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Top eight most common resume mistakes


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Recruiters only give your resume 20 to 30 seconds of air time before moving on to the next candidate—that is, if they even see your resume at all. The black hole known only to job seekers is officially referred to in the recruiting world as The Applicant Tracking System. This effective tool allows recruiters to be more efficient with their time, but frustrates job seekers daily.

So how can you beat the system, entice the hiring manager to look a little longer, or maybe even pick up the phone to learn a little bit more about your qualifications? I’ll tell you: Stop making these common resume mistakes and set yourself apart.

Mistake #1 – Reads like a Job Description

Many job seekers will write a chronological review of their most recent job experience on their resume focused on job duties. Such as, “answered the telephone.” I ask, “So what? How were you different from all your colleagues?”

Let me give you a personal example: the assistant in the ICC offices. Like many assistants, she answers phones, files paperwork and makes copies. However, it is the way that she answers the phone and files the paperwork that sets her apart from every other administrative assistant. She is courteous, goes above and beyond to make our clients and employees feel comfortable and even proactively solves problems before handing off the phone to the appropriate person in the office. Now that’s customer service!  How about this accomplishment for a resume:

Courteously answered the telephone and proactively solved client problems to ensure exceptional customer service to all clients and employees.

Mistake #2 – Includes Grammatical Errors, Typos and Lacks Creativity

Do we really need to continue to talk about this?  Unfortunately, YES! Here is a list of blunders we saw recently: Floor Stalker vs. Floor Stocker or steal can vs. steel can. Don’t get lazy. Check for misspellings and grammatical errors. Don’t be afraid to get out the thesaurus and use different words. Sentences that all begin with “led,” will not demonstrate your creative nature.

Mistake #3 – Contains No Contact Information

You think this would be a no brainer but it’s true – you must include your telephone number and email address. Also, you might want to consider replacing your mailing address with your LinkedIn URL, Twitter handle or website.

Mistake #4 – Is Too Long or Too Short

Get to the point in two pages and only include relevant accomplishments to the job to which you are applying. With that said, don’t sell yourself short with a 1-page document either. If you are an accomplished manager or executive, you have enough experience to draw upon that will demonstrate that you can get the job done.

Mistake #5 – Features an Objective that is all About You

The value proposition, introductory paragraph or objective – whatever you choose to call it cannot be all about you.

This is valuable real estate on the resume; don’t waste it on ‘excellent communication skills.’  Set yourself apart, engage your audience and make it about how you solve problems that they [the organization] are experiencing.

Mistake #6 – Is Not Tailored to the Specific Job Application

There are two complaints that I hear from job seekers daily basis: 1. I submitted my resume and didn’t hear anything back, and 2. Do I really have to customize my resume for every job opening? These complaints go hand and hand. YES – you have to customize your resume for every opportunity to ensure that your resume gets past the Applicant Tracking System. Without key organizational terms in your resume, you will be guaranteed a spot in the wild blue yonder. Take the time to use the organization’s vocabulary throughout the resume and adjust your accomplishment statements to mirror the job requirements. Remember, tailoring a resume will not be such a daunting task if you are applying for jobs that you are actually qualified to do.

Mistake #7 – Discloses Too Much Personal Information

You want to differentiate yourself from every other job seeker and be unique. However, there is a limit to the amount of personal information that you should share on a resume. Teenagers would call this TMI (too much information)! Keep personal information on your resume only if it aligns with your qualifications for the job and in the end could make you more marketable in the culture.

Mistake #8 – Replaces All Your Other Marketing Tools

Don’t use your resume as the only marketing tool in your tool belt. Get out into your community and NETWORK! Meet new people and learn about opportunities that may not be posted on a job board. Use other tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media channels.

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Shawna Simcik

Shawna Simcik, MA, CMP is genuinely passionate about utilizing innovative resources and market knowledge to drive organizational, career and individual excellence. As a founding partner at ICC Inc., she firmly believes that the success of a business lives and dies by its people. Acting as an extension to your internal resources, ICC provides people strategies for business results in the areas of Talent Management Consulting, Organizational Effectiveness and Compassionate Outplacement services.

Reach her/follow her/learn more at shawna@innovateicc.com @shawna_icc innovateicc.com or 855-865-4400.

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