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What NOT To Do On Your Resume

Written by: Danielle Teigen
Published on: Aug 30, 2017

Resume Being Thrown Away picture

You’re on the job hunt. You’ve been searching job boards, networking with your professional contacts, and chatting with placement agencies. Now you just need to update your resume so you can land your dream job.

Before you make a few verb changes to your role descriptions and call it a day, check out this list of eight things NOT to do on your resume. A hiring manager typically spends 5-7 seconds glancing at a resume.That’s right, seconds. That’s not much time to make a good first impression, which is why you need to make sure you fix any of these issues on your own resume.

Listing every job experience you’ve ever had. Hiring managers don’t care that you were a lifeguard for two summers during high school. They only want to see the specific skills you’ve gleaned from your various jobs that directly relate to the job you’re applying for. Highlight what you accomplished to demonstrate why you’re the best fit for the job.

Waste space with an objective and reference request. This outdated resume component is ONLY necessary if you’re changing industries. If not, you’re just wasting space. Instead, consider a personal branding statement (also called a summary statement). Use your resume to tell the hiring manager who you are as a professional before you even step foot in the building. Be yourself, but be appropriate. Also, if you’re asked to provide references, do it. If not, don’t waste even a single line letting the hiring manager know you can provide them upon request; the hiring manager knows that already.

Regurgitate the job description directly off the company’s website. Don’t plagiarize on your resume. A job description is a helpful starting point, but you don’t want to include every single phrase from it in your resume. Instead, show some creativity by finding new ways of explaining how your skills match what the employer needs without using all the same terms from the description. Include some of the keywords, but also use related keywords that an applicant-tracking system will locate easily.

Using verbs that are weak and unoriginal. Responsible for, led, saved, increased….are you asleep yet? You might be. Jazz up your descriptions with words that pack a punch. You’ll be amazed at how different you come across on paper, as well as by the impact that confidence can have when you make it to the interview.

Announcing that you are proficient in Microsoft Office Suite. Everyone is. Five-year-olds know how to use Microsoft Word and Excel these days. Instead, list position-applicable programs. Applying for a marketing job? List Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and Canva. A business manager position? Think QuickBooks, Mozy, and Those programs mean you actually know how to do tasks directly associated with the position you’re seeking.

Forgetting to list volunteer work or personal achievements. This is a tricky one, though, because you only get to include these things if what you gained from them relates to the position you’re applying for. Yes, it’s great that you ring bells for the Salvation Army every year, but you should only list that if you want to be a professional bell ringer. You volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and you’re applying for a general contractor position? Perfect. List it. Same goes for that marathon you completed—only list it if you want a job as a retail sales associate in a sporting goods store. Otherwise, the hiring manager won’t care.

Using keywords that will make the hiring manager think less of you. Yes, meeting a goal of $1 million in revenue is impressive, but less so if you refer to the goal as aggressive rather than ambitious. Words are powerful, and when you only have a page or two of them to qualify yourself for a position, don’t sabotage your chance by using words or phrases that will make the hiring manager hate you… subconsciously.

Making it to look like everyone else’s. Don’t be lazy. Stand out from the crowd by deviating from the standard resume format and do something interesting. Please note, however, this needs to be done professionally and appropriately for the industry and specific job you are seeking. If you don’t have the design skills to make the necessary changes in your document, check out these great options.

Finding a new job can be a stressful process, but you can ease the burden by making sure your resume is polished and ready to send out. Your resume should exemplify who you are as a professional and what you would bring to the position being advertised. For a typical corporate job, approximately 250 resumes will be received. You want yours to be one of the few that make it into the call-for-an-interview pile.