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The Top 10 Resume Mistakes!

The Top 10 Resume Mistakes!

As a certified and professional resume writer in the D.C. area, I have seen a number of common errors and mistakes. Here is my list of these mistakes. Save yourself the time, and, often the embarrassment, by ensuring these mistakes are not in your resume.

10. Misspelled Words
Use Spell Check! I cannot emphasize this enough! It’s not like you have to pay for it. It’s a free tool with your word processing program. When someone gives me their resume and it has misspelled words, I get this sick feeling in my stomach. There is no reason to have a misspelled word in your resume.

9. Verb Tense Confusion
If you performed the job in the past, you are going to add -ed to most of the verbs in your job description. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to do a little grammar refresher and study verb conjugation (remember middle school English class). If you are presently working at a particular job, it should be listed first and the verbs should all be in present tense.

8. Too Many Bullets
People tell me all of the time, “but HR likes bullets”. That may be, but you can’t bullet everything on your resume. Use it sparingly and if you do use it, decide if you are going to write complete sentences (using periods at the end) or not and then BE CONSISTENT. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than five bullets in a section. Figure out some way to divide them up. It is very difficult to read a list of 20 bullets.

7. Objective Statements
They are outdated. It’s better to write a professional summary or a qualifications summary. This makes it less self-centered and more concentrated on what you can do for the employer.

6. One Page
It’s OK if it’s one page naturally, but if you have a long work history, give yourself permission to use more than one page. Of course, if it’s only a matter of a few lines too long, try to fit it onto one page. Use your judgement of whether it looks better on one or spread out onto two pages. We won’t even go into the topic of federal resumes. If you’re writing a federal resume, it’s a whole different story…

5. Acronyms
Have your friend read through it and if they have no clue what your acronyms are, you should write them out. Remember that not every human resources manager is going to know specific acronyms and they are going to be your first audience.

4. “Responsible for…”
This is a huge pet-peeve of mine. Take it out and start with the verb, every time. It will be more concise and it creates an active voice, instead of passive. Of course your were responsible for it, you’re putting it down in your job description.

3. Placement
If there is something really fantastic you did, don’t wait until the end of the page or the second page of your resume to talk about it. Put it on the first page, at the top.This is especially true for recent college graduates. I have seen them list all of their part time jobs and then at the very bottom of the page, they will put a tiny little section about education. If you are a recent grad, put your education above your employment section and don’t be afraid to list some of the individual courses you took or projects you worked on.

2. No Target Job
It’s OK to have a generic resume but as soon as you decide to submit it for a particular job, you’ve got to target it to that job. That means sitting down with the job announcement and making sure everything on the announcement is somewhere in the text of your resume. So, if the employer is looking for someone with excellent customer service skills, you need to mention how and when you utilized excellent customer service skills.

1. Vague Job Descriptions
If you aren’t sure what you did at your job other than answer the phones, go to http://www.bls.gov/oco/ and look up the kind of profession you held. Check out their description and see if it reminds you of other tasks you may have performed. This is an incredibly helpful tool!


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