11 Resumes Mistakes and Habits to Avoid in Order to Stand Out and Get Hired

The job market is just like any other type of market with its own trends and fashions that go in and out of favor. While a simple black suit may never go out of style there is a decent chance that your resume is currently out of date. To have the best chance of being hired you must conform to these rules and styles. You can’t just go off of how your dad wrote his resume or you will be left in the dust by the competition.

Objective Statement

When I first learned about resumes and put together on my own objective statements were a must. Every resume had them. It was taboo to not have one on your resume and it could certainly hurt your chances of being hired. It’s just seen as sales pitch today, a generic one at that. Get rid of it now and add another few lines of relevant experience instead. Substance over fluff is the name of the game here.

One Resume

While you may be applying for the same position in several different companies you shouldn’t just be using one resume. I generally have three! At first glance they are all very similar to each other, however they each emphasis different attributes about myself and experience. I pick the one that is most matches the key words of the job description of the position I am applying for. Further still I will adjust the resume and add more key words if it is warranted. This way I have a customized response for every place I apply to. These places will pay you literally tens of thousands of dollars, trust me the time is worth it.

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GPA

This is somewhat relevant information that can be on your resume but once you get just one job of relevant experience it should be dropped. Once you have proven yourself in a relevant field the GPA is not going to be a factor for anyone. Worse still if you had less than a 3.5 GPA don’t put it on your resume in the first place! Leaving it off it a lot better than letting people know you had a 2.8 in college. If they do need to know your GPA its better to tell them face to face so you can explain yourself more. With the removal of the GPA I wouldn’t replace it with anything, it’s a small item to begin with and the use of blank or negative space in a resume is underestimated. It helps easy to skim which is how most resumes are read anyway.

Multiple Pages

I have no idea why I see these still. I don’t know if in the 60s there was someone teaching it and it stuck for a lot of people but it needs to stop. Your resume needs to be 1 page and that’s it. This is due to your resume is going to be in a pile of others and the employer need to be able to read it quick and move on. If they have to flip it or look for the other page it just will look unprofessional and you will find your resume in the trash can. Just one. No more, no less. I do mean no less. Please don’t send a resume with the bottom 25% blank. Think of something, volunteer work, designations received, anything is better than that much emptiness.

You can have additional supporting documents that you can have on hand to support your resume. That’s fine and not a bad thing to have. For instance I keep a supporting sheet on hand of references. It has their basic contact info and very brief description of how they know me. Supporting material is fine but your resume needs to be one page.

Freestyle Format

A bad resume format can kill an otherwise amazing resume. While this may have been harder to pull off in the past there is no excuse now. There are literally hundreds of free formats for you to work with. Google Docs even has a few free templates to work with. I have had great success using these templates. Its 2018 embrace the technology and incorporate it into your resume. Having a format will also help keep you focused on what you need to be including so you don’t miss anything. You need to be putting several hours into your resume, so if you can save yourself some time worrying about editing margins you should do it. A professional, yet free, resume template will give you the proper look you need to stand out.

Hobbies

This is another category I was told to put on my resume starting off. I have no idea why! I assume there was at some point a theory that this and the objective statement would humanize you. Well it doesn’t, it just makes your resume look unprofessional. This is the king of fluff for resumes and prospective employers know that. If you are choosing to add how you like to hike or go to the beach over relevant job experience you will be passed over more times than you would like.  Think of your resume as real estate, you only have a very limited supply of space and you need to make it count. This space can better be used for volunteer work (that may be related to your hobbies) or expanding upon your job experience.

Responsibilities

Your job history should of course explain to people what you did, especially if it’s in an unrelated field. However you shouldn’t just list off what your duties at the company where, it’s very boring and doesn’t sell yourself to them. You should instead be reframing these responsibilities as accomplishments. What did you accomplish while working at your last job? Don’t say you sold accounts; say you sold 4,000 accounts with a 3.5% growth every year. Be specific and brag about yourself! A resume is a hype man for your career. It should brag about you. Don’t waste your resume by being modest because the guy you are applying with isn’t going to be.

Slang and Tech Speak

This trend isn’t an outdated one that you need to avoid but a new trend that you need to avoid. Some of it isn’t even your fault. You may not even realize you are using slang as you write. This can make you look immature though so you should be avoiding it. Don’t use short hand like you would in a text either. This is even more unprofessional than the slang! This may seem obvious to some reading this but you’d be surprised how often you see this. This can best be avoided by having someone look over your resume. Have a lot of people look over your resume like I do. Have them double check grammar, spelling, and formatting.

Computer Skills

It physically hurts me to see someone under 35 put they are proficient in Microsoft Word. Why? Stop putting these on your resumes, this includes Excel and PowerPoint. Don’t you dare put the word PowerPoint on your resume. People of all ages really shouldn’t be doing it but it’s really bad if you are younger. It is assumed that you know Microsoft software. Now there are courses available with certifications in Microsoft Suite and other similar “basic” software programs that should you have above average skills with these types of programs and they are fantastic to include in your resume. In particular getting a certificate in Excel is a fantastic detail to include in just about every single field.

Paragraphs

Sticking with the theme of keeping these resumes easy to skim is to stop giving job descriptions in paragraph format. While technically you may be able to include more information bullet points are just the way to go. They provide a much cleaners look to your resumes. Someone can glance at your sheet and get a general idea of your experience. Try to keep it to 5 point for your most recent and relevant job and all the way down to 2 or even one on a very old and unrelated job. This will also force you to make sure every line counts. You can only summarize your current role in 4 lines, how do you do it? You are going to pick the most relevant elements of job experience where you excelled at of course!

PDF

In addition to my multiple versions I keep of my resume I keep two versions of each of these. Sending a PDF version of your resume out is such a good idea because it looks more professional and it also makes sure your format is consistent. Plus it demonstrates you have the ability to convert a word doc to a PDF which is always nice. Embrace the changes in technology to better stand out among the competition.

Sometimes your old man has good career advice, sometimes he is a little behind the times. You are not competing against your father or mother’s resumes; you are competing with new modern resumes. I want your resume to stand out just not in a bad way. If you have any outdate resume trends that you know of let me know in the comments I’d love to hear from you.

If you have some time check out of the other articles and thank you for your time.

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