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7 Ways To Mess Up a Resume + 2 Ways To Really Stuff It Up

It's like playing bingo, but without the prize

We placed ads in gumtree, seek and LinkedIn, and we have been flooded with resumes. Unfortunately most people don’t get past the resume stage because of the fundamental mistakes in their resume. We have numbered them so that we have a shorthand method of identifying them. 

If you are updating your resume, don’t make these simple mistakes and you will automatically be in the top 10% of applicants.

But we left the best 2 for last!

Mistake 1: Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes

Most resumes are created in Word and it highlights the typos. At least fix them. There is no excuse for simple spelling mistakes and typos.

Our best one so far is an address in “Stratified”, in big, bold letters, as line 3 on the resume. That’s a bit harder to find, so get someone to check your resume.

And don’t get me started on grammatical mistakes. There are some jobs where grammar is not important, but it really is a differentiating feature in resumes.

Mistake 2: Formatting Mistakes

Even the standard resume templates in Word are better than some of the messes that we are seeing. 

If we have to go searching for information then it may as well not be there. If it looks like a mess, we won’t give it a second look. Just keep it clean and simple.

Mistake 3: Live 3 hours away

This one was really noticeable for us because this time we stated the person had to be local. 

It amazes us how far people are prepared to travel for a job. While you think it may indicate keenness, to us it shouts “desperately unemployed”. 

The real problem is that in 6 months time you will hate the commute and will be looking for a new job. 

Mistake 4: Job jumping

Have an employment history of no more than 6 months in any one job shows either a lack of commitment, or you have some serious issues. 

Of course it may also indicate that you are on a special working visa and can only work for 6 months at a time. If you are job jumping for a valid reason, make sure that it is obvious.

Mistake 5: No referees

This one is debated in the office. Personally I think referees are hugely overrated because everyone has good referees, but I do agree that no referees tends to imply that you have recently had a bad run and no-one is prepared to vouch for you. Even “referees available upon request” is a better start and gives you a chance to explain why the referee is your neighbour’s pool cleaner from 30 years ago.

Mistake 6: Include absolutely everything

I am sure that there are some people who write down every single acronym and buzzword that they can think of. Maybe they think recruiters just do a word search and don’t actually read the resume.

Then there are resumes where the person did everything from CEO all the way down to polishing the door handles.

The problem with both of these is that I have absolutely no idea what you are actually good at, and so assume that you know none of it.

Mistake 7: Selfie photos

I think photos on resumes are a great idea. They allow you to immediately “put a face to the name” and show that you are friendly and approachable. They can show that you are young and vibrant, or mature and wise.

But please don’t include a selfie taken in the bathroom showing off your new hair cut.

Big Mistake 1: Social media

Be very careful what your social media pages say about you.

The obvious ones are about the photos that are on your page. It only takes 2 minutes to have a quick glance through the photos and hide the ones you don’t want to reveal to the world.

What many people overlook are comments and what they say about you. Your mates may think it is funny to be called some of those things, but would a future employer be impressed by your opinions and attitude?

The Number One Big Huge Mistake: Your resume is all about you

I am going to be really, really blunt … no-one reads your resume to find out about you. If you want to share your life, get a Facebook account (and don’t blow the tip above).

Employers read your resume to find out one thing – “is this person able to meet my needs?”

A good resume isn’t about sharing your life’s story. It’s not even about pointing out all of your achievements or skills. Your resume is about showing that you are capable of doing what is required, you have the right attitude for the role, and that you will fit into the culture of the company.

We had a great laugh with a resume that started with “I am keen to develop a career within the banking and finance industry”. My company is not in the banking and finance industry and so I didn’t have to read another line to know this person was totally wrong. 

As I read many resumes I am struck by how many “so what?” points are included. Mistake 6 (include everything) highlights the fact that most people are so caught up thinking about themselves that they aren’t considering what the reader is thinking. 

My advice is simple – for every job application you make, read the job ad and then your resume. If the two aren’t in synch, then change your resume. If your experience demonstrates a required skill then mention the benefit it brought your previous employer. If the skill has no bearing on the job then either drop it out or keep it brief.

The perfect resume is one in which I read it and think “wow, it is like this person was inside my head when I was writing the job ad”. 

End of rant.

My job listing is still out there. If anyone is doing their homework and checking out the company before they apply, and they have read this, and acted upon it then I may as well just give you the job.

That’s if you still want it. 

Apparently there’s also the principle of “don’t give unsolicited advice” which I just blew.

And a big thank you to Daimien Patterson from Integrity Property for coming up with the initial list.

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