There’s a lot of resume advice out there. Some good, a lot bad. Why not take some advice from people who help you get jobs?
Makes sense to us.
We spend a lot of our time reviewing resumes in order to match candidates to great jobs. And doing so, we’ve come up with a simplified list of some of the top mistakes we see all the time. We often get on the phone with candidates and ask them to tweak some of these resume mistakes and see them go on to land amazing jobs.
Are you making any of the mistakes listed below? Read on to find out!
Typos and grammatical errors
Ok, yes, everyone knows this one but we had to include it because it is a huge deal breaker. It’s understood that resumes are looked-over and polished 100 times before sending them to employers, and if you miss a mistake on your resume, the notion is that you’ll probably miss mistakes at work, too.
Try this: before sending your resume to employers, have a family member or friend read over it first. It’s not always easy to catch your own mistakes, but a friend will have a fresh set of eyes.
Listing duties instead of accomplishments
Copy and pasting your previous job descriptions on your resume isn’t going to do you any favors. Nothing about that helps you to stand out and it also doesn’t tell employers what you accomplished while on the job.
Instead, try thinking of the differences you made while working at your previous job. Did you streamline any processes, take on big projects, or manage a team? Write about it!
Not including strong data/number/performance indicators where appropriate
Going off of our last point, it’s a great idea to keep a list of personal metrics on hand to include within your resume later. Say you grew the revenue your team generated by 20% last year, that’s impressive – include it! Maybe you created 15 new processes that streamlined business functions – add it!
What we’re saying here is that numbers stand out. They tell future employers exactly what you accomplished in the past and what you can potentially do for them in the future. So, if you can include your own personal metrics on your resume, do it!
Failure to tailor your resume to the job description
Most people don’t just apply to jobs with a singular job title. Say you’re coming from an account management role and would be happy to land a new job in account management, but you’d also be open to roles in project management. While your experience hasn’t changed, your resume typically should (unless you’re applying from Scouted where we tell employers why you’d be a great fit for either role).
The thing is, if someone who’s hiring for a project management role reads a resume who seems like they’re actually looking for an account management role, that’s an easy way to get filtered out of a resume pile. Instead, do your best to tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for. Take a deep look at the job description to see how it would work within your resume.
Making your resume too long
The rule of thumb here at Scouted is that if you have less than 10 years experience, keep your resume to one page. In fact, we’ve seen employers automatically turn down people with less than 10 years of experience with over 1 page resumes.
Even if you feel like you have a lot of information you want an employer to know about you (much) more often than not, a resume that’s over 1 page simply seems to ramble about things that aren’t particularly relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Instead, as we stated above, tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to and if some of your previous experience isn’t relevant, think about either leaving it off or cutting down that section to make more room for your experience that is relevant.
Founder tip: The space you allocate on your resume should be proportionate to your time spent at a job. Think – more real estate for places you were at for a longer time, gained the most experience, etc.
Adding an irrelevant “skills” section
This is often one of the unimportant sections that make a resume run longer than it should. In this day and age, most employers will assume that you know basic computer functions, so feel free to leave Microsoft Excel off your resume. And, you may have great leadership skills, but if you’ve mentioned how you’ve lead teams and made a difference in your workplace in the experience section above, a hiring manager will gather that themselves rather than taking your word for it in the “Skills” section of your resume.
When should you have a skills section on a resume?
We typically tell candidates that special certificates and training can be mentioned in the “Skills” section. If that’s not you, better just leave it off. However, a “Skills” section can actually be really important for technical resumes to show the languages/programs you know and can also be useful if you’re concerned about being picked up by ATS (applicant tracking systems).
The main idea here is that you want to include programs/products/skills that are unique and make you stand out versus simply saying you know how to use email and write in Word.
Not using strong action words
It’s no secret that hiring managers are looking for effective people to join their teams. if you start each of your experience descriptions with “Worked on…”, “Was responsible for…” none of your experience will seem exciting or particularly unique to hiring managers. Instead, start each job experience section with a strong action word that describes what you accomplished in your previous role. Need some help thinking of strong action words? Check out this list, here.
We get it, it can be easy to overthink your resume and try to do anything possible to make it stand out. We’re here to say that, unless you are going after a creative role, try to keep the formatting of your resume simple and easy to read. In fact, our founders have reviewed hundreds of thousands of resumes and this resume template is their favorite. Why not try it on for size?
Founder tip: Save your resume and share it as a PDF. This ensures your resume will look the way you intended it for all audiences.
An objective or summary section
We’ll keep this section short and sweet. An objective or resume summary section is basically a reiteration of your cover letter. Summary sections tend to be useful in 2 cases. 1) you have a non-linear career path and you need to synthesize your story to make it clear to the reader and 2) if you want to switch careers. If neither of these situations apply to you, it’s probably best to leave it off. It’s simply another section distracting from your experience and unnecessarily lengthening your resume.
Not telling a clear story or career path
What many job seekers don’t realize is that hiring managers read resumes to get a clear picture of a candidate’s career path. They want to know why you want the job.
So, before submitting your resume to job boards, read over it to see if your career path makes sense. Have a friend do the same. See if it makes sense to them that you’re applying for the roles you’re applying to. If it doesn’t make sense, I try mirroring some of the language in the job descriptions you’re applying to. Ask yourself how your experience would make you great at those jobs. If you’re able to communicate that, that your resume will make much more sense.
Bonus founder tips from Jax:
- Add taglines for companies you worked for that are not well known or “brand names.” Ie. if you worked for Chelsea & Associates, a hiring manager will probably have no idea what industry that’s in. So, on your resume, try writing something like Chelsea & Associates A Boutique Law Firm to give hiring managers more context to your experience.
- If you can, add a hobby or interest section to make yourself stand out as more human to hiring managers. It may feel like a breath of fresh air after sorting through 100s of resumes.