I was extremely qualified for each and every job I applied for, but my resume… well, it sucked.
So you can learn from my mistakes, and the mistakes made on the thousands of resumes I’ve reviewed, here are some of the reasons my resume and many others sucked… and, if you’re making these same mistakes, your’s does, too…
1. An Objective Statement
Many of us make the mistake of including an objective statement on our resume. Please do me (and you) a favor: if you have an “objective” section on your resume, take it off now!
The interviewer does not care about your objective, they only care about theirs. Besides, recruiters and hiring managers already know what your objective is (they know you want the job). From you, they want to know what transferable skills and qualifications you possess that will fulfill the needs of the company and the position.
The Solution: Instead of an objective, have a “Professional Qualifications” or “Summary of Skills” section. Very simply put, the performance summary section is a short, yet compelling three to four sentence – or perhaps five to eight bullet points – summary at the very beginning of a resume that immediately and concisely conveys your value to the employer.
2. A Photo
At one point, I included a photo on my resume. Never again. This is not proper resume protocol.
I know you want your resume to stand out, I know you want the employer to see your pretty face, but this should not drive you to temptation.
The Solution: Please, unless you’re applying for a modeling or acting job…. just leave it off!
3. Funky Designs
As human beings, we all love to express ourselves; we love to show our creativity.
But when it comes to your resume (unless you’re applying for a graphic design position or similar), stay away from fancy funky resume designs. Yes, it will stand out… but not in a good way! It is also tougher for a graphic resume to get through the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) that most companies utilize today.
The Solution: Make sure you resume has a nice, easy-to-read (and easy for an ATS) format. Make sure employers can easily navigate through your resume by making sure there is plenty of white space. I personally beat over 8,000 candidates with the resume template I eventually used during my job search days!
Many individuals have their resumes flooded with responsibilities. It is how we’re taught to write a resume, right?
Responsible for this, responsible for that; fulfilled my responsibilities, blah, blah, blah. The trouble is that responsibilities doesn’t tell the employer what you really did at that job or internship, it only tells the employer what your job description said.
The Solution: – List what we call “quantifiable achievements” – achievements accomplished during your internship or work experience (use actual numbers, percentages and results when possible).
For example; instead of saying “reconciled annual treasury and cash management” say, “Reconciled annual treasury and provided cash management reporting for $10 million in Alumni annual gifts.”
5. High School
Oh goodness. I see this too often when editing resumes.
Please refrain from including your high school education on your resume, which only serves to accomplish two things: it insults the employer’s intelligence and it takes up valuable space on your resume. Besides, the fact that you attended college tells the employer you attended high school, right?
The Solution: Easy. Don’t include anything having to do with your high school years.
Also a common resume mistake; and one that I made for far too long.
Don’t you think that if employers are interested in you, they will simply ask you for your references? Yes, they will. You should not take up valuable space on your resume with “References Available upon Request.” I know your career center probably told you to put this on your resume. Trust me: let this one go.
The Solution: Leave it off, and use that space to sell you!
7. Irrelevant Experience
I recently interviewed Candace Barr and she said it best: “The resume is not a career obituary.” If any part of your past work experience is irrelevant, keep it off your resume.
The Solution: Think about everything you’ve accomplished throughout your college years and internships. Find how what you’ve learned applies to this position at this company; where does the value to the employer lie?
If you’ve held leadership positions, include those. If you did volunteer work, include that as well (remember, just because you did not get paid for something does not stop it from being “work experience”). There are ways to present relevancy in almost every work experience. You just have to find the right frame.
Unless your hobbies are specifically related to the job you are applying for, such as gaming for a company that produces video games, please leave your hobbies off of your resume. Employers do not care about your personal hobbies, they only care about whether you can do the job and fit into their company culture.
The Solution: Leave hobbies off your resume, but prepared to discuss during the final stages of the job interview.
9. Political and Religious Views
Refrain from listing any organizations or membership clubs that has anything to do with politics or religion. This is where discrimination can come into play. Plus, you don’t know the employer who’s reviewing your resume; you don’t know their political or religious views.
The Solution: Be smart. Play this safe. Leave it off.
10. Low Grade Point Averages
While there is no rule of thumb for for when to insert your GPA and when not to, my personal guideline is simple: If it is not a 3.5 or above, do not put it on your resume. And yet far too many times, I see a GPA of less than 3.0 on a resume. Unfortunately, this is advertising just how “average” you were as a student, and perhaps as an employee.
The Solution: As stated, don’t put a GPA lower than 3.5 on your resume.
Go back and take a second look at your resume. Does it, according to these standards, suck? If yes, take the time to restructure your resume… and see better results right away!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Secrets of the Hire!
About the Author: Dayvon Goddard is the founder of Secrets of the Hire, where he focuses on professional and career development for college students and recent graduates through job interview consulting, scholarships, resume consulting, personal branding and LinkedIn workshops. To date, Secrets of the Hire has assisted 1100+ college students and recent graduates find and keep a career they love. Follow Dayvon on Twitter!