Whether you’re a career newbie or just haven’t had to job hunt in a while, you want to make sure you get the resume right. Here are five cardinal resume sins to make sure you don’t commit, and what to do instead.
Having a resume that is too long
Nobody wants to read your novel of a resume. And more importantly, nobody has the time! If your resume isn’t snappy and concise it’s going to bore your reader (i.e. your future boss). And you don’t want your future boss deciding you’re a snooze-fest before you even get invited to an interview. Your resume should be 2 pages max.
Including details that don’t matter
If you’re an Excel macros wizard but that’s not remotely relevant to the job you’re applying for, why on earth would you include it on your resume? Write only about the bits of your experience that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you don’t, the important bits will get lost in a soup of irrelevant information. Edit, edit, edit.
Submitting a vanilla, generic resume
You should customize your resume for every job you apply for. I know, I know, that’s so much work! You know what else is so much work? Applying for a zillion jobs with a vanilla, generic resume that nobody is going to look at because you put zero effort into customizing it for the job. If you can’t bring yourself to customize your resume you’re probably applying for jobs you’re not even remotely psyched about anyway. Repeat after me: Fewer job applications, better resumes.
For god’s sake, include some white space. It makes the reader feel like they can take a breath. It also punches up and highlights what you actually DO say. It’s a psychological thing. When you look at an overstuffed page it feels stressful, but when you look at one with some white space you feel more at ease. Don’t stress out the person who is reading your resume. Also, make sure no bullet is longer than two lines. (You want bullets, not paragraphs.)
Not speaking the language
Your chances of being taken seriously are greater when you speak the language of the employer. For example, if you notice that the job posting uses the word “collaboration” a lot but your resume uses the word “teamwork”, go ahead and use their language instead. Keywords are important not only for getting past the first review (which is often electronic), but also to make your eventual human reader feel like you speak the language of the organization. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. And you want the job, don’t you?