Each day clients tell me that they’ve sent their resume out to many MANY recruiters, and have not heard back from anyone. This could be for a myriad of reasons, but what I see most often is:

  • Resumes don’t look or read the part, and need an overhaul! In this case, it’s likely the recruiter won’t spend enough time to really decipher from your resume what you do, or won’t be interested enough to try; or
  • Resumes aren’t written to suit the level of skills, abilities and education required. This could mean that either you have included too much experience, making you look overqualified, or too little relevant experience and so you don’t even stand a chance.

It’s your resume’s job to scream and shout what makes you awesome and perfect for the role. It’s not a recruiter’s job to have to conduct an investigation to find it.

Upon reading my client’s old resume, I explain what I believe isn’t working about their document. And time after time, I’m noticing that I’m saying almost the same thing.

So today I’ve decided to write a post about it.

Here are some common resume mistakes in the form of tips to help you look at your resume objectively. Have a think about whether or not your resume is facing these same problems.

  1. What does the look of the document say about you? Most resumes have a “look and feel” of a resume from the 90’s. You know, when word processing was a new-age thing? Back then, we used MS Word templates that came with the software. Those days are over. It’s time to become more professional;
  2. Check that the structure of your document is sufficiently detailed. Perhaps you should expand it to include other items that recruiters are looking for? Eg. summary of your experience, your personal profile, a key capabilities section. These should be ‘specific’ to you and your experience, as well as closely matched to the requirements of roles of interest. Don’t let it take up the whole first page though;
  3. Ensure that the layout or order of the sections is relevant, and reorder if necessary. Ask yourself, what is important in this role that I am applying for, and focus on that;
  4. Most responsibilities sections need more information. Other times less. Understand what key capabilities and responsibilities hiring managers are looking for by conducting your own research. Ensure all key capabilities are addressed. Keep it to about 5-8 points per role (yes, this may be difficult);
  5. Achievements are necessary;
  6. Word order and choice is important. Ensure you include the keyword towards the beginning of the sentence and you start each sentence with an action-oriented, past-tense verb;
  7. These days, details of referees aren’t included. “Referees Will Be Provided Upon Request” is sufficient;
  8. Education-wise, include names of qualifications, majors studied, grades obtained (if you are proud to boast them), where they were obtained and year of completion. Make sure you include only the relevant qualifications, and don’t include everything if that will make you overqualified;
  9. Include the month that you commenced and cease employment with each company, not just the year;
  10. Check font size. Ensure consistency across the document;
  11. You have spell-check. Use it.
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Now go through your resume with a fine tooth comb and double check it again. Your resume doesn’t have very long to engage the reader – 5 seconds usually, if even that.

No doubt, you have some great experience. Where most people lack, is in the ability to show it off!

Now, ask yourself this question: If you were looking at your resume as it is right now, would you decide to interview you?