The resume: gateway to your future, toll booth on the road to success, and many more interesting metaphors. Whichever way you look at it, your resume is the key to landing a great job. However, even though this is a widely recognized fact, I still see resumes come across my desk with glaring errors and obvious problems. With this in mind, I've compiled a list of the biggest five resume mistakes that I see which are easily preventable.
Here's the list I've put together (in no particular order):
Top Five Resume Mistakes
- Forget to include your contact information. This seems silly, but it happens more often than you might think, especially on resumes submitted through an Internet form. ALWAYS double check to make sure you have all your appropriate contact information on your resume. This includes the following: Name, address, phone number (cell, home, or both, just make sure you can be reached at it), and email address (necessary in today's workplace). Key points: Remember to always include this information, and to always make sure it's up to date.
- Use an inappropriate personal email address. For example, if your college email address was "email@example.com" then this would not be acceptable to put on your resume. This is exactly the wrong kind of impression to give your potential employer. When it comes down to you and another candidate, you don't want them thinking of you as "the kegmaster". My advice is to get a new email address to use for your resumes (it is extremely easy to get any number of web email addresses), and use the following format: first name.last name@generic provider.
- Lie about your experience/skills. Obviously, you shouldn't make up jobs on your resume. What I'm trying to get at here is twofold: lying about your position or responsibilities, and lying about your skill set. A good example of the first one is to say that you were the store manager when in reality the actual store manager left you in charge for 15 minutes once when he went to lunch. To the second point, an example of this would be to say that you are a database expert when in reality you've probably just used something that might have had a database attached to it. These kinds of lies may get you in the door, but eventually they'll push you right back out. Remember: When you lie on your resume, someone ALWAYS finds out, even if it takes awhile.
- Go over two pages. This is an age old debate. How long do you make your resume? In my opinion, you should try to keep it to one page if possible. Employers don't have time to sort through a book of your accomplishments. This also makes you highlight your best qualities and experience rather than drowning them out in a sea of other information. However, with that being said, it is acceptable to go over one page in the following instance: to put additional skills on your resume. Mainly this is for technical skills, but don't cut something out that will help you get that job. If you're going over a paragraph into a second page, stop and evaluate what you're doing. Don't use a second page just because you can, only use it if you really need the space to sell yourself. Bottom line: Never go over two pages, that's the quickest way to get your resume placed in the nearest circular file.
- Provide poor references. With this one, you are basically shooting yourself in the foot, maybe both feet. An employer will call a reference to put a face to the experience you have put on your resume. A good reference will lock the job up for you. A bad reference will place you in the "don't call us, we'll call you" category. What makes a bad reference? A bad reference is not just someone who doesn't like you, it's also is someone who doesn't know you well or really didn't work with you. A key point to remember is to ALWAYS ask your references first before you put them down. This way, they are not surprised when they get a call and you can get a feel for if you really want them to be one of your references.
Okay, I know I said top five but I have to sneak a sixth one in here:
- Spell-checking. If you don't spell-check your resume, don't even bother turning it in. Once I see rampant bad spelling and grammar, that's the end of the interview process for you. Read over your resume and spell check it thoroughly, you don't want something like spelling to lose you that job.
Overall, when writing your resume keep in mind that you are selling yourself. Take the extra time you need to really make you stand out to your potential employer. Falling into any one of the traps above immediately sends a bad message and shows that you didn't take the time to thoroughly go through your resume. If you can't nail your resume, how can you be expected to perform well at the job you are applying for?