The resume is the primary document job seekers use to get a job. It really is the first impression any recruiter, HR professional or hiring manager has of you. The average resume will get anywhere from 5-12 seconds (YES SECONDS) of a recruiter’s time. So if this is so important, why do so many people overlook these common resume killers?
Candidates will claim to have excellent attention to detail, yet on a quick glance of the resume, typos!! This is by far the easiest mistake to avoid, yet every day candidates get rejected for a simple typo. There is really no excuse for this when every software program used to write the resume has spell check. If English is not your first language, get someone to proof read your resume before submission.
2) Too Long (and wordy)
One page? Two pages? More? What’s the right length? The length of the resume should be in line with your experience. The basic rule of thumb is no more than two pages is ideal. Most recruiters will avoid long three plus page resumes. We don’t have the time. You want to make sure everything is included in your resume so you pack so much detail that the highlights get buried. Your resume is not the place to provide every single detail of your work. The resume has to tell a story and provide the high level information. Leave something for someone to call you about to get the information. It is also very important to make the resume visually appealing. Make sure headings are clear, and avoid long sections of text without a break. If all you see is big blocks of text, you’re resume is not getting read.
Everyone I speak to says “I can’t believe people lie on a resume”. BELIEVE IT. Research has shown that 40-50 percent of resumes have at least one lie. Are you trying to hide gaps in the resume by stretching actual start and end dates? Do you claim to have a designation or degree that may not be complete or perhaps not in good standing? Have you changed actual job titles, not always to a higher title but often to a lower title? These are all lies and professional recruiters and HR Professionals are trained to spot them. It’s also very important to ensure that the resume matches exactly to your LinkedIn Profile. We Check!
4) Unexplained Gaps
Gaps in a resume are normal. It is very likely that everyone has gaps on their resume. Most people will have some time off between roles and that is fine. Don’t try and hide them. When a gap is more than a few months, explain why. Did you take some time to care for a child or parent? For those in the sandwich generation, this is very common. Took some time to travel or return home for an extended vacation? People don’t often get this chance, so when the opportunity arises and you take advantage, others will probably be envious. It also makes for a great ice breaker in an interview.
5) Company descriptions
Not everyone works for a Fortune 500 company. Even if you do, take a sentence or two to describe the company and what they do. Even if you do work for a large famous company, talk about the division you worked in or something specific that further describes the area. Make it easy for the person reading the resume to get an idea of where you worked. This is extremely important when coming from another country. Your employer may be very well know in your home country as an industry leader, but people here may not know a thing about them.
6) Job Responsibilities vs Accomplishments
“I saved the best for last”. Your resume is not the place to reiterate your job description. People reading your resume will have a good understanding of the day to day responsibilities from your job title. If you provide information on the company and job title, then just your top 3-5 job responsibilities should be included on your resume. This is your chance to brag. What are you most proud of in each role? Talk to what YOU did (not the team) and what was the result. Think actions and results. This is what makes you different from others.
If you keep these in mind, you increase the chances of your resume getting read and even getting calls back from prospective employers and recruiters.
Contributed by Paul Orzech
Director, Recruiting at PTC Recruiting