5 Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes on Their Resume


So, you’ve submitted your resume for a great job opportunity. Do you envision the employer pouring himself a cup of coffee, settling into his chair, kicking off his shoes, and devouring every word of your resume with undivided attention? Not exactly. He’ll devote six seconds to scanning your resume and if you have made even one of these fatal mistakes, your resume gets tossed. All your hard work — in the garbage. Don’t let that happen. Avoid these 5 resume mistakes to give your resume a chance!

The #1 Mistake: 

Failing to show how you meet the job requirements.
Employers try to be very specific when listing their job requirements in order to reduce the pool of applicants. They want candidates who closely match the job requirements to streamline the screening process.

Yet, up to 75% of the resumes they receive do not show how the applicants specifically meet the job requirements that are so specifically listed in the ad. As hard as it is to believe, most resumes submitted, even today in 2017, are vague and full of irrelevant, useless information that contains no value to the employer because it is not relevant to the job he needs to fill.

If you are qualified to apply for the job, your resume should include all (or most) of the keywords and phrases used in the job posting’s description. You should develop your own descriptions using keywords and phrases they used in the ad. If your previous work experience qualifies you to apply for the job, you should have no trouble describing how you are qualified, using their keywords naturally in your descriptions. Employers and HR recruiters spend an average of six seconds scanning a resume. They are looking for only two things:

1. how applicants’ qualifications directly meet their requirements and,

2. the applicants’ years of direct, relevant experience.

That’s it, and it takes only six seconds to find out what they need to know.
Generic resumes are a waste of your time and get read only when no other qualified applicant has applied for the job. Today, 300,000 Albertan’s are looking for jobs — employers are inundated with qualified applicants. If you aren’t sure what a generic resume is, please call me!

The #2 Mistake

Including every job you’ve ever had, no matter how irrelevant or long ago.
A resume isn’t meant to be an exhaustive accounting of every job you’ve ever held. The employer doesn’t care about anything you’ve done that is not relevant the job he needs to fill. Job-seekers tend to fill their resumes with all of their work experience thinking a potential employer may find some value in their previous, unrelated work experience. Not so! Employers are interested in only how you are qualified to fill the positions they need to fill. They need you to speak directly to, and only about, the job requirements listed in the job ad and how you meet them. That is all employers and HR Recruiters are interested in!

The #3 Mistake

Listing only job duties, rather than accomplishments.
Resumes that really stand out go way beyond showing a laundry-list of job duties. Today’s resumes are all about describing accomplishments and achievements. That doesn’t mean writing a book about what you did in each job — it means describing not only what you did, but how you did it. That is easily accomplished in a single, meaningful sentence. Let’s look at some before and afters.

Duty: drove crews to job sites.

Accomplishment: maintained a spotless safe-driving record within the company while promptly transporting daily crews to and from job sites by planning routes and leaving time for unforeseen conditions.

I don’t know about you but I am actually able to visualize this person conscientiously driving a crew truck and making sure he gets those guys to the job site on time. I love it! It’s a single sentence packed with meaning! Once you start thinking about not only what you did, but how you did it, you’ll easily come up with some meaningful duty descriptions to wow-up your resume.

The #4 Mistake

Including subjective descriptions.
Your resume is a document to describe experience and accomplishments only. It’s not the place to offer subjective traits, like “great leadership skills” or “creative innovator.” Hiring managers generally ignore anything subjective that an applicant writes about his or herself, because so many people’s self-assessments are wildly inaccurate. However, if you do have great leadership skills and that attribute is relevant to the job requirements, refer to Mistake #2. Create a meaningful sentence describing how and why you are/have been a great leader. Quantify!

By describing how you gained and used your leadership skills you quantify your claim and show you have a valid definition of what a great leader is. Here is another before and after.

Skill: great leadership skills.
Another yawn.

Accomplishment: formed, led, and motivated a five-person office-renovation committee coordinating human resources so efficiently the project was completed early and under budget.

Wow! Again, I am visualizing this great person (that people obviously like) and I want to meet her and ask her how she did it! If you can not substantiate your claims with a simple, meaningful sentence, don’t bother launlisting them on your resume.

The #5 Mistake

Relying on outdated sources of advice.
Resume conventions have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. If you’re reading a book that insists you should use an Objective on your resume, chances are good you’re reading something outdated (or listening to someone who hasn’t written a successful resume in the past ten years). Do not buy or borrow printed books on resume writing. By the time the writer finishes writing the book, and it goes to publishing, and finally hits the bookstore shelves, it’s outdated! You can go online, but a word of caution; there’s a lot of bad advice out there!

I spend countless hours conducting research and pull my information from several resources, one of which, perhaps the most reliable, is Recruiting Agencies. These agencies would not be in business if they could not furnish their clients with qualified employees. Recruiting agency personnel are in close relationships with the employers and HR departments who hire them to find qualified people. They know what employers are looking for, and they know, in turn, what they need to see on resumes to develop a viable pool of suitable applicants.

Richard Allen is a consultant with David Alpin Group, a recruiting agency in Calgary. He considers my resumes among “the best he’s seen”. (His words!).

Most people think their resume is good. They think that by listing all of their previous work experience they are exhibiting what a good worker they are, how much experience they have, how many times they’ve been hired, all the skills they have acquired, and on and on. The fact is it’s just wrong. They’re missing the point of a resume, and what makes a good resume.

A good resume is one that:

• clearly and quickly shows the employer you are qualified, according to his description of qualifications required to do the job he needs done
• shows only your work experience that is directly related to the work he needs done — not your entire, irrelevant work history
• does not throw a bunch of meaningless words at him but rather describes not just what you did, but how you did it

I write powerful resumes. I know what makes a resume meaningful to a prospective employer and how to powerfully present the information a resume must contain. I also know how to get resumes past resume-screening software, which is used by almost all medium and large companies like Teck Coal, large construction companies, Alberta Health Services, all Government Agencies, all School Boards, all City and Municipal departments, Universities and Colleges, and many more.

Whether your resume is subjected to screening software or is reviewed by human eyes, it must be responsive to the job posting and meaningful to the employer. Remember, they spend only about six seconds scanning resumes looking for the keywords and phrases that match the ones they took the time to spell out in the job description.

Experience is not enough. Education and/or training is not enough. Don’t expect an employer to assume that just because you have had a few years of experience in a job similar to the one he needs done that you are qualified. You have to tell him how you are qualified!

If you’ve read this far chances are you are sending out resumes but getting no response. Why not give Resume Pro a try?

Call Resume Pro 403.563.0408


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2 Responses to 5 Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes on Their Resume

  1. Pingback: If You’re Not getting Interviews Read This | Resume Pro

  2. Pingback: If You’re Not Getting Interviews, Read This | Resume Pro

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