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Most people don’t really like putting together a resume. Writing about yourself is rarely easy, and when you have to try to “sell yourself” by talking up accomplishments, it can be even harder.
Because of this, people tend either to toss a resume together quickly without putting much thought into it, or obsessing over every little detail. Either way, they end up making the mistake of including information that no employer really wants to read about.
How bad is it? There are so many errors on resumes, that CareerBuilder holds an annual survey of the “Most Outrageous Resume Mistakes Employers Have Found“. Most “mistakes” in the application process occur in resumes. The worst part about screwing up your resume by including unnecessary information (or errors) is that it will likely be the only thing a potential employer sees. Why? Because no one wants to interview someone who can’t even get their resume right. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid.
Including your interests and hobbies:
A resume is meant to show your work and education, not what you like to do on weekends, but all too often people include information about how they enjoy basket-weaving, swimming, or going to the movies. The justification most people use for including these things is that they think it will help to show they are a “well rounded” person. The only reason you would include hobbies or other interests on your resume is becuase it is professionally relevant. For example, you can you enjoy swimming if you are applying for a job as a physical trainer. It is best to either find a way to list relevant career interests under your experience or save it for the interview.
Listing all of your primary education schools:
If you’re a high school student and you’re applying for a job a local retail chain, include your high school under education. You can even note any amazing accomplishments you’ve had there if you want, but you don’t need to. There’s no reason to ever list your middle and grade school information. If you’re a college graduate, never put any schools on your resume before college, there’s just no reason to do so. If you graduated high school but have not attended college, you can probably get by without an education section.
Writing an objective:
Objectives on resumes were once very popular (and somewhat expected). Whether or not to include an objective is a bit of a bone of contention, but the general consensus is to leave this out. Having one is an old idea and just adds clutter to your resume. Most hiring managers want to see that you have experience in doing the job, not that your goal is to gain experience. You want your resume to show what you can offer them, not what you’d like them to offer you. Consider putting a summary statement or, if you are looking to save space, just start with your experience.
Having salary expectations:
Most experts will tell you to avoid discussing salary requirements during an interview until the last interview round. It does not make any sense to include this information on your resume. Discussing how much compensation you want to be paid is a challenging conversation at best. It’s better to let them tell you what they’re willing to pay first and then negotiate from there if necessary. If your resume includes a salary number that’s higher than what they feel the job deserves, chances are you won’t get an interview at all. Or worse, you could end up low-balling yourself if they see you’re willing to accept a salary lower than what they were planning to offer.
Dating things besides your work history and education:
The only things you should date are your education and work experience. There’s no need for dates for extracurricular activities in college, volunteer work or professional organizations – just list them. Most hiring managers will probably barely look at them unless they see something that interests them or specifically pertains to the job and then they’ll just note that you have the experience. If you feel they’re important enough to date them, they should probably be listed under your work experience.
Gaps in your resume is a big red flag. If you were involved in various organizations between paying jobs, listing these items is fine. Without lying, it’s always wise to close these gaps to the best of your abilities using whatever experience you have. This is just one great reason why it’s smarter to use the title “Experience” rather than “Employment Experience” or “Work Experience.” Another way to make gaps less noticeable is to only include your years of employment rather than specific months.
Saying “References are available upon request”:
People think they are covering their bases by adding this, but it’s just more unnecessary clutter. You don’t need to tell a prospective employer that you will allow them to see your references if they ask – that’s an expectation! This isn’t quite as bad as actually listing your references on your resume, but there’s no need to do it.
Remember, your resume is the first thing a prospective employer will see and in order to sell yourself it should be presented in as concise a manner as possible. This means sticking to a single page in most situations (unless you have more than ten years of experience) and not wasting their time with information they won’t really care about. Spend your time tailoring your resume to make sure it shows them that you will meet the position’s specific requirements.
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Good luck in your search,