Frustrated by the lack of response from potential employers? Have the experience but don’t know how to convey your strengths? Don’t spend days and weeks wondering why nothing’s biting.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Switching careers or entering the workforce can be a difficult process, but with the right tools and a few adjustments, it doesn’t have to be. While each industry has different resume standards, a few rules apply across the board.
These 7 resume tips and mistakes to avoid will get you back on track and in front of your dream employer in no time.
Keep it clean
Unless you are in a creative or art-focused industry such as graphic design, leave the colors, special fonts, and graphics at home. Having multiple colors, fonts, and formats is an automatic turn-off for the hiring manager.
An attempt to make your resume stand out only distracts the reader from your true capabilities.
Occasionally, a simple pop of color (perhaps just your name) or using different fonts for the headings and body is okay, but it must be done carefully in fear of appearing juvenile.
If you have second thoughts, skip it. It’s tough to accept that your resume may blend in with the others, but it’s better than sticking out for the wrong reasons.
Spell check, check and check again
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s one of the most fatal mistakes you can make on your resume. Don’t just trust the red line from Word.
Many times a word can be spelled correctly; you may just be using the incorrect word. For example, using effect instead of affect, traveling (UK spelling) instead of traveling (US spelling).
Another common mistake is to overlook a red line under a proper noun when you simply assumed it was underlined because it is not a word found in a dictionary. You may overlook “Kaladi’s Coffee Shop” as you know that Word will not recognize the name of your previous employer, but make sure to check each proper noun carefully, as you may have typed, “Kaleadi’s Coffee Shop” (improper spelling) at some point in your document.
This may be a simple resume tip, but it’s one of the most important.
Start with what’s important
Has it been decades since you’ve been to school? Had a 7-year run at an agency but have been working at a fast food joint for the last few months? Put your most relevant and impressive information at the top.
You only have a few moments to ‘wow’ the hiring manager, so make it count. Be careful to not do this without proper organization, though.
Try to keep your experience in chronological order. If your most recent job doesn’t apply to the position, consider creating two sections: relevant experience and additional experience.
If you have an impressive academic background or are a recent grad, keep the education at the top. If your education is irrelevant to the position or it’s been decades since you’ve attended a class, move it to the bottom.
Show, don’t tell
Having a skills section or goals/mission statement is an outdated and useless waste of space. Telling a hiring manager you’re a team player or understand Microsoft office is not only assumed but met with rolling eyes as well.
There are a few special cases, if your industry requires the knowledge of multiple applications, such as a web development, having a skills section can be useful in demonstrating to the employer your capabilities.
Otherwise, leave the “exceptional customer service” out of the skills section and show the hiring manager what that means with specific instances from your past jobs.
A mission statement, quote, or goals section at the top of your resume is one of the worst resume mistakes you can make. They are cheesy, vague, and don’t give the hiring manager any idea of what makes you unique.
Just remove it – it’s a resume tip heard time and time again.
Keep it short
A general rule of thumb is to not go over one page. For those with extensive careers, this may seem impossible, but hiring managers rarely read anything past the first page.
A great solution to condensing a lengthy resume is to create a website or portfolio.
Keep the highlights in your resume, and use a portfolio or website to go into more detail.
Websites are now fairly simple to make, but if you’re serious about showing off your stuff, hiring a web designer to help create a personal website can be a worthy investment.
You can place your URL with your phone and email contact information on your resume. With a sharp looking website or portfolio, you can appear more professional than those without. This resume tip has helped hundreds get noticed.
This is your chance to shine. Don’t falsify your experience, but don’t be modest, either.
It may be too late now, but in the future, keep track of your accomplishments during your employment so you can refer back to achievements you may have forgotten. If you were on time every morning, highlight your continual punctuality. Found yourself leading more meetings than not? That shows leadership.
What may seem like day-to-day activities, when approached from a new angle, are great examples of your character.
Quantify your achievements
Quantify your achievements whenever possible. Handled 20 accounts? How much was that in monthly billing? How many phone calls did you make each month?
Implement a new plan to save the business money? Can you estimate how much you saved?
Using quantifiable achievements shows the hiring manager exactly what you accomplished, instead of using vague references.
If you follow these resume tips, you’re more likely to catch the hiring manager’s eye. Work smarter, not harder. Have a resume tip or trick you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below!