How to Rectify Common Resume Mistakes
Today’s labor market is fiercely competitive, and job applicants have to worry about their resumes even making it to a hiring manager's desk. A resume first has to pass through the applicant tracking system (ATS), which is a computer program that scans applications and determines whether they’re good enough to make it to the next level (evaluation by a human recruiter).
Many resumes can’t clear the ATS hurdle. Why is that?
You can write your resume yourself, but having an expert put it together can help you avoid common missteps and dramatically increase your chances of landing a great job. If you want that, reach out to a professional resume writer.
If you’d rather tackle this task on your own, here are our tips for avoiding the most common mistakes.
Results, not responsibilities
It’s easy to simply list your responsibilities in the jobs you’ve held and think that it would be enough to show what a great employee you are. However, recruiters don’t care about what you were supposed to do—all they care about is the results you delivered. You may think that listing your responsibilities implies that you were good at discharging them, but don’t leave room for doubt in the hiring manager’s mind—highlight the results of your efforts!
For example, you could say “processed sales reports,” but that’s vague and something anyone else applying for the job might also be able to put on their resume. Highlighting your results would look like this: “Evaluated sales reports to increase sales by 8%.” This isn’t something anyone could write. Unless you show the results of your efforts, even if your resume makes it to the hiring manager’s desk, they’ll have a much harder time seeing your value.
Achievements, not skills
In your skills section, you can list your talents and skills to demonstrate what you can do. However, what recruiters really look for is achievements. Can you prove your skills? If not, they aren’t worth much; after all, anyone can say they have a given skill. It’s just like the age-old advice for authors: Show, don’t tell.
Be specific about your achievements, too. As long as you’re honest, you don’t have to be shy. Sure, you wouldn’t normally boast about all your achievements, but you’re now trying to convince a stranger to give you a job. So, don’t just say, “Supervised a sales team,” which is far too vague. Instead, say something like, “Led a 25-member team to increase revenue by 30%.” This proves how valuable your leadership skills are.
Use your achievements to get your resume on the recruiter’s desk, and impress them once it’s in their hands!
Future worth, not past value
Hiring managers look to your past to determine what kind of worker you’ve been, but what they truly care about is how you will benefit their company in the future. Therefore, don’t waste space listing everything you’ve ever done. Instead, emphasize that your past experience will benefit the company in the long term.
Be discerning about what you include—make sure the information you provide is relevant. In other words, tailor your resume to highlight skills and experience that will be most beneficial to that particular company.
Attention to detail, not negligence
You might think resume formatting doesn’t matter, but it can be a huge deal to hiring managers. Even if your skills, experience, and qualifications are perfect, your resume will probably be overlooked unless it’s properly formatted. A properly formatted resume tells the hiring manager that you’re professional, organized, aware of the latest resume trends, and have a keen eye for detail. Keep it simple, clean, and consistent.
Various factors come into play with formatting. You should use a standard layout that easily directs the hiring manager to the information you most want them to see. Now’s not the time to break out your graphic design skills and dazzle with a creative layout—keep it simple and boring. The same goes for the font, which should be a 10- to 12-point standard font such as Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial. Non-standard fonts might not even be legible to the ATS.
If you want to ensure that your resume makes it past the ATS and reaches the hiring manager, address these common mistakes. Better yet, get help from resume experts. Professional resume writers know how to avoid these common pitfalls and turn your resume into a stepping stone to an interview.