Your resume is an essential tool when actively job searching. You have less than 30 seconds to make a good impression. It’s also one of the tools that can be the difference between landing on the “let’s interview” pile or the “rejection,” pile. In a very competitive job market, there’s no room for errors when you are actively job searching. Yet, I still see many errors made particularly on resumes!
It is my hope that this article helps set you up for greater success in your job search. I have made a list of the 7 most common errors you can avoid on your resume (and provided some tips on what to do instead), so you can achieve the results you deserve in your job search.
1. Resume Career Summary is Not Included
A resume career summary may also be referred to as a resume summary, professional summary or summary statement and appears on the first page of your resume. Indeed defines it as a “one to two sentence description at the start of your resume that describes you, your level of experience and your key skills” and suggests thinking about a resume summary as an answer to the question, “How would you describe your work experience in one or two sentences?”.
Not including a resume career summary is a common error and, if missed, can mean you’ve under-represented yourself relative to other candidates applying for the same role. If you don’t take the time to include a Career Summary at the start of your resume, you are not showcasing your strongest assets upfront or providing an easy snapshot for the recruiter or hiring manager to assess if you are suitable for the job.
Here’s an example of how to add a resume career summary and avoid this error…
If you have 10 years of experience working in IT you’re likely to have developed a long list of accomplishments for your resume. Creating a summary that showcases the most relevant, key points for a specific position and employer can be helpful by allowing the audience to get a solid picture of your qualifications immediately.
2. Laundry List of Skills Don’t Match the Role’s Key Selection Criteria
Hopefully you do not need me to tell you that you’ll need to adapt your resume for each new role you apply for. Providing a long laundry list of skills that don’t match the role’s key selection criteria is not recommended.
While I do encourage my clients to develop a master resume with all details, it must be tailored to the requirements of each role you apply for.
Here’s what you need to do in order to avoid this common resume error…
Take the time to review and highlight the requirements of a specific role and ensure the skills you’ve listed on your resume match these. If there are any skills you have that aren’t relevant to the role, omit them from the resume for that particular job application.
3. Role Responsibilities Don’t Show Metrics
This refers to a lack of specific details in terms of the sales volume, geographic areas your role/s covered, the number of people who report to you, the number of clients/customers you were responsible for and the specific growth rates or savings you may have achieved.
It’s not enough to cut and paste your bullet point responsibilities. Just like the summary, each role explanation needs to give an overall snapshot of the breadth and depth of the role to help the recruiter or hiring manager understand the scope of what you were responsible for.
This error is a little harder to address and many of my clients need help in drawing this out. Often they’ve been so busy doing their jobs that they forget to keep their resume current and populated with the details of their roles and responsibilities.
If you’re struggling with this one, I recommend you book in a time to chat with me.
4. Key Achievements Are Not Highlighted in Resume
If you don’t have achievements highlighted in your resume, this could be the reason why you are not getting invited to interview. The impact of this error is best understood by thinking about the experience of the recruiter or hiring manager when reviewing applications for a role. If they have your resume, with no achievements highlighted and someone else’s resume, with similar experience, AND their achievements highlighted, who do you think is more likely to be invited to the next interview stage?
This error can be easily fixed by reflecting on and then listing all of the achievements in your current and past roles and ensuring this is included in your master resume.
Here’s how you can include key achievements in your resume…
For each new role you apply for, include the relevant achievements for each role, ensuring it’s tailored to the role’s requirements. Include at least 3 key achievements in your more recent roles and less in past roles.
5. Incorrect Titles
A common error is to use a title that is not well understood by the recruiter or hiring manager. Different organisations have different roles to reflect the same jobs. An example of this is a client who worked in Trade Marketing. She was given the title Channel Planner, which did not make much sense outside of her organisation.
To address this error, consider if your title is easily understood by others.
If it’s not easy to understand here’s what you can do…
Change your title in your resume to the most similar term or title that is understood as the industry term to represent this role. If you are not sure what this is, do your research on LinkedIn and check the titles of people in similar roles, or check what the advertised titles of these roles are. I am not suggesting you lie, however be sure that the role titles on your resume are accurate and clearly understood.
6. Referees Are Added on the Resume
A common error is listing your professional referees on your resume. There are a number of reasons I do not recommend you do this. The main one being that if you are applying for lots of roles at one time, you may want to tailor your referees to each role and you’ll also want to give your referees ample warning if they are likely to be called.
Another way to look at it is to understand when references are actually checked. Your referees are commonly called after your interviews have gone well and the employer is in the final stages of deciding whether or not to offer you the job. For this reason you also want the opportunity to brief the referee on what to expect and what you think they’ll be asked when they receive a call!
Here’s how to avoid this error…
List ‘Professional Referees available on request’ in the final section of your resume.
7. Resume Includes a Photo or Address
This is a common error because it is unnecessary information that doesn’t relate to your skills, experience and suitability for the role and can create unconscious bias. Please allow me to explain. Knowing what you look like and where you live will contribute little to a hiring manager or recruiter assessing your ability to deliver on the core requirements of the role, manage projects and people or deal with challenges in the workplace.
Your resume is a tool to help you secure a job interview. Don’t give a potential employer any reason to ignore your skills and experience by focusing on your appearance or where you live.
I hope you are now in a much better position to avoid these errors on your resume. Did you know that your resume is just one of the five essential job search tools that will help you land your dream job faster? The other four are your Cover Letter, LinkedIn Profile, You and your Job Search Coach (that’s me!). Clients come to me for help for a variety of reasons including:
- They’ve been made redundant and need to create a resume and prepare for the job application and job interview process
- They’re preparing their job search tools to escape a job they hate
- They haven’t had the success they expected with their job search and aren’t sure why.
You may also be interested in reading my recent post, 7 Steps to Achieve Success in Your Job Search, where I share the elements of a successful job search.
If you still feel stuck or don’t know what to do next, I invite you to book a 15 minute Career Chat to discuss how you can move forward in your job search. Click here to book a time with me.
I am a passionate Career Coach who works with individuals in the explore and search phase of their career journey, helping you realise your strengths through my career coaching and training programs. I enjoy showing people the path to greater career satisfaction and providing insight and tools to help you make your next career move.