On average, a corporate job opening receives roughly 300 applications. In order to stay in the running for an interview, you’ll need a great resume. Even if you have impressive work experience and the perfect skill set for the posted position, one simple resume mistake can get you rejected. Below is some advice on a few of the most common resume mistakes I see and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Objective Statements
This is more of a personal preference, but I think objective statements on resumes are unnecessary. It should be understood that when you apply for a job, your objective is to land the job. Instead of an objective statement, I’d rather see a professional overview or summary that talks about the highlights of your career.
With that being said, if you decide to include an objective statement, you should know that this is an area in which I commonly find mistakes. I cannot tell you how many resumes I have thrown into the trash for having an objective statement that says, “Obtain job at [wrong company name]” or “Relocate to [a city the company is not in].” If you choose to include an objective statement, make sure that any identifying information is tailored to fit the correct company.
2. Including Too Much Information
Another mistake I see consistently is trying to pack every experience or job you’ve ever held on your resume. Rather than the full novel of your career, your resume should be a synopsis. The idea that resumes should never be longer than one page is outdated, but your resume still should not take me an hour to read. No resume can (or should) include every possible duty and achievement in a job seeker’s life. Instead, summarize your career by highlighting the best and most relevant parts.
3. Your Information Is Difficult to Find
The next mistake you might be making on your resume is forcing the reviewer to work too hard to find the information they’re looking for. An experienced hiring manager is going to spend less than 30 seconds reviewing each resume. If they don’t find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds, they might move on to the next resume.
With this in mind, make sure to list the most important information first. Your name, professional summary, and most current job title should all be placed at the top of the page. In addition to this, use a layout that makes relevant information easy to find. I advocate using reverse chronological order to list jobs and bullet points for job highlights rather than paragraph format.
4. Not Tailoring Your Resume to the Position
A big mistake that will hurt you during your job search is not tailoring your resume to the position. It’s a good idea to have a “master” resume file, but it is not smart to use the same resume for every application. The positions you’re applying for will probably have similar duties and qualifications, but each company will almost certainly place more emphasis on specific skills and experience than the others do.
When reading the job posting, think about how you can adjust your resume so that the hiring manager sees how you fit the job description quickly. That usually means rearranging the bullet points in your experience section to place the most relevant tasks at the top of the page. You may also want to adjust your professional summary to highlight appropriate achievements.
5. Forgetting the Cover Letter
As a huge proponent of cover letters, I cringe when I see applications without them. Cover letters are a great way to set yourself apart from other candidates, flaunt your personal brand, and explain any gaps in your resume. Unless the company specifically tells you not to write a cover letter, you should always provide a unique, tailored cover letter when applying for a job.
Don’t let a simple resume mistake be the reason you didn’t get a job. Be aware of these common mistakes and correct any that might appear on your resume. With a great resume (and some luck), you’ll land an interview or two in no time!