Resume Mistakes

As a recruitment technology company, we are sometimes mistaken by job seekers for a recruitment consultant / recruiter. When this happens, job seekers write in to our enquiry pages to apply for jobs. However, very often we will see terribly written resumes—those that we know our clients won’t want and neither will we.

So we thought about it and also did some research on what a bad resume might look like, here are some key mistakes:

  1. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
    This point is obvious. These errors show either your language competencies (or the lack of) and/or says that you are sloppy.
  2. Not tailoring your resume
    Cookie cutter resumes tells the hirer that you are not as interested as you should be. It says that you sent out a generic resume and you’re just blanketing the job market. It could suggest that you are having troubles finding a job.
  3. Too much information
    Keep in mind that the resume highlights key points about yourself. It should generate interest enough for the hirer to want to meet with you. It is not to tell them everything about yourself—you do want to save some of the information for the face-to-face interview.
  4. Keep information relevant
    Many resumes come with various bits of information that does not match the job description. It makes you look irrelevant. Some resumes simply lists duties or responsibilities—these do not paint a picture of your skills and accomplishments; those are the important bits. Certainly do not list your spouse’s information (I have previously received a resume with this information)
  5. Being too humble or too boastful
    Share your accomplishments—state the quantified achievements that you have but avoid sounding too self-congratulatory about it

To add on, let me share with you some points from a blog post by Mark Babbitt:

7 Words to Avoid in Resumes

1. Approximately
You have to approximate? You don’t know what you did? Or you do know, but creating a good first impression wasn’t a big priority for you when the resume was sent to me. If you don’t know – find out. If you do know – show some confidence, and tell me down to the tenth percentile what you accomplished. That is impressive!

2. Assisted
Unless you work in a dental office or are a point guard, I don’t want to hear about your “assists”. We hire leaders here, so I want to know that you were the one being assisted. In a humble way, tell me what you did, how you did it, and how many you lead in the process.

3. Attempted
Never, ever tell me what you wanted to do. Tell me what you did in an emphatic tone, including a quantitative statement, Good examples: “Increased customer satisfaction by 115%” and “Exceeded quota by an average of 31.2% every quarter”

4. Team player
We like team players; we do. However, can’t we find a creative way to demonstrate that you are, indeed, a team player? For instance, you could say that you take great pride in being a mentor; that 9 of your 12 team members went on to receive promotions. Or, you can tell me that your organization held a 76.5% retention rate. Anything… but “team player”.

5. Implemented
Implemented – like “followed” and “applied”; even “executed” – is a “monkey” word. As in, “any monkey could do that job.” We don’t hire monkeys, or followers, or implementers. We hire people who think for themselves and can improve existing processes while getting the job done. The ONE exception to this rule: if “implemented” is preceded by “planned and…”.

6. Professional
Is anyone going to admit they were less-than-professional during their previous jobs? In your career, isn’t “professional” in the same obvious realm as “I breathe air”? Can’t we come up with a better word to describe how we conducted ourselves? Yes, we can. And I’d like to see a little more imagination.

7. Hopefully
Especially in today’s economy, we’re seeing way too much of this. I don’t get angry, because I understand that people are hungry for work – and are just hoping for a chance to show what they can do. I get it. Do yourself a favor, however: remove this word! There is no hope, at least from me, when you use “hopefully”.

Candidates: go take a look at your resume, cover letter and online presence. Do any of these words show up? If yes… get a little creative. Have a little fun. And then see if maybe you don’t get a few more interviews.

Recruiters: what resume words hit you like a brain freeze? Let us know, and we’ll help the job seekers out there by compiling a definitive list of words not to use during their job search.

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2 comments

  1. Fairly good guidelines, covering common missing and skipping. From my own perspective , the most pertinent element is to write a resume tailored to a specific job so it doesn’t carry irrelevant details.

    1. Hi Mohammad, That’s completely true and should be the practice for any jobseeker. However, most people would take a lazy man’s approach and do a one-size fits all resume.

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