by Emma Hogan


The Worst Resume Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Your resume represents you. OK, maybe not your entire personality but certainly your professional experience and education. Your resume is your chance to show off to a prospective employer, highlighting your skills, abilities, work experience and academic achievements. Your resume is also a prime opportunity to provide an holistic overview of your work/life experience to date. Spent time in a foreign country working in vineyards? Put it on your resume – most prospective employers appreciate a team player who has gained confidence through different life experiences. Volunteered for a charity? Definitely provide a description of your work helping others, even if you were only there for a short period of time. The fact is, there are many ways you can make your resume stand out from other candidates – but it is probably more helpful to outline the most common resume mistakes – and advise on how to avoid repeating them yourself.

Pay Attention to Gramar Grammar and Typos

This one may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised how many people overlook the importance of spelling and grammar on their resume.  To repeat, your resume is your opportunity to show off your skills – so it makes sense that all text should be clear, concise, grammatically correct and entirely error free. Not only does this mean making use of the spellchecker but it also involves an understanding of the basics of punctuation. Maybe it seems a little pedantic but try not to split your infinitives or begin a sentence with a conjunction – if you really do want to make the best impression. Prospective employers are more likely to offer an interview based on the contents of a well written and grammatically correct resume than one which contains a litany of basic mistakes.

Keep Your Resume Clear

By clear, we mean as ‘unfussy’ as possible.  If your resume is three or four pages long with paragraph after paragraph of text, you can pretty much guarantee your prospective employer will throw it in the trash.  A savvy boss will be on the look out for a resume which provides information in an easily accessible format, preferably bullet pointed and not too lengthy. Put yourself in their shoes – in today’s economic  climate, job advertisements can procure hundreds of responses and a good boss will be looking for a well formatted resume. Ask friends or family to give you an honest opinion about your resume and whether it really is easy reading – and if it isn’t? Start cutting, pasting and editing – or hire a copy editor to do the job for you.

Be Specific About Work Experience and Your Objectives

Keep your resume as specific as possible.  Saying you worked with children is OK, but far better would be a list of all of your key tasks and what they entailed. For example, stating that you ‘supervised a playgroup’ sounds fine but more impressive would be a list of responsibilities you undertook successfully – i.e ‘maintaining a safe environment, ensuring welfare of children’ etc. Likewise, your objectives need to be as clear as possible. If you are looking to acquire a temporary contract with a view to becoming a permanent employee, you need to state this in your key objectives. Or if you are simply looking for a filler job to fit around other commitments, be honest. Ultimately, your honesty is your best asset and a good employer will spot a faker a mile away based on the contents of their resume.

Be Prepared to Amend your Resume to Suit the Job

Too many people make the mistake of thinking that one resume will fit all jobs. This simply isn’t true – the likelihood is, your resume will need editing and amending to suit the specific job for which you are applying.  A customer service position will suit a resume which waxes lyrical about all of the customer experience you have – and an administrative post will need to go heavy on the office procedures and computer programmes you have worked with.  You need to keep your resume streamlined – and adapting it to each type of job is one way to achieve this. You could try drafting a couple of paragraphs ready to be included within each resume but do keep in mind the type of job you are applying for and make sure you appeal to your future boss.




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