I review a LOT of resumes because we offer a free resume review as part of our service. Yes, sometimes I see some really good resumes. When that happens, I say so. Of course, just as any chef will tweak another chef’s recipes, resume writers can always tweak a good resume to make it a little bit better. However, a good resume can stand on its own without tweaking and I always let a client know if I think they should go with what they have.
That said, I also see a lot of bad resumes and I’ve noticed over the years they have similar errors. The following areas are the most common errors I see in resumes sent to us for review.
Too long. It’s hard to decide what to keep and what to leave out in a resume, especially when you are emotionally attached to the information. Let’s face it, a resume is your life’s history and you get attached to this stuff. That spelling bee win in the ninth grade was big potatoes to you! Unfortunately, it means nothing to an employer. Employers want to see only information that pertains to the position they are trying to fill. Whittling your resume down to the pertinent information can be painful and is best left to the professionals (us).
Too short. At the other end of the spectrum, some clients just get the bare minimum down – job description, employment history, education. Not enough information is as bad, or worse, than too much information. If your resume reads like a job description, your resume will read like every other candidate’s resume who is aiming at the same job. You have to get in what makes you different, what makes you valuable, and how you can get results for the company.
Task-based. The job description writing I mentioned above usually is information that is task-based. It tells what you did or what you were “responsible for” (I’ll get to that in a minute.) in your job. Some of that is okay and is necessary but if you never say what you accomplished in the execution of those tasks, you have wasted your time.
“Responsible for”. Many spouses are responsible for cleaning the basement, loading the dishwasher, and paying the bills, but that doesn’t mean they do these tasks. Just because you are “responsible for” something doesn’t mean much. How did you execute that responsibility? Anywhere you find the phrases “responsible for” or “duties included” rewrite the sentence and leave those words out. You have just moved from the passive voice to the active voice and given the resume a boost in effectiveness.
Inaccurate contact information. I don’t know how many times I’ve attempted to call someone using the telephone number on the resume only to find it has been disconnected or is no longer in use. Ditto for email addresses. An employer won’t hunt you down so make sure all your contact information is correct and current.