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15 Mistakes People Good At Resume Writing Never Make

15 Mistakes People Good At Resume Writing Never Make

Job candidates – take note! This is not your dad’s resume! That might have been 3-4 pages long with detailed, prose paragraphs describing his work experience and formatted exactly as every other candidate’s. Like everything else, resume writing has undergone a huge transformation in recent years. What once might have gotten you noticed (and even an interview request) will no longer work.

Gone are the resumes that go beyond one page – long documents are simply trashed because no one wants to slug through content to get to the meat. Gone are the days when a one-size-fits-all resume could be created and sent indiscriminately to any company with an open position. Just as any product is marketed to a target audience, your resume must be aimed at a specific consumer (in this case, a hiring manager).

And if you are a hiring manager, pay attention. If you’re looking to add to your staff, a resume will tell you a great deal about a candidate… if you’re able to read between the lines. You may not have a lot of experience evaluating resumes and determining who deserves an interview, but be watchful of the mistakes listed below. If you spot any, there’s a chance your candidate is lazy, unable to prioritize well, or has difficulty getting to the heart of matters. These aren’t the traits you want to add to your team.

As you know, there are certain things that must go in your resume. They are critical to who you are and what you can bring to the table as an employee. These are things like experience, skills, and accomplishments. The problem is compressing all of that into a very small space. As Kermit the Frog says, “It ain’t easy!”

While you’re finding this balance, here are 15 fatal mistakes that great resume writers will never make:

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1. They never create a resume that is too long

The general opinion is that a resume should be no more than a single page. If you have a lot of background experience that relates to a specific position, yours may go into a second page. That’s fine, so long as your first page is attention grabbing and compels the reader to continue.

2. They never create a laundry list

Recruiters and potential employers don’t want to pour though long lists of your past responsibilities. Learn to get rid of anything that doesn’t relate to the position at hand – no one cares!

3. They never focus on tasks

Tasks don’t say anything; achievements do. Instead of saying, “Responsible for developing a strategic plan for content marketing,” state, “Developed a strategic content marketing plan that increased visitor traffic by 25% and conversion rate by 15%.”

4. They never use a canned cover letter

If you can’t take the time to conduct research on an organization and craft a cover letter that speaks to their goals and the position you’re seeking, then you do not deserve an interview. Don’t be lazy! Engaging your reader immediately is critical. Of all resume writing tips, this may be the most important.

5. They never lack imagination

Both your cover letter and your resume must look unique. Present it creatively – print it on colored or professional resume paper, and use tasteful graphics to showcase your achievements. Worst case scenario, consult with a resume design expert if your imagination isn’t firing on all cylinders.

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6. They never use a template from the Internet

Everyone else is already doing this, and no single template is going to fit your needs and presentation. You should strive to be unique if you expect someone to read your resume for more than 8 seconds!

7. They are never too creative for the organization

Each resume sent out must be tailored to the receiving organization. A resume sent to a conservative company will look far different than one sent to a progressive tech startup! By not changing your resume’s language and appearance, you are simply begging for rejection!

8. They never put an objective statement at the top

So you want a position in your field that allows for career growth while using your acquired skills to benefit yourself and the organization? In other news, the sky is blue.

Unless your hiring manager is a bit dull, it’s safe to assume that they already know these things about you. So why waste the space? Use those extra lines to talk more about your achievements or skills.

9. They never have grammatical errors and typos

These are inexcusable in this day and age and speak, again, to laziness. You’re not writing a scholarly article, but what you do include has to be completely free of errors. It’s impossible to predict your reader’s familiarity with English, so it’s best to assume that they’re a real stickler for proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Use these tips as your personal cheat sheet for resume writing, and avoid the common mistakes that your competition will make.

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10. They never put dates first on employment history

These are boring. State your position and company first, either underlined or in bold.

While you’re at it, try experimenting with other creative presentation methods, particularly if there are gaps in your employment history that you don’t want to highlight. Some newer resume designs that are getting a lot of play these days don’t present your employment history in chronological order. Instead, they emphasize your skills and accomplishments as bold sub-headings, and then list the companies at which you demonstrated these skills and accomplishments. This lets the reader see the important stuff first.

And speaking of those embarrassing employment gaps, be prepared to answer any questions about them. Chances are they will come out during an interview whether you like it or not.

11. They never write paragraphs

Paragraphs are for CV’s. Unless you are applying for a research grant or a position in higher education, dump that prose. Include bullet points that speak to your achievements in short phrases, not sentences.

12. They never lack focus

Here we go with customization again! Each resume you develop for each position you seek must focus on the skills, talents, and achievements that relate to that position. Everything else just takes up space! This same lack of focus can carry over to an interview, and it is often stated as the most common rejection review.

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13. They never include too much personal information

It’s certainly appropriate to include a very short section on your outside interests and hobbies, particularly if they are unique. Avoid mentioning religious, political, or controversial activities. If, on the other hand, you are a skydiving instructor or ran the Boston Marathon, that might pique someone’s interest! Some people prefer to handle this by referring the reader to social media accounts (cleaned up, of course) with interesting info about their activities.

14. They never apply if they aren’t qualified

What’s the point? You won’t get an interview, and it wastes everyone’s time!

15. They never leave out keywords

Many companies require electronically-submitted resumes because they have screening software that scans for certain keywords. You can find these keywords on the company website and in the job description – use them or your resume will be trashed before it even reaches a human being!

It’s nice being able to tell yourself, “I have the perfect resume for this job.” And if you take these tips seriously, you just might! Your resume will get noticed, it will get more “play,” and you will be the one called for that interview! And in case you still don’t feel prepared, here are some tips for you next interview that will help you deal with any other you may be worried about.

Featured photo credit: Career Fair at College of DuPage 2014 36 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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