When you think about mistakes on a résumé the first thing that springs to mind is spelling. Whilst this error is something which needs to be avoided at all costs, we are going to bypass the obvious and go straight to the heart of the more ‘hidden mistakes’.
Making these less obvious mistakes is a regular occurrence amongst job seekers, and that’s why we want to share the four most important aspects you need to get right.
Here are four common résumé mistakes you need to avoid:
Failing to provide a performance indicator
If you were to put yourself in the shoes of the employer, what would be one of the most important questions you’d want answering before you hire? We think the answer to this is: ‘How will this person perform for your business?’
Unfortunately, an employer cannot predict the future, but what they can do is gain as much information as possible from the job applications and the interview process. The biggest mistake most job seekers make when writing a résumé is they fail to demonstrate how they performed in the past. Listing all the tasks and responsibilities for each job title is no indicator of performance.
As a job seeker and résumé writer, it’s your responsibility to provide this information and back up your claims with a more detailed approach.
“Including relevant skills and keywords is one thing, but what really makes the difference to an employer is evidence,” Neville Rose explains in The Guardian.
To help you understand how you could do this, here’s an example of a before and after a statement from a sales résumé:
‘I have great communication skills and am able to build up a rapport with all of my customers. I exceed my targets on a consistent basis’
‘During 2018 I hit or exceeded my monthly sales targets a total of 10 times. The revenue generated was a record for the company and totalled $348,000’
As you can see from both the examples above, the first one makes bold statements without any evidence. The second statement doesn’t make any bold claims, and instead simply provides results. An employer would be far more impressed with the second statement as it demonstrates exceptional achievements and a proven track record.
Failing to make your résumé relevant
The hiring manager wants to pick up a résumé and instantly see that the candidate is passionate about the role and the business. If you’re writing a ‘one size fits all’ résumé and posting the same one off to numerous different employers – you are making a big mistake.
A generically written résumé will not show the employer how you will benefit the business, and when compared with a perfectly tailored résumé – there’s just no comparison. If you are truly passionate about the role and determined to get an interview, you need to take special consideration of the company’s needs.
“Study every advert’s requirements” implores Andrew Fennell, writing for the Guardian. “Although it’s fair to assume that you will be somewhat qualified for most jobs in your niche, the CV you have written may still not reflect all the needs for every single vacancy you apply to.”
If you’re applying for more than one role but they have the same or similar job title, you should still adjust your résumé to suit each one. It’s more apparent to see why you should tailor your résumé to each role if they are quite different from one another, but most people will be applying to the same industry and even for the same job title. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d get away with sending off the same résumé, but this could still hinder your chances of success.
No matter how similar the role, each business functions differently with its own unique culture. A lack of understanding when it comes to how the company functions and the requirements of the role will result in an unfocused résumé.
Failing to research the role and the company
“Researching employers is one of the best ways to become a stand-out candidate during the hiring process,” advises Heather Huhman, writing for leading careers advice site Glassdoor.
The job advert is a great place to extract information about the company and the role. But that usually isn’t enough to write a tailored résumé. To write a relevant job application you need to research the company and also try and find out as much about the role as possible.
An interviewer will often ask a candidate if they are aware of what the business does and who their customers are. If you fail to have a basic understanding of how they function you are going to be left with egg on your face. It will show a clear lack of care for the role, and will instantly result in rejection.
However, you are unlikely to even make it to the interview stage if you don’t make the effort to research the company. Your résumé will be far more successful if you are able to narrow down what they are looking for. Your job application needs to be aligned with the company’s goals, the daily requirements of the role, the customer, and the product or service they offer.
Study the company’s website and social media pages, and keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry. Your résumé should show how commercially aware you are and demonstrate an understanding of the current climate. For more ideas, jobs site ‘Indeed’ has a super 11-step guide to researching a company.
Researching the company and tailoring your résumé will dramatically increase your chances of getting an interview. In addition, you will be well equipped to answer any questions about the role or the industry. If you can drop in a conversation about the latest affairs in the industry, you will impress the employer and make a lasting impression.
Using the wrong résumé template
There are two common (incorrect) approaches to drafting a résumé that job seekers take too often: the first is attempting to draft their résumé without the use of a template. This is simply putting in unnecessary work with a likely poor result.
The second is choosing a template so fancy that the HR Manager cannot immediately find the information they are looking for in a few seconds. On average, you have just six seconds to make a good first impression – so don’t make the recruiter’s life difficult.
A plethora of sites offer good quality CV and résumé templates and these days, you don’t need to pay a penny to get one. Favorites include Prospects.ac.uk, a group that specializes in graduate careers: they have a super collection of example CVs in different formats (chronological, academic, skills-based etc) to suit every need. Likewise, CVTemplateMaster.com, a site run by husband-and-wife business and recruitment experts Jen Wiss-Carline and Martin Carline, has almost 200 CV and résumé templates that can be downloaded for free. Neither site asks you to sign up so downloading a professional template has never been easier.