TOP RESUME GOOFS TO AVOID 

By: Michael Clegg, Managing Partner Q Works Group

Trash Can

You only have 7 SECONDS to capture the attention of the decision maker.  Based on a Harvard Business Review, September article, you need to get to the point quickly. (https://hbr.org/2020/09/how-to-get-your-resume-noticed-and-out-of-the-trash-bin) With over 50 million people filing for unemployment over the previous 20+ weeks, it has never been more competitive.  You must avoid mistakes on your resume, which will help you make it through the first cut and avoid the “circular file” (trash can).   

TOP 5 RESUME MISTAKES 

  1. TOO TASK HEAVY 
  2. LACKING ACCOMPLISHMENTS 
  3. ONE SIZE FITS ALL 
  4. OUTDATED INFORMATION 
  5. IGNORE APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS 

There are several that we could list but these are what I see most frequently: 

1. TOO TASK HEAVY

Your resume should be about the value that you are going to bring your future employer.  Tasks imply the duties of your previous role.  Employers want to know the results.  Let the interview be about “how” you did it.  Your resume should be “what” you did.

2. LACKING ACCOMPLISHMENTS 

This is what I call the “so what” section.  This is where most resumes have the “task” or “duties” performed listed. However, it is where you tell your story of the above “results”.  These results are often delivered in the form of numbers and percentages.  These items direct the attention of the reader quickly.  The accomplishment that you are most proud of should be the first bullet point.

3. ONE SIZE FITS ALL 

This is the question that I get most frequently “Should I have multiple versions of my resume?”  The answer is YES.  You should have a resume for every job that you apply for and it should be tailored with keywords per the job description. 

4. OUTDATED INFORMATION 

A professional resume should go no further than 10-15 years back.  Anything beyond that is irrelevant or out of date.   I know it’s great that you finished in the top 10% 25 years ago but what have you done for me lately?  There are other ways to capture this data that is less traditional.  There are a few areas, specifically academia, where they may want to see every year of experience.

5. IGNORE APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS 

Some applications will require a call to action.  It could be something simple that says, “please submit a cover letter.  If you don’t follow their instruction, you will automatically be disqualified. 

HONORABLE MENTION RESUME MISTAKES  

Grammarly CEO, Brad Hoover, says the average resume has 5 errors.  That is 5 too many.  Below are additional mistakes that are honorable mentions 

  1. Spelling and grammar issues 
  2. Adding a professional headshot photo to your resume 
  3. Listing an Objective instead of a Professional Summary 
  4. Unprofessional email address   
  5. Missing contact information 
  6. Spray and pray – applying to multiple jobs just because you can 
  7. Unprofessional file/document name  

Keep in mind, resumes are just a ticket to the dance.  In this particular analogy the dance is the interview.  The first goal of a resume should be getting the interview.  It is rare to get a job without some form of interview.  Therefore, the utmost importance needs to be spent on making sure to avoid all the above mistakes.