On the Job

5 resume mistakes to avoid

A great resume is a must-have in today’s competitive job market. Along with a cover letter, it should tell the story of who you are and what kind of employee you’ll be. And with employers often bombarded with hundreds of applicants, it may be your only chance to make a good first impression.

As a Director of Clinical and Vocational Services with employee-benefit provider Unum, Deborah Ainscough managed the Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants who help people transition back to the workforce after a long illness or injury. She and her colleagues have seen thousands of resumes and know that it’s critical to avoid common mistakes. Here are her top five resume busters to avoid:

The dreaded typo

Whether misspellings, formatting or grammar mistakes, one of the first things employers will look at is whether you’ve cared enough to double-check your resume before sending it in. Be sure to proofread and edit your resume thoroughly, and then have someone you trust do it again.

Bonus tip: Avoid abbreviations, especially when talking about a former job. Many companies and industries have their own lingo and your prospective employer may not know what you’re talking about.

The resume ‘book’

Remember the hundreds of resumes that employers will be looking at? They don’t have time to read your five-page resume. Make sure your resume only hits the high points of your career and illustrates the breadth of experience you have. Employers will appreciate the brevity of a one- or two-page resume and you’ll have the opportunity to tell them more once you’re called in for an interview.

Bonus tip: Consider using bullets instead of long paragraphs to list out skills, talents and other details where it makes sense. Not only will it be easier to read, but you’ll be emphasizing key details about you.

Exaggeration

We all want to put our best foot forward, but don’t let your eagerness to please result in stretching the truth. Talk about your experience and skills honestly and don’t oversell yourself. Employers are good at sniffing out those that reach too far in their resume. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Irrelevancy

Remember, when you’re applying for a job be sure that the resume you submit includes details about your skills and experience that are relevant to the job in question. Emphasize details about you and your skills that align with the job for which you are applying. Remove those items that don’t apply.

Breaking confidentiality

You may have worked with this fantastic client or done a bang-up job on that legal brief. But remember – if the work is confidential, keep it under wraps. Instead, find a way to talk about the experience in general terms. You’ll get your point across that you have mad skills while keeping the details confidential.

Bonus tip: Keeping it close to the vest goes for information about you as well. Don’t include your Social Security Number, birthday or other confidential information on your resume. Only provide that when asked … and required.

Moving your resume from good to great may require a little more homework on your end, but if it gets you through the front door, the time you invested will be well worth it.

 

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