Six Cringe-Worthy Resume Writing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

If you are a job seeker, then you understand there is no frustration quite like sending copy after copy of your resume out for every available opening — only to hear nothing more than cricket chirps instead of the phone ringing.

While there could be any number of reasons for this to occur, one real possibility to consider is that your resume needs improvement. Take the time to review your resume objectively to see if any of the following mistakes are causing you to miss out on landing your next job.

Mistake #1: Selfish Objectives

Understanding your own objective is an important aspect of your resume. Where things go wrong is when you include an “objective” statement on your resume that is less about the employer and what you can do for them and more about you and what you want.

The inclusion of a traditional objective statement on a resume has been an outdated practice for many years, and at my company, we find ourselves having to steer many clients away from this.

Think instead along the lines of a profile that conveys what you can offer the prospective employer, aligning your relevant qualifications to their needs, while illustrating how you will produce a return on investment for them. This simple change can make an immense difference, ensuring you stand out as an obvious choice to interview and ultimately hire.

Mistake #2: Being Broad And General

Keeping your resume broad and general can seem appealing. Many clients request that we create a “general” resume — as if shying away from the specifics will stop them from being pigeonholed into a particular role. This is something I never recommend.

Before we can even begin writing a resume, we help those clients narrow their focus. If you don’t lead with the very best of who you are as a professional, and a very clear message about what you have to offer, the paper you send may as well be blank.

You have less than 15 seconds to get attention. If what hiring managers see doesn’t immediately grab their attention, they will move on to the pile of other applicants.

Mistake #3: Being Generic

Generic resumes focus on position responsibilities and the “baseline” qualifications that most everyone in your profession brings to the workplace. Many times, generic resumes showcase soft skills as well. Written in this generic manner, your resume will not differentiate you from your competitors and won’t help get you the interview.

Your resume is the platform for you to show how you have contributed in the workplace, how you have benefited past employers, and how that will translate into an asset for a potential new employer. Focus on accomplishments rather than responsibilities, and provide examples that showcase your strengths.

Mistake #4: Too Much Detail

Not to be confusing, but the opposite of being too broad is including too much detail. When describing the scope of your job or giving your previous job descriptions, it’s critical that you place more focus on the accomplishments and achievements you have made rather than the tasks that were assigned to you. Prospective employers want to find an amazing employee, so give them a window into how that will be you. A description of the precise details of your work is better left for another time. Write succinctly, emphasize only those details relevant to the reader, and make every word count.

Mistake #5: This Isn’t All About You

Yes, your resume is about you and showing your best side, but it isn’t a place for an epic autobiography. If what you are writing doesn’t pertain to your current career goals or it isn’t relevant to the position you’re applying for, then it shouldn’t be included. Have you completed unrelated training or have you been awarded certifications in an area unrelated to your current career focus? Leave it out. Apply the same principle to your entire resume.Likewise, too personal of information should never be shared in your resume. Things like a photo, birth date, unrelated hobbies, family information, or other such personal details could work against you rather than in your favor. Stick to the facts that are pertinent to your objective.

Likewise, information that is too personal should never be shared in your resume. Things like a photo, birth date, unrelated hobbies, family information, or other such personal details could work against you rather than in your favor. Stick to the facts that are pertinent to your objective.

Mistake #6: Don’t Be A Cookie Cutter

Using a template for resume writing is a big no-no. It is too impersonal, which leaves you to blend in with the crowd of your competitors rather than standing out. To break out of the mold, consider a unique format and design highlighting your specific qualifications and accomplishments.

Understand that many of the best practices of resume writing from 10 or 20 years ago are no longer relevant. Review your resume and make sure you aren’t making these six mistakes. Then take a fresh look at your resume and rewrite it to illustrate why you are an ideal candidate.


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