HOW TO WRITE A CONSTRUCTIVE RESUME
You have very little time to impress recruiters with your resume. So the last thing you want to do is to make an easily avoidable mistake.
To find out the worst resume mistakes that are way too common — beyond grammatical errors and typos — we reached out to Amanda Augustine, career expert at The Ladder
These common blunders would almost immediately send your resume to the trash bin.
1. It's too long.
Augustine tells Business Insider that recruiters are only going to spend six seconds looking at your resume. So the longer your resume is, the more difficult it will be for recruiters to scan it. An appropriate length is one to two pages.
2. Using an inappropriate email address.
Email is the preffered from of communication in today's workplace, so there's no excuse for you not to have an appropriate email address. Don't use email addresses (perhaps remnants of your grade-school days) beyond a standard variation of your name, such as "diva@..." or "babygirl@...," says Augustine.
3. Including your headshot.
Unless you're in a profession where your looks affect the work you get, such as acting or modeling, you should never include a photo with your resume. Including a photo greatly increases the chance you'llbe discriminated against, and the recruiter will spend too much time looking at your picture instead of considering whether your skills fit the open position.
An eye-tracking heatmap created by The Ladder found that when recruiters check out your professional online profile, they spend 19% of the total time eyeing your picture, which means that not so much time is spent on your skills, specialties, or past work experiences. Since recruiters only spend 6 seconds reviewing a resume, it's not a good idea to have them spend too much time scanning irrelevant information, says Augustine.
4. Leaving out a URL to your professional online profile.
Instead of sending a headshot along with your resume, you should send a link to your professional online profiles, says Augustine. This will enable hiring managers to see what you look like after they've already spent an appropriate amount of time examining your resume.
Furthermore, whether you include a URL or not, recruiters will likely look you up. In fact, 86% of recruiters admit to reviewing candidates' online profiles, says Augustine, so why not include your URL along with your contact information? This will prevent recruiters from having to guess or mistaking you for someone else.
5. Embedding tables, images, or charts.
"Avoid adding any embedded tables, pictures, or other images in your resume, as this can confuse the applicant-tracking software and jumble your resume in the system," says Augustine.
6. Not aligning your resume with your online profiles.
"Whatever you're going to put out there, make sure your resume and online profiles are telling the same story," Augustine tells us.
"If you have a common name, consider including your middle initial on your resume and online professional profiles to differentiate yourself from the competition," she says. For example, decide if you're Mike Johnson, Michael Johnson, or Mike E. Johnson. Then use this name consistently, be it on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.
7. Leaving out relevant keywords.
Many companies use some kind of screening process to identify the right candidates, and if you don't have the right keywords on your resume, you won't even get through to a hiring manager.
"Identify the common keywords, terminology, and key phrases that routinely pop up in the job descriptions of your target role and incorporate them into your resume (assuming you have those skills)," advises Augustine. "This will help you make it past the initial screenings and on to the recruiter or hiring manager."
8. Using an objective instead of an executive summary.
Objectives are unhelpful and distracting, according to Augustine, so it's a waste of space to include them on your resume. Instead, replace this fluffy statement with an executive summary, which should be like a "30-second elevator pitch" where you explain who you are and what you are looking for. "In approximately three to five sentences, explain what you’re great at, most interested in, and how you can provide value to a prospective employer," Augustine says.
9. Not addressing potential concerns.
Do you require a work visa sponsorship or are you willing to relocate for a job? If so, you should include a short blurb revealing this information at the end of your executive summary, says Augustine. It doesn't have to be long because you can go into more detail in the cover letter.
If you're trying to relocate to another city, remove your current city and state from your resume.
10. Using headers and footers.
It may look neat and concise to display your contact information in the header, but for "the same reason with embedded tables and charts, it often gets scrambled in an applicant tracking system," says Augustine. Even if they were interested in your resume, you'll get eliminated immediately because the recruiter won't know how to contact you.
11. Inconsistent formatting.
"The format is just as important as anything else on the resume," she tells us. "The key is to format the information in a way that makes it easy to scan and recognize your job goals and relevant qualifications."
Make your resume easy to read by sticking to specific formatting rules throughout your resume. For example, if you decide to include the month and year on your resume, you should adhere to this format throughout. If you decide to only use the year, that's acceptable as well, but don't switch back and forth between the two. You should also be consistent with locations and indentations.
12. Using crazy fonts and color.
"Stick to black and white color," says Augustine. As for font, it's best to stick with the basics, such as Arial, Tahoma, or Calibri.
13. Not having enough "white space."
White space draws the reader's eyes to important points. "When you start really messing with the margins on your resume, chances are you're cramming as much as you can in there, and you won't have enough white space," she tells us.
14. Not using reverse chronological order.
This is the most helpful for recruiters because they're able to see what you've been doing in recent years immediately, says Augustine. "The only time you shouldn't do this is if you're trying to transition to another career altogether, but then again, in this situation, you'll probably be relying more on networks," than your resume, she says.
15. Not including a company description.
While it's helpful for recruiters to know the size of the company you used to work for, including a brief description about the company will also let the hiring manager quickly understand the industries you've worked in. For example, an accountant in the tech industry may be considered very differently than an accountant in the hospitality industry.
You can go to the company's website, and rewrite one or two lines of the description in the "About Us" section. This should be included right underneath the name of the company.
16. Using dense blocks of text.
Dense blocks of text are too difficult to read, says Augustine. Instead, you should list your achievements in two to five bullet points per job. Under each job or experience you've had, explain how you contributed to or supported your team’s projects and initiatives. "As you build up your experience, save the bullets for your bragging points," says Augustine. For example, "I generated $50,000 in annual savings by doing..."
17. Including more than 15 years of experience.
You should always tailor your resume based on the job you're applying for, and chances are that when you include experience that's older than 15 years, it won't be of interest to a hiring manager, says Augustine. Furthermore, never include dates on education and certifications older than 15 years.
18. Including irrelevant information.
If you work at a small company and you do a little bit of everything, you really need to think about the responsibilities and accomplishments you've had that are relevant to the job you're applying for, advises Augustine. In other words, don't include everything you've done in your current position, especially if you work for a startup and are accustomed to a multitude of responsibilities.
19. Not including relevant hobbies.
"Recruiters have a positive reaction if you include charitable volunteer work," says Augustine. "Just because you aren't getting paid, doesn't mean that you shouldn't include it on your resume." Again, do make sure to tailor the skills you acquired while participating in the hobby to the job position you're applying for.
20. Including skills that most jobseekers will have.
Should you ever say that you're proficient in standard programs? This depends on what is deemed sought-after in your industry.
"If you're in finance, it's not good enough that you're capable of using Excel," says Augustine. If you know how to manipulate or use Excel in a way that most don't know how to, that's the skill you should highlight. Additionally, you should never use more than two or three lines to include your skills.
21. Writing in the third person or using pronouns in first person.
Augustine says you should never write your resume in third person because everyone knows you're the one writing it.
Instead, you should write it in first person, and do not include pronouns. "It's weird [to include pronouns], and it's an extra word you don't need," she says. "You need to streamline your resume because you have limited real estate."
22. Including "references upon request."
Every recruiter knows you're going to provide references if they request it, so there's no reason for you to include this line. Remember that space on your resume is crucial. Don't waste it on a meaningless line, Augustine tells us.