5 Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes on Their Resume

So, you’ve sent in your resume for a great job opportunity. Do you envision the employer pouring himself a cup of coffee, settling into his chair, kicking off his shoes, and devouring every word of your resume with riveted attention? Not exactly.

He’ll devote six seconds to scanning your resume and if you’ve made even one of these fatal mistakes, your resume gets tossed. All your hard work—in the garbage. Don’t let that happen. Avoid these 5 resume mistakes to give your resume a chance!

The #1 Mistake

Failing to show how you meet the job requirements.
Employers try to be very specific when listing their requirements in the job posting. They do this to attract applicants who closely match the job requirements, thereby drawing qualified candidates which streamlines the screening process.

Yet, an average of 98% of the resumes they receive do not show how the applicants meet the job requirements listed in the ad. No matter the lengths employers and recruiters go to to clearly describe their requirements, 98% of the resumes they receive are full of irrelevant, useless information that contains no value to the employer.

If you are qualified to apply for the jobs you’re applying for, your resume should include all (or most) of the keywords and phrases used in the job posting’s description. You should develop your own descriptions using keywords and phrases used in the job ad.

If your previous work experience is sufficient to qualify you to apply for the job, you should have no trouble describing that experience using the job ad’s keywords naturally in your descriptions. Employers, hiring managers, and recruiters spend an average of six seconds scanning a resume. They are looking for only two things:

1. how applicants’ qualifications, experience, and skills directly meet their requirements, and,

2. the number of years of direct, relevant experience.

That’s it, and it takes only six seconds for whoever is reading your resume to find out what they need to know.

The #2 Mistake

Including every job you’ve ever had, no matter how irrelevant or long ago.
A resume isn’t meant to be an exhaustive accounting of every job you’ve ever held. The employer cares little, if at all, about anything you’ve done that is not relevant to the job he needs to fill.

Job-seekers tend to fill their resumes with all of their work experience thinking a potential employer may find some value in their previous, unrelated work experience. Not so! Employers are interested in only how you are skilled and qualified to fill the positions they need to fill. They need you to speak directly to, and only about, the job requirements listed in the job ad and how you meet them. That is all employers and recruiters are interested in!

The #3 Mistake

Listing only job duties, rather than accomplishments.
Resumes that really stand out go way beyond showing a laundry-list of job duties. Today’s resumes are all about describing accomplishments and achievements.

That doesn’t mean writing a book about what you did in each job. It means describing not only what you did, but how you did it. That can be easily accomplished in a single, meaningful sentence. Here’s a before and after:

DutyDrove crews to job sites.

Accomplishment: Maintained a spotless safe-driving record with the company while transporting daily crews to and from job sites on time by planning routes and leaving time for unforeseen conditions.

One little sentence that packs a punch! The person reading this can visualize this applicant conscientiously driving a crew truck and making sure he gets those guys to the job site safely and on time. I love it!

It’s a single sentence packed with meaning! Once you start thinking about not only what you did, but how you did it and why you did it, you’ll easily come up with some meaningful work descriptions to wow-up your resume. Here’s some extra help on writing accomplishments.

The #4 Mistake

Making self-assessed claims about yourself.
Your resume is a document to describe experience and accomplishments only. It’s not the place to offer your opinion of yourself, like “great leadership skills” or “creative innovator.”

Hiring managers generally ignore anything subjective that an applicant writes about his- or herself because so many people’s self-assessments are wildly inaccurate. If you do have great leadership skills and that is something relevant to the job requirements, create a meaningful sentence describing how and why you are/have been a great leader. Quantify!

By describing how you gained and used your leadership skills you quantify your claim and show you have a valid definition of what a great leader is. Here’s another before and after.

SkillGreat leadership skills.

AccomplishmentFormed, led, and motivated a five-person office-renovation committee coordinating human resources so efficiently the project was completed early and under budget.

Wow! Again, one can almost visualize this great person leading a small team to victory! They would definitely want to meet her and ask her all about it! If you cannot substantiate your claims with a simple, meaningful sentence, don’t bother laundry-listing them on your resume.

The #5 Mistake

Relying on outdated sources of advice.
Resume conventions have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. If you’re following advice or sample resumes you find on the Internet, chances are good you’re reading something outdated (or listening to someone who hasn’t written a successful resume in the past ten years).

An “Objective Statement“, is the BEST example of what not to do on your resume, yet I promise you, if you jump online right now and look up “resume samples” you’ll see dozens and dozens of resumes using an objective statement. It’s garbage!

Also, do not buy or borrow printed books on resume writing. By the time the writer finishes writing the book and it goes to publishing and finally hits the bookstore shelves, it’s outdated! e-Books, on the other hand, are great because the author can update them regularly and send the updated version to his or her readers.

I spend countless hours researching everything to do with resume-writing and job-searching. I pull information from several resources, one of which, perhaps the most reliable, is Recruiting Agencies.

These agencies would not be in business if they could not furnish their clients with qualified employees. Recruiting agency personnel are in close relationships with the employers and the HR departments who hire them to find qualified people. They know what employers are looking for, and they know, in turn, what they need to see on resumes to develop a viable pool of suitable applicants.

And that’s why I love sharing this information with my readers – I know it’s real, it’s timely, and it comes from the people “in-the-know”.

How to Avoid the 5 Mistakes Most People Make on Their Resumes

• clearly and quickly show the employer you are qualified, according to his description of qualifications provided in the job posting
• show only your work experience that is directly related to the work he needs done—not your entire irrelevant work history
• avoid throwing a bunch of meaningless words at him, but instead describe not just what you did, but how you did it, and, go a step further by describing the outcomes

The only way to get your resume past an ATS and in front of human eyes is to write in direct response to the job posting. Remember, employers and recruiters spend only about six seconds scanning resumes looking for the keywords and phrases that match those they took the time to spell out in the job description.

Why not grab your FREE copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME! to really learn how to avoid these 5 fatal resume mistakes!


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terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born www.goresumepro.ca/blog. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “5 Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes on Their Resume”

  1. Your resume pro chat pops up on my android phone, but it won’t let me open it to chat with you.

    I was wondering if you do resume reviews?
    If I submitted you my resume youd email it back with suggestions.
    [email protected]

    1. Thanks Tavish! I better see what’s going on with that chat window.
      And yes, certainly I’ll give your resume a review. Please send it to me at [email protected].
      I’ll be happy to send you back my suggestions.
      Thanks for getting in touch Tavish!

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