1. Email Errors
One of the most common goofs we see is an incorrect email address. Since most job search efforts are centered around email communications, having an email address that is wrong or difficult to interpret can be a pothole in the road to success. Double-check your email address to make sure it is correct. Don’t use your work email address on your resume and try to avoid having an email that has the number 1 in it as it can be difficult to tell if it’s a letter or a numeral. Avoid goofy or cutesy email monikers such as vanhalenlvr83 or similar. Email systems that use automated spam authenticators are loathed by recruiters and line managers alike, so stay away from them during you job search. Remember, you can set up an email address that you use JUST for job search.
2. Mechanical Mistakes
Misspellings are the most common mechanical mistake. People rely on spell-check too much. Spell-check can’t tell the difference, though, in meaning. If you write “manger” instead of “manager”, spell-check won’t flag it. Other mechanical problems include verb tense shift and capitalization. It seems like when in doubt, job seekers will capitalize something just “to be on the safe side” but that just creates an error.
3. Fluff Phrases
The profile or summary is often the most difficult section of the resume to create. As a result, job seekers fall back on soft-skill phrases or fluff phrases such as “good communicator” or “hard-working”. These sound good but they tell the reader nothing. These are subjective traits that are opinion-based. You may think you are a good communicator but your peers might say otherwise. These traits will be judged in the interview so don’t load the resume down with these. Remember, 99.9% of all the other candidates will also be claiming these skills. Have you ever heard of anyone putting “bad communicator” or “lazy with sloppy attention to detail” on the resume?
4. Too Much Information (TMI)
Job seekers often forget for whom they are writing. The recruiter or hiring manager is going to be skim-reading the resume and will be looking for the main points. The job seeker, on the other hand, feels it’s necessary to put every bit of information possible in the resume, right down to including that Eagle Scout designation from 1984. Having too much information, or irrelevant information, is a common resume error.
5. Too Little Information (TLI)
The opposite of TMI is TLI – too little information. Being too general in the resume is just as bad as being too wordy. Usually too little information takes the form of no details on achievements. Most people can get their job duties or role descriptions down but falter when it’s time to detail their successes in some sort of quantitative or qualitative way. As a result, the content is thin or bland and doesn’t inspire the reader to make contact with the job seeker.
6. Passive Voice
We are all taught that formal writing is passive voice writing. Most people have a tendency to write in the passive voice, especially when composing their resumes. Passive voice – “responsible for”, “duties included”, etc. – is weak writing. Resumes need to be powerful sales documents and passive voice doesn’t persuade the reader. Make sure the resume is written in active voice with lots of solid keywords throughout the content.
7. Functional Format
Using the functional format (also called a skills resume) is probably the most deadly error you can commit in terms of the resume’s effectiveness. Recruiters and employers literally detest the functional format. It does not give them the information they need in the format they want. Additionally, it generally indicates that the job seeker is trying to hide something since the functional format is used to cover up problems such as date gaps, job hopping, or lack of experience. Just the mere appearance of the functional format is a huge turnoff to decision-makers.
8. Personal Information
The fact that you are an avid skeeball player, or that you collect old world coins has no relevance to whether or not you are qualified for the position. So why include information on hobbies, sports, or interests?
9. Poor Design
The old large-left-margin layout is long out of fashion and fancy designs, images or tables will really give the databases a hard time when you upload your resume. The best thing to do when it comes to design of your resume is KISS – keep it simple, sweetie. Yes, make it appealing, but over designed resumes will get scrambled in uploads, and thus not win interviews.
10. One Page Length
One page resumes are long gone unless you are a new graduate without much experience. Having said that, we still see plenty of one page resumes for more senior job seekers come in for critiques. It does surprise me! When a job seeker tries to limit the content of the resume to fit into one page, he/she is cutting vital information to adhere to a “rule” that is not valid for most resumes. Many resumes (including mid-level) are two pages in length and three pages are acceptable for some senior level candidates.