Five common resume mistakes to avoid

Your resume is more than a list of your past work experience. It is your marketing document that must convince an employer that you’d be a great candidate for the job in just a few short seconds. Here are five common mistakes people make when applying for jobs, and how you can avoid them to stand out from the crowd.

Five of the most common mistakes on a resume

Not matching your resume title to the job title

Right off the top, the title of your resume should match the title of the job you are applying for. If your resume has a different title, it looks like you are applying for a different job. Don’t make the hiring manager try to guess how your particular career title matches up with the position they are hiring for. Make it clear. If you’re applying for the IT Administrator position, send in a resume with ‘IT Administrator’ in the title.

Describing your previous job responsibilities – not your accomplishments

Hiring managers know what job descriptions match your old job titles. There’s little mystery in what an Editor or a Customer Service Representative does. The unique and interesting part is what you alone accomplished in that role. What set you apart? What have you done, learned or accomplished there that can be particularly useful to your potential new employer? Use numbers if you can.

Not tailoring your work history and accomplishments to the job at hand

All of your jobs, community, or voluntary work can potentially be relevant if you can highlight how the skills you learned and used can benefit your new employer. You have to market your transferable skills to the target company’s business needs. (You’ll know what these are from carefully reading the job description you are applying to and researching the company.) Sell your experience. However, cut anything that isn’t relevant.

Listing too many jobs

As much as I said that every job and community activity can potentially be relevant, it is also possible to list too many experiences in your resume. I don’t believe that a resume has to fit on one page, or even on two if you need more space to sell your story. However, everything that is included has to be compelling. Descriptions of irrelevant jobs that you held a decade or more ago will only serve to water down the good stuff. Keep it recent, and cut to the essentials.

If you have relevant accomplishments from older jobs that you think would add value, consider using an ‘Other Relevant Experience’ subsection underneath your recent work history where you can bullet point these wins briefly. (Remember, employers only spend a few seconds on their initial scan of a resume. You want everything they see in that quick glance to be valuable to them, otherwise, you may get tossed.)

Not proofreading

Employers expect new hires to try hard, pay attention to detail, and produce quality work on the job.

What does it say to an employer about a candidate who can’t even present an error-free document when they are most trying to impress them in order to land the job in the first place? That you’re either not that good, or that you don’t care that much. Either way, you won’t be getting the call for an interview.

Proofread. Take a break. Proofread again. Then have someone else proofread it for you. See: How to proofread like a professional editor

Other than typos, the common theme running through all of these common resume mistakes is lack of relevancy. Customize your resume for each job you apply for. Highlight your biggest assets for the employer you are sending it to. Want your application to stand out from the crowd? Use your resume to show how you are a stand-out candidate.

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