As a recruiter, I have seen many applicants make these five mistakes over and over. And the worst part is that they are usually fairly simple to fix! With the job market slowly opening again after the pandemic lets make sure you’re not falling to these common pitfalls.
#1: Not Listing Your Most Relevant Skills And Experiences
This is a common mistake that stands out among the thousands of resumes submitted to recruiters. As a recruiter, I am often disappointed that I can’t offer an interview based on an applicants resume. The resume is often filled with things that would be considered a nice-to-know experience but, at the end of the day, will not set you apart from other applicants. Lets take an example from a real world resume:
- “Responsible for the implementation and operation of a network infrastructure network consisting of over 1000 active hosts throughout the United States.”
Sure this is interesting but it won’t get your resume more than a glance. Lets look closer at improving this sentence to a more favorable outcome:
- “Responsible for implementing and operating a network infrastructure with over 1000 active hosts throughout the United States.”
In this case I know that the applicant has experience in managing an enterprise level network. They have experience in setup and maintenance of routers, switches, and other hardware. Typically this is a “must have” for many employers. I can call the applicant right away and at least make a phone screening.
By using more specific keywords on your resume you will immediately start to stand out among the crowd of applicants. For example:
- “Managed enterprise level network infrastructure consisting of over 1000 active hosts throughout the United States.
- “Implemented a network infrastructure of over 1000 active hosts throughout the United States.”
Note: This is not meant to be used as the sole method for determining which skills are most relevant. The process of determining high level job-relevant skills is an entirely different topic. In fact, researching your target company and what they need should be at the top of your priority list! Rather, this is merely a way of determining the relative value of various skill sets.
#2: Not Quantifying The Impact Of Accomplishments
The biggest mistake I see on resumes is not quantifying accomplishments. It’s actually easy to do, too. Just take a sentence or two that describes your major accomplishment and break it down into measurable items. See if you can quantify your contribution to the company, department, or project in some way. Typically there are numbers that you can use directly from performance reviews if they are available to you. Otherwise there might be some other metrics that can be used.
- “Increased the customer base from 200 to 400 by designing and implementing a new website that encouraged customers to download and install software on their computer.”
This sounds pretty vague. Lets improve this section and you can quantify this statement as follows:
“Increased the customer base from 200 to 400 by designing and implementing a high-converting website that convinced customers to download and install software on their computer. This website was designed to convince customers with a personalized approach. This included:
- Offering the customer a 30 day money back guarantee, which is not offered by many competing websites.
- Explaining to the customer how software is installed on their computer without making them feel uncomfortable asking questions.
- Offering optional phone support that matches the response time of technical support available through the software company.
- Encouraging customers to send in testimonials and suggestions for improvement.
- Sending the customer an email thanking them for their business and mentioning specials provided by the software company.”
Again, this is not meant to be used as a method of selecting skills for inclusion in your resume. Rather, it is simply a way to quantify your contributions as clearly and accurately as possible. You can even break down more complex accomplishments into smaller steps to make it easier. This is particularly helpful if you have a lot of work that is more like a project than a single accomplishment.
#3: Not Including All Your Accomplishments
I hate to break it to you, but employers are only interested in you. They don’t care that you studied computer science or that you went to the same college as their boss. All they want is the person who can get the job done. So, unless they are hiring for people-management positions, make sure your resume highlights all accomplishments and skills. This is especially important if you are currently unemployed.
#4: Not “Selling” Yourself In A Resume
It’s very easy to list all of the things you’ve done on your resume without taking the time to describe why what you accomplished was important to the employer. Take some time to explain exactly why the work was valuable. Don’t just say that it had a positive impact on company X, state specifically how it improved market share or made a customer happy.
You can even break down technical accomplishments into more specific details. Let’s say you had to write a program to monitor a specific infrastructure. Instead of just saying “I wrote program that monitored very large network infrastructure”, say something like “I wrote program that provided system status monitoring for all data centers in a regional datacenter”. If you break your accomplishments into smaller units, it is much easier to explain the value of your work.
#5: Not Verifying Your Qualifications
Most resumes are full of verifiably false information. The problem isn’t that applicants are lying every time they write their resume. There are a lot of things that make it difficult to verify the accuracy of a resume, like no computer in the office, people with broken English, and emails that aren’t clear enough. The bigger issue is that the information on resumes often isn’t verified before being submitted to employers via Monster or LinkedIn.
A Well-Written Resume Should Contain These Things:
– Objective statement: a sentence that describes your career goals and gives any personal information about yourself, including start date and current job position.
– Education: briefly list your educational history, including degree/major, major GPA (optional), coursework taken on each degree, year graduated from college and number of credits received.
– Professional Experience: Include the following positions you have held with their corresponding company name and job title. If you are currently working at a company then list the company’s name in the first line of this section and state “currently employed at XYZ” in the second line. You may include only past work experience before starting your current position if desired