Are You Making These 5 Surprising Resume Mistakes?
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I’ve scanned over 10,000 resumes in my career. I can tell you that there are certain key resume mistakes that way too many candidates continue to make. Here’s my advice: when you’re writing your resume, don’t think of it as a history document. Instead, consider yourself as a product. It’s your job to sell yourself to your potential employer by highlighting what you can do for them.

This is what I call your value offering. It’s not just a description of your past experience, it’s your opportunity to compellingly pitch what you can uniquely do for your employer based on your background and experience.

Here are five resume mistakes you must avoid:

1. Including an objective statement.

When you first learned how to write a resume, chances are you were taught that you should open with an objective statement. I’m here to tell you that trends have changed, and this statement functions more as a waste of space than it does a selling point. Since you’ve submitted an application to the job, it’s safe to say that your potential employer knows you want it. This makes objective statements redundant.

In place of this, create a powerful personal branding statement that includes 2-3 sentences about the value you can create for your employer. Be concise and strategic about how you target this to the position you’re applying for.

2. Using passive (or arrogant) language.

Be very careful about the tone you take in your resume. Until they meet you in your interview, your Hiring Manager only knows you by what they read. If you take a passive or arrogant tone, they will assume that this reflects on your personality.

Passive words include phrases like ‘responsible for’ ‘assisted’ ‘worked to’. Replace these with words like ‘devised’, ‘created’, or ‘spearheaded’ to create a great first impression. Similarly, while we are talking about a marketing document, arrogant language is a major resume mistake. Avoid describing yourself as ‘infamous’, ‘superior’, or ‘exceptional’. Instead, focus on the value you’re able to create based on your skills.

3. Forgetting keywords relevant to your targeted role.

When a Recruiter scans your resume, the first thing they’ll look for are keywords that match the job they’re hiring for. The more closely your keywords align with the ones on the job posting, the easier it will be for your Recruiter to see that your application is highly relevant. My top advice is to critically analyze the job posting alongside similar postings from other companies. This will help you discover important keywords that you should be including in your resume.

4. Leaving out critical numbers to catch attention

Regardless of what type of roles you’ve held in the past, your resume should generally contain a fair amount of numbers that quantify your success. Numbers stand out from text and effectively catch Recruiters’ attentions. Some numbers you might want to consider are:

  • Cost savings you’ve helped achieve
  • Revenue you’ve generated
  • Sales figures
  • Event attendance
  • Performance ratings

5. Using more than two fonts or colours.

A major resume mistake I often see is when candidates use too many fonts and colours in their documents. This gives off a poor first impression and can look cluttered, mismatched, or unprofessional. Remember what I mentioned before? Your resume will be interpreted as a reflection of your personality. With that in mind, unless you’re a trained Designer, I recommend keeping the colours and font sizes to a minimum.

Do you have any questions about resume writing? Let me know in the comments section!

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Diana YK Chan

Diana YK Chan

Diana is a former Recruiter turned Career Coach, Speaker and Trainer at My Marketability. She helps ambitious professionals and executives design the next chapter of their life, navigate transformational changes, and land incredible opportunities with a higher income. She’s an expert at distinguishing people’s unique brand value, mastering their messages and networking with confidence to gain a competitive edge. She’s recognized by JobScan as one of the Top 10 Job Search Experts to follow on LinkedIn.