We’ve all been warned about common resume mistakes—typos and other mechanical problems, inconsistent verb tense and capitalization, inappropriate formats, and lying. Here are a few other resume-writing blunders to avoid when making that important first impression.
1. Don’t use a vague objective.
If you choose to include an objective on your resume—I would recommend stating it in the cover letter—be sure that it’s specific and relevant. Your objective should be targeted to the exact position and industry to which you’re applying. Many people waste five to seven lines with a generic wish list of what they’re looking for. Instead think of your objective as a branding statement. What would you say about yourself in your 60-second elevator pitch?
2. Distinguish between what you do versus what you’ve done.
Your resume shouldn’t read like a job description. Most HR professionals have a sense of what a financial analyst or a PR assistant does. This is about showing versus telling. Your goal is to demonstrate measurable successes to the greatest extent possible. Even if you aren’t in a quant-heavy position or industry, you can still quantify your experience. Maybe you reduced your marketing budget by 10 percent from the previous year while helping generate revenue growth, or you coordinated and executed a series of events that reached a total of 100,000 potential customers. Think about ways to show the impact of your work.
3. Avoid too much industry jargon.
Your resume shouldn’t require an interpreter. Even if most HR executives have a sense of what your day-to-day role is, they may not be familiar with the nuances of your industry, particularly if it is highly specialized. To the extent possible, avoid jargon if you can more plainly explain a given concept. Also avoid using company-specific acronyms. Your firm may have a special internal name for the weekly sales report, but you’re better off just calling it what it is.
4. Include hidden transferable skills.
Don’t be afraid to use the job description for a role to which you’re applying to inspire phrasing. Recruiters and hiring managers will be looking for certain buzzwords or key phrases in your resume based on the description they wrote. Highlight your relevant experience by taking the time to tailor your resume accordingly.
5. Be careful of a lack of punch.
In today’s competitive job market, it’s critical to stand apart from your peers. Let’s face it: Resumes aren’t exactly the most interesting reading material. A successful resume is one that demonstrates your strength in written communication and differentiates you from other candidates. Make yours more attractive by varying verb use. A few of my underutilized favorites are maximize, facilitate, and collaborate. Still stuck? Use your thesaurus to expand your vocabulary.
Have another resume-writing mistake to avoid? Got the “in” on great tips to make your resume more competitive? Share with us in the comments!
Ask Levo Chief Leadership Officer Tiffany Dufu for some killer resume tips!
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