A strong resume is one of your greatest assets in the job search. A resume is more than just a record of your past employment and educational background. It’s a targeted marketing tool that, pills if done right, can make you stand out from the crowd and catch the attention of managers and recruiters. Competition for most jobs is stiff, and most resumes are skimmed rather than read. Avoiding these five critical resume mistakes can help keep yours out of the reject pile.
Mistake #1: Not adapting your resume to the specific job you’re applying for. No matter how many resumes you send out, each one must be tailored to match the requirements of the job. If you use a one-size-fits-all resume, you’ll miss opportunities.
Mistake #2: Not including keywords from the job description in your resume. Many companies use an automated tool to scan incoming resumes. If yours doesn’t contain the keywords the machine is looking for, it may never be viewed by a human.
Mistake #3: Including too much content on the resume. Your resume shouldn’t provide complete job descriptions for each of the jobs you list—just the highlights, and especially those highlights that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. When it comes to content, more isn’t always better.
Mistake #4: Using non-standard formatting. Unusual formatting can make your resume stand out…but not necessarily in a good way. Using non-standard formatting might make the reader think you’re not professional or you don’t know what’s expected of you. Find other outlets for your creativity–in most fields, your resume isn’t the place for it.
Mistake #5: Allowing typos, spelling errors, and grammatical errors to remain on the resume. Recruiters and hiring managers are often looking for any possible excuse to eliminate a resume from consideration. You could be the best fit in the world for the job, but if your resume is sloppy, it will likely be discarded. To be safe, ask a friend–or even a professional editor–to proofread your resume before you send it out. It’s well worth the extra step.
Avoiding these common mistakes will take a little extra effort on your part, but it can help set you apart from the competition and pay off in the form of more interviews and, with luck, job offers. Good luck!