Don't Be Basic With Your Resume

Resume (noun. rez·əˌmeɪ) is defined as "a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience" but really should be defined as the necessary evil on which we squeeze our life’s accomplishments in hopes that it is impressive enough to be recognized in the three-second scan by a hiring manager to make it into the “Yes” pile.

Resumes are unforgiving and yet, many people simply do not spend enough time making theirs the best reflection of themselves. Essentially, some are just too basic.

Most people dig up their resumes and only update them when in job hunt mode - at which time you’ve forgotten the details of the amazing things you’ve done at your current role. Instead, you look for the generic job description that the company used in recruiting you and use that as the template for your resume. The bullets lack thoughtfulness because you didn’t have “time” to make any real improvements. What you end up with are dry, purposeless bullets and are surprised/disappointed that you didn’t get selected for a phone screen or interview. Sound familiar?

We've both been involved in recruiting efforts at work and have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes. Time and time again, the same mistakes pop up. Without fail, some of these same issues keep showing up:

  • Typos, including inconsistent punctuation
  • Poor / inconsistent formatting
  • Oversimplified bullet points that list out your tasks and lack purpose/impact
  • Not tailoring your resume to the job you want and instead using a “one size fits all” approach
  • Starting a bullet with “Responsible for…” and not using strong action verbs
  • Not using past tense for prior experiences
  • Resumes more than one page (if not a senior exec)
  • Not including a snippet on yourself outside of work (hobbies/interests; volunteering; clubs/activities during college/postgraduate years)
  • Font selection (Times New Roman, really?)

Better yet, have an honest friend or two review your resume and see if you’re a culprit of any of the above. The beauty of a resume is that it is always a work in progress. So don’t get too comfortable and be open to change and critique for improvements as it is often the first impression you make.

I’ll be posting tips on how to fix some of these common blunders in the coming weeks.

What other resume mistakes have you seen? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!