Often, the most common reasons a resume gets thrown out are also the easiest mistakes to avoid. Here are a few things to watch out for when you’re writing your resume to maximize your chances of getting called in for an interview:
1. You’re not actually a fit for the job
The first thing to do when you’re hunting for jobs is to make sure you would actually be a fit for that position. Do you meet all of the minimum qualifications? And have you made it clear that you do? Make sure that you’re being explicit about having the skills and qualifications that they’re asking for, because making the information hard to decipher is only doing you a disservice.
Another part of making it clear that you’re a good fit for a position is tailoring your resume. Read the job description carefully and write your resume using important words and phrases from it. For example, if a job description lists teamwork as an important skill to have in a candidate, write an accomplishment statement detailing working on a team to achieve a specific outcome. Hiring managers often will only look at each resume for a few seconds, so don’t be afraid of being extra-obvious.
2. Your resume is unprofessional
There’s a fine line to walk between making your resume unique and having it become unprofessional. Definitely avoid pictures and art, unless you’re in a field like graphic design and you know for a fact that an artistic resume is expected. Even then, look up examples of resumes for your field and see what kind of design is expected. Also avoid funky fonts and colors, as they can make your resume harder to read and annoy a hiring manager.
If you’re wondering how to spice up your resume, definitely focus on the formatting. Feel free to use bold and italics, different font sizes (within reason), and play with the actual layout of your resume. You may be tempted to use a resume template, but it is strongly recommended that you don’t because you won’t have as much freedom with how it looks and they often turn out bland.
3. You didn’t spend enough time on it – and it shows
A huge turn-off to hiring managers is a lack of attention to detail. Spelling and grammar errors are especially bad, and many recruiters will toss your resume at the first error they encounter. Don’t rely on spell check to catch everything (it definitely doesn’t), instead actually read through your whole resume and have other people read through it as well. It’s always good to have multiple sets of eyes on your resume to catch mistakes that you might have unwittingly missed.
Another sign that you didn’t spend enough time on your resume is if you’ve used a lot of clichés and vague statements. So many people say things like “hard worker”, “team player”, or “innovative thinker” – but don’t offer any proof. Use your accomplishment statements to prove that you have these qualities. Instead of just saying “team player”, detail a time when you worked with a team of people to achieve something. Be as quantitative as possible, because hiring managers are much more likely to be impressed with numbers and concrete facts about what you’ve accomplished. Quantitative accomplishment statements do take some time and may seem overwhelming, but they’ll be well worth it in terms of making you stand out from the crowd.
Be patient with the process of building your resume. Good resumes take time to make, but the time spent will benefit you in the end when you get called in for an interview.
Posted by Deirdre Newton, Career Services Assistant