I have seen thousands of resumes over the course of my career as a recruiting professional. They are certainly not easy to put together, but they’re necessary in your job search. Your resume, along with your cover letter, likely serve as your first impression with your potential employer. The competition is stiff these days, so it takes skill and precision to get your resume to the top of the pile. I’ve seen just about everything – from great to dreadful throughout the years. I’m happy to share what I believe makes the best first impression possible. With more than 15 years’ experience as a recruiter, this list below is my recommendation for candidates to approach and structure a resume. And, of course, I hope you then apply for one of the exciting open positions we are currently hiring for at the UCPath Center. Take a look at my top 10 common resume mistakes you may want to avoid.
1. Err on the Side of Brevity
If you’ve been working for 30 or more years, you might get away with a longer resume. However, the rest of us need to remember to keep it succinct. I’ve even seen people right out of college with two and three pages to their resume, simply so they can have the necessary keywords to get picked up by searches. At the University of California’s UCPath Center, an actual person looks at each resume that is submitted. If you have multiple pages, it will not necessarily help you. Even if you have been working a while, what you did in 1977 may not apply to today’s environment. Best to keep your resume to the last 10 years or so.
2. Keep your Resume Format Simple and Clean
You don’t have to go out and have an outside company or firm do your resume for you. But, you do want to put it in a nice, clean format with a consistent font and font size. Pick a neutral, easy-to-read font type such as Arial or Times New Roman—no Comic Sans, please!
3. Watch Out for Typos and Grammar Errors
If you’re applying for a Staff Accountant or Payroll position, for example, and you have three typos in the top half of your resume, you may be disqualified. Hiring managers (those with the need to fill the position) need you to demonstrate a strong attention to detail and typos don’t illustrate that. Don’t rely solely on spellcheck and ask someone else to proofread it. Many times, computer programs or spellcheck won’t pick up on the “your/you’re” kind of errors.
Pro tip: consider running your resume text through a service like Grammarly to verify your spelling and grammar are looking good.
4. No Photos, Please
Save those for Facebook! Plus, photos take up valuable resume real estate better served by explaining why you’re the ideal candidate for the job opening.
5. Avoid Irrelevant Information
Don’t include extraneous details. Stick to your work history and competencies.
6. Include Dates
A recent trend I have noticed is that some people have started to leave out major time periods on their resume when they worked at a particular job. Please don’t do this (it may appear that you are trying to cover up holes in employment). It’s best to be honest at all times.
7. Keep Your Resume Up to Date
Be sure to add your most recent, pertinent work history to your resume. If we take the time to call you for an interview and you reference a job you don’t have listed on your resume, it may be confusing and difficult to follow. It may appear that you didn’t care enough to take the time to prepare properly and thoroughly. Remember the attention to detail point I mentioned earlier?
8. Tailor Your Resume to the Job
You don’t need to have 20 resumes ready to go (per se), but you should have at least a few variations tailored to the job position that you are applying for. Each should highlight different skill sets that make sense for the position. Applying for a role in Employee Services (aka Customer Service)? Be sure to mention your relevant customer service-related skills. Also, highlight your transferrable skills—don’t make the recruiter connect the dots.
9. Use a Format That’s Easily Uploaded
People have sent me resumes as text in the body of an email or even copied and pasted from their LinkedIn profile. Use something that everyone, including recruiters and hiring managers, can open — such as a Microsoft Word document or PDF file.
10. Don’t Include an Irrelevant Objective
I’ve seen resumes that mentioned the desire for an HR position when the person’s resume is completely accounting-related (or vice versa). If you’re making a job/career change, you can touch on that in your cover letter; however, list your technical skills and certifications that may be relevant to the position you’re applying for.
The truth of the matter is that hiring managers are extremely busy people. They may only have 15 to 30 seconds to look at your resume! Avoid these pit falls for those precious seconds to count.