The modern job market is a double edged sword. On one hand, job seekers have never had so many options available. The internet gives you direct access to thousands of jobs and simple ways to apply. The downside is you’ll be one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of applicants employers have to work through. Given the volume of resumes they have to review, they will knock someone out for the smallest of reasons. Here are a few mistakes that could cost you:
Over-Engineering Your Resume
Given the challenge of getting noticed, there’s temptation to create a resume layout that “pops”. Curb this instinct. The internet is not kind to complicated formatting. What looks beautiful on your PC can become a busy mess by the time it gets to a company’s inbox. Lots of columns, boxes, page breaks, graphics, and other flourishes can get jumbled by the data transfer process or the settings on the reader’s computer. Enter and tab are your keyboard buttons of choice.
Content makes your resume stand out. Concentrate on getting that right. Speaking of which —
Not Listing Accomplishments
Most resumes concentrate on responsibilities and skills. These are key ingredients but employers also want to know what you got done. They have issues to take care of and want problem-solvers on them. Convince them you’re the right candidate by laying out what you’ve already done.
It’s also another way to stand out. Other applicants may have similar skills but your successes are yours alone.
Are you uncomfortable with the time elapsed between your jobs? Does your degree not match with what you want to do? Are you toward the end of your career but don’t want to be prejudged about your age?
These are the types of things many try to hide on their resume. Typical methods to do this are not including dates (or making them vague), creating summaries that leave out significant details, not listing majors, and straight-up lying. There are practical and moral reasons to not do this. On a moral level, you’re trying to deceive your potential employer and when they discover the truth (and most will); they’ll view you as untrustworthy. On a practical level, these tricks are transparent to any experienced resume reader. They’ll knock you out before giving you a second look.
Your best bet with potential negatives is to deal with them within the resume. Lay out the truth but with a spin that gets your idea across. If you’re concerned about age discrimination, emphasize your energy and accomplishments. If there’s too much space between positions, give quick explanations. If your degree doesn’t match, emphasize your experience that does. You’ll have to deal with all of these things sooner or later. Sooner is better.
This is a short list but they’re common mistakes that can knock you out of the running before you get a real chance to prove yourself.