TopResume's career advice expert explains why these resume mistakes drive recruiters nuts — and what you can do to avoid them.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our latest edition of #OfficeHours, presented by TopResume! This time, I had the pleasure of being joined by recruiting expert David Gaspin to discuss the top resume mistakes that recruiters consider deal-breakers, per our latest recruiting survey, and what job seekers can do to avoid them.
I also announced a new contest where TopResume will give one lucky winner a free resume makeover each month. Click on the following link to enter to win a free resume makeover.
Below is a link to the video of our Live Chat, a summary of our resume-writing tips on how to avoid the top resume mistakes that make recruiters cringe, and our responses to your resume-writing questions. For more career advice and information about upcoming events, please like us on Facebook and sign up for our free weekly newsletter.
The 10 Most Common Resume Mistakes — and How to Avoid These Deal-Breakers
We recently asked 379 former and current recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources professionals, “What are your biggest resume 'deal-breakers' that can cost a candidate the job?” They came up with the following list of top 10 resume mistakes:
Spelling and/or grammatical errors (80%)
Incorrect or missing contact information (52%)
Unprofessional email address (46%)
Outdated or irrelevant information (hobbies, age, marital status, etc.) (45%)
Failure to demonstrate and quantify results (33%)
Annoying buzzwords and/or obvious keyword stuffing (32%)
Too generalized/not customized to match job listing (32%)
Repetitive words or phrases used in multiple job descriptions (28%)
Including a headshot (28%)
Format and/or design is too elaborate (23%)
Click on the following link to read the press release with the full results.
Fortunately, many of these resume mistakes can be avoided with a little effort. Check out the video of our Facebook Live Chat below to learn how recruiters interpret these resume mistakes.
#OfficeHours Live Chat: How to Avoid the Most Common Resume Mistakes
A big thanks to my guest David Gaspin for sharing his resume advice. Click on the following link for more resume-writing tips to help you avoid the top resume mistakes.
Q1: Should I take a recruiter's advice on my resume?
“Is it advisable to send a recruiter a copy of your resume and work with them to revise it for different positions?” — Vanisha
The job of any recruiter is to fill a job vacancy, so if he or she offers you resume writing advice, it's a good idea to take it. This is especially true for contingency recruiters, whose pay is “contingent” upon their candidate being hired. If a contingency recruiter thinks you might be right for the job, they will likely work harder to make sure you get it, which could include offering ways to tweak your resume in the right direction. When it comes down to it, a recruiter's goals are the same as yours — landing the job. Any advice given is in both of your best interests.
Q2: Will adding a P.S. at the end of my cover letter make it more effective?
“I've heard that a P.S. at the end of a cover letter is more visible than the rest of the letter. What are your thoughts on including one? Have there been studies about this?” — Doug
Adding a P.S. to your cover letter is a risky move. Before you even consider making that move, think about the culture of the company you are applying to. Many may see it as informal and careless, but some may be fine with it. Don't add one unless you know for sure, though — you don't want something working against you if you can avoid it.
Generally speaking, we don't advise it. Anything that you might want to include in your cover letter as a P.S. should already be in the letter itself. If you do decide to add one, know that what you are saying with it has to be extremely important. Your cover letter will likely not be well-received otherwise. You've made the risky move — make sure it's worth it.
Q3: How can I craft a resume that includes all of my vast work experience but isn't too long?
“I have a lot of experience in a variety of positions. How do I write a resume that shows all of this without writing a novel?” — Helena
Having an expansive work history is great! It's likely that not all of it is relevant to your current job search, though. When crafting your resume, start by writing out all of your experience. Then, pick and choose what's applicable to the types of roles you're interested in. By doing this, you'll have a resume that is not only the appropriate length but also optimized for your job search.
Remember, too, that not all work history requires excruciating detail. What you did 20 years ago is not as important as what you've done in the past 10. The further back you go in your professional timeline, the less detail you need to include. Limit your work history to titles, company names, and dates, or even add a career note stating “Previous Experience Includes” and list the positions you held. You want to make it clear that you were still working during this time — this isn't an employment gap — but you do not need to be specific about experience that is irrelevant or far in the past.
Q4: How do I address gaps in my employment on my resume?
“If I am returning to work after sustaining an injury, how do I address the employment gap?” — Helena
You don't need to address this on a resume, especially if there is a solid work history from before the gap. Let your experience speak for itself. If the employment gap is addressed in an interview, you can explain your hiatus without going into too much detail. Keep the focus on the fact that you're back and ready to roll in the workforce.
Related: How to Handle Gaps in Your Employment History
Q5: How different should my resume and LinkedIn profile be?
“Should my LinkedIn profile mirror my resume?” — Vanisha
If you are currently searching for a job, it's not a bad strategy for your resume and LinkedIn profile to mirror each other. After all, LinkedIn is a significant part of your job application materials — it is sometimes even used in lieu of a resume when you come across listings that give you the option to “Apply With LinkedIn.” No matter what you use it for, however, your LinkedIn profile should always tell the same story as your resume. Things like job goals, dates of employment, job titles, and the names of your employers all need to be consistent.
Otherwise, LinkedIn is a great opportunity to add a bit more color and personality. Take advantage of this by sharing articles, and adding links and referrals. Your summary can even be less formal. Doing so will help you build your personal brand online.
Q6: Should I include hobbies on my resume?
“What do you think of including hobbies on a resume?” — Peter
Just like adding a P.S. to a cover letter, you should first consider your audience. This includes both the company overall and the individual people reading your resume because you don't want to include something that may negatively sway opinions of you. If you do choose to add hobbies to your resume, avoid touchy subjects like religion and politics unless they are totally relevant — if you are applying for a religious organization, for example.
If your hobbies can demonstrate a qualification for the job, you might more seriously consider adding them to your resume, especially if you are making a career change and they can speak to some of your experience in the new field. Otherwise, leave them off to be safe. If you don't need them, there's no reason to have them.
Q7: If the focus of resumes should be on accomplishments, can I still include my position's duties?
“I know you should include accomplishments on a resume, but to fill out the rest, should you also include duties?” — Doug
Of course. It's pretty unrealistic that you could fill an entire resume only with things you have achieved. When it comes to describing your position's duties, it's about how you phrase it. Instead of “responsible for XYZ,” think “created and maintained XYZ.” Characterize your job by detailing what you've done, not what your job description says. This is where action verbs on a resume come into play. Not only will they help you avoid redundant wording, but they will also strengthen your resume by tying your duties to your results.
Avoid making the top resume mistakes. Click on the following link to enter to win a free resume makeover.