Are you trying to make a good first impression with your resume? If so, avoid making the following 15 dumbest resume mistakes or you will never get a second chance.

1. You have a long, rambling cover letter

If you write a very long cover letter, the future employer will never even get to your resume. The secret here is to briefly list your qualifications, experience, and what you can offer the company. That’s it.

2. Your resume is too long or too short

The recruitment manager is a busy person. Your resume may be one of five hundred! Two pages are generally regarded as ideal for a job-seeker with some experience. A one page resume is fine for an entry level employee.

3. You do not use relevant keywords

When you do this, the scanner used to filter out unsuitable candidates at the initial stage will certainly reject yours. Avoid this error by studying the job description and advertisement so that you know what the main keywords are. Then, relate your qualifications and experience to them.

4. You do not tell the truth

You have stated that you have relevant experience in certain areas or have qualifications which are non-existent.  If you ever do get to the interview stage, this will come against you big time when discovered. Employers carry out checks, so you have been warned.

5. You attach a file named ‘resume’

If you are making an application by email and attach a file vaguely named as ‘resume,’ this is a big mistake. The recruitment section will find it difficult to trace your application. Save the attachment with your own name. Remember that about 25% of employers now accept digital applications only and will trash those that arrive by ‘snail mail.’  Check carefully how applications are to be submitted.

6. You make vague references to your duties

If you use words like ’assisted with,’ ‘supported finance manager,’ or ‘responsible for,’ you will never be shortlisted. The secret here is to use much more specific words with details of how, when, and what was achieved. For example, the following examples are more specific and will make a favorable impression:

  • Wrote and implemented an absence policy which reduced absence levels from 25% to 11% over a twelve-month period
  • Managed restructuring program which led to a reduction in running costs of 15% over a two-year period
  • Initiated social media policy which increased website traffic by 30% in six months

7. You include irrelevant personal information

If you mention your height, weight, ethnic background, or even marital status, this is regarded as being unnecessary and will be a black mark. Similarly, giving extensive details about hobbies and interests will be treated in the same way. If you mention that you have extensive experience with video games, this will be another howler unless, of course, the position is for a video game designer or marketing manager!

8. Your resume has several typos and howlers

Yes, spelling is important! If you have not checked your application for typos and grammatical errors, then it will be trashed. Some recent howlers should make you laugh and think:

  • Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.
  • I’m good at timekeeping. I wake up at 6am on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • Willing to work anywhere in the English speaking world and/or Washington D.C.

9. You use a standard template

You are not going to stand out and your resume will be the same as hundreds of others. Consider this:

  • Bullet point instead of long, rambling sentences
  • Leave a one inch margin all around
  • Implement lots of headings
  • Stick to normal fonts (maximum two)
  • Use normal white paper
  • No need to attach a photo collection of your whole life or indeed a head-shot

10. You use text message language

This is a no-brainer but many people are still doing it. They think it is trendy to use abbreviations which are used in text messages. They think that this shows that they are modern and want to save time and space. Typical examples are the use of ‘u’ instead of ‘you.’ Capital letters seem to be out of fashion. Take home message? Just use standard language.

11. You never mention your skills

In one survey, it was discovered that about 35% of resumes had not mentioned the applicant’s skills. About another third of applicants had copied wording from the job advert. The resume is your only chance to show off your skills.

12. You use cliche phrases

If you describe yourself as a ‘team player,’ a ‘good communicator,’ or you are ‘results-oriented,’ then you are not going to stand out as a potential candidate for interview. Everybody uses these phrases!

13. You list your jobs incorrectly

Standard procedure is to put your latest position at the top of the list. Then work down to your first job. The same applies to education and qualifications. You always list the most important and most recent one at the top.

14. You say ‘I’ too much

Employers prefer to see statements about key achievements. It is obvious that it is you, so no need for pronouns. The following statement does not use any pronoun and is preferred

  •  Developed new service that added $3 million in sales and increased market share by 10%

15. You do not list references correctly

Making a statement like, ‘References available on request’ is not acceptable. Simply list your references with name, position, address, and email or phone number. You should also mention how they know you and in what context you worked together.

How many mistakes have you made? Maybe time to get back to the drawing board and write a really great resume that will stand out from the crowd. Bookmark this page!

Check out How to Make Your Resume Stand Out From the Crowd

Featured photo credit: Wendy walks through resume writing/ Gangplank HQ via Flickr

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