When people ask us at Jobinsight how they should go about writing their résumé, we always tell them to think of the résumé as an advertisement whose primary motive is to convince the employer (reader) that you are worth interviewing for the job. Like any good advertisement, you need to make sure you address the exact needs of the audience so as to create an immediate impact that resonates with the reader. A great résumé doesn't just tell them what you have done, it presents you in the best light. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career.
Almost all of the résumé mistakes made germinate from the fact that is this approach is not kept in mind when drafting the document. The biggest résumé mistakes many job applicants make are as follows:
1. Including extraneous and irrelevant information
Most job applicants fail to understand the importance of brevity and clarity in outlining their credentials and work experience. Everyone thinks it is an absolute must to include every single detail possible of their past experiences, because heaven forbid the employer won’t know about that time you were a camp counsellor or you worked on that college project completely unrelated to the job you are applying for.
Also, stating hobbies on your résumé must be treated as an absolute taboo, unless you have done something significant or noteworthy with those hobbies. Remember, a recruiter needs to sift through hundreds of résumés and if yours contains vast amounts of irrelevant content, then it is definitely going into the garbage pile.
2. Using wordy sentences
Being verbose is one of the cardinal sins of writing a résumé, or any prose for that matter. By being too wordy, job seekers end up using more words than are necessary to convey an idea, causing the reader to take more time than necessary to follow your thoughts, causing immense confusion. Not only is a verbose résumé difficult to read, it is visually unappealing.
There is no clear solution to solve the verbosity problem. It takes someone with good command over the language to be able to convey ideas in a concise and clear manner. One can begin by getting their résumé double-checked by friends or family, who have an excellent command over the language. Also remember, the length of the résumé must be restricted to one page, no matter what. Frankly, as a recruiter myself, I cringe every time I come across resumes that are two or three pages long, because it’s simply too much of an effort when you still have a pile of 50-100 more to scour over.
3. Making basic grammatical errors
Grammatical errors show poor communication skills and laziness on the part of the candidate. With regards to résumé writing, the following are the most common mistakes employers immediately catch:
-Writing in first person ("me" or "I")
-Inconsistent tense usage — switching between present and past tenses
-Punctuation errors — missing or misplaced commas, apostrophes, semicolons, etc.
Grammatical errors, unlike wordy sentences, are easily avoidable/amendable if the applicant takes the trouble to triple-check their résumé and get a third party to do the same.
4. The résumé is not just a list!!
Many applicants treat the résumé as simply a list of activities and qualifications, but it needs to be so much more than that. You can’t have, for instance, a billboard of a Budweiser beer commercial simply list out the beer's qualities and expect to create any real impact on people.
A good résumé, like a good commercial, needs to be structured properly with a purpose. Poor formatting or pattern makes it unappealing and hard to read. The order that we at Jobinsight generally recommend applicants follow, especially if they are graduating fresh out of college, is:
Personal Information- Includes name, address, email, and phone, right at the header of the résumé.
Career Objective Statement (optional) - Include the type of position or occupational field you wish to enter, your special interests, skills, and experiences or immediate and long-term goals.
Education: List out educational institutions you have graduated from, post-secondary degrees received, and date earned or dates enrolled in reverse chronological order. Include major, minor, area of concentration or specialization, along with results.
Experience/Work History: Include employment, fieldwork, student teaching, internships, volunteer work, etc. List position title, employer or setting, city, state, and dates held (in reverse chronological order). Emphasize your responsibilities, accomplishments, and skills.
Academic projects: List out major courses, research-work, organizations, and projects you have carried out during your education which are related to the job you are applying for.
Leadership experience: List out any leadership roles you have taken in college or in past jobs. Highlight your roles, responsibilities, and results achieved under your responsibility.
Honors: List out any relevant awards and scholarships received in the past
Additional information: List out certifications, licenses, memberships to professional associations, military or community service experience, computer skills (software and hardware), languages, etc.
References: Include a statement indicating that references are available upon request. Never include names of references on the résumé. If an employer requests a list of references, enclose a reference sheet.
Never approach résumé writing generically. Always remember to approach it keeping the perspective of the recruiter a top-most priority, so that in effect, you will be the employer’s top-most priority when being considered for the job. Be sure to check out our knowledge center page at Jobinsight for more information.