker” or “team player.” Instead, provide concrete examples that demonstrate these qualities.
  • Listing Duties Instead of Achievements: Focus on what you’ve accomplished in your roles, not just your responsibilities.
  • Failure to Tailor: Customize your resume for each application to show you’ve researched the company and understand the role.
  • Personal Information: Exclude details like age, marital status, or photos, as they’re not relevant to your professional qualifications and can introduce bias.

1. Your Picture:

As pretty or handsome as you may be, you should not include your picture on your resume unless you are a model or actor.  You will not be evaluated based on your appearance, but rather on your skillset and experience. A photo on your resume will most likely lead to your resume being tossed.

2. References:

It’s probably best to leave references off of your resume and not include anything (or just indicate “References provided upon request”). You may want to use different references depending on the job and company.  You also may want to exclude certain references depending on the circumstances. Most important, is checking with references before you offer up their name, telephone number, and email address to ensure they are okay with providing a reference. Even if they’ve provided references in the past, there may be reasons why they are not willing to give a reference now.

3. Grammar and Spelling:

Spell checks don’t always work as planned and grammar checkers even less so. If your resume has basic typographical errors it is highly unlikely that you will get an interview. Even if you’ve checked your resume several times, there is still a chance that you have some errors or have maybe phrased something that could be hard to understand.  The best method for proofreading your resume is to have a friend or relative check it for errors.

4. Compensation Information:

The inevitable “How much do you make?” will come up during the interview process. Including your salary and bonus on your resume can compromise your bargaining power should you get offered the position. If, as an example, you are looking for a great opportunity and you would be okay with a similar salary, you could price yourself out of the job if the hiring manager does not think they can improve on your compensation. Additionally, you never know who will get their hands on your resume – do you want everyone to know how much you make?

Example of a response to “How much do you make?”

“I’m more focused on finding a role that aligns with my career goals and offers a competitive compensation package based on the market rates and my experience. Could you share the range budgeted for this position?”

5. Format:

Your resume should stand on the content (your experience), not fancy graphics. Stick with one font, don’t overuse bold, and leave out underlines.  That being said, your resume should look perfect. Spacing should be even, indents should be consistent and the overall format should not look sloppy.

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6. Dates:

Don’t include the year you graduated college or High School. And you should leave out the year you were born as well. This information is not pertinent to the job or your experience.  While discrimination is illegal, don’t include information on your resume that is not necessary.

7. Other Stuff to Consider:

  • Inappropriate email account names
  • Your work email address
  • Abbreviations
  • Personal information (ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, etc.)
  • Reason(s) for leaving prior jobs
  • An “Objective”
  • Hobbies
  • Don’t hand out your current work business card (unprofessional)
  • Your GPA
  • Irrelevant job experience
  • Political affiliation
  • Physical characteristics
  • Skills or software that is a given (such as Microsoft Office)
  • Buzzwords (go-getter, strategic thinker, hard worker, etc.)
  • Lies
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