The 5 Ways You Are Ruining Your Resume

Your resume represents you—so don't make these big mistakes when you show it off.

From typos to grammatical errors, coffee stains and outdated material, resume blunders are a common occurrence, says career coach Ford Myers. But some can be deadly.

"If you hope to compete in today’s job market your resume can’t be good, it needs to be exceptional," says Myers, author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring (Wiley, 2009).

A critical tool in your job search, Myers says a resume should be used strategically and sparingly: "Too many people spread it around the world like confetti," he says. Instead, send it out only if you’re applying for a job online, contacting a recruiter, being interviewed or looking for work career website.

The rest of the time? Network. Make connections in person or online and consider sharing information like your personal website or online portfolio or a business card with contact information.

But before you share you share your resume with anyone it needs careful thought and examination. Here are the five cardinal sins Myers says everyone should avoid before sharing their resume with a potential employer:

1. Giving too much information.

Resumes should have five main sections, says Myers:

  1. Personal Information
  2. Career Summary
  3. Professional Experience
  4. Education
  5. Affiliations or Professional Development

While providing enough details is important, brevity is key. Under every job title, include a concise paragraph describing your roles and responsibilities of job and a bulleted list of accomplishments.

"The accomplishments section is most important because it shows where you went the extra mile or added extra value," says Myers. "Those things are unique to you in your position. A potential employer wants to see what you contributed."

2. Being vague.

Resumes that get noticed focus on specific results. Myers says you should quantify everything you can, such as retention rates, sales numbers, profit margins, performance quotas and time frames.

"Whenever possible, use percentages, dollars and hard numbers," he says. "Too often, people say something like, ‘I brought in new clients and increased revenue.’ Instead, say, ‘I opened 14 new multimillion dollar accounts within 12 months representing 16% new company revenue.’ It’s much more compelling."

3. Using passive verbs.

Myers urges resume writers to use strong action verbs at the beginning of every sentence and phrase. Words such as ‘managed,’ ‘directed,’ ‘built,’ ‘created,’ and ‘launched,’ instead of a vague phrase such as ‘responsible for.’

"The whole point is to position yourself as a get-it-done person," he says. "Strong action verbs make resumes jump off the page."

4. Including the irrelevant.

A resume should focus on information that directly applies to your career path and not be a biography of every job you’ve ever held.

"There is no need to include your after-school job or high school achievements if they are not relevant to the career you are looking for or if they are in your distant past," says Myers. "If the experience doesn’t support your case, don’t include it."

5. Lying.

Embellishing the facts or telling outright lies on resumes is common, says Myers, but he warns job seekers to avoid doing it.

"It’s not that people are being deceptive or malicious, often they delude themselves that their experience is more than it really is," he says. "I do believe in framing your experience in the best light. But there is a difference between spinning and lying. If you lie, you will always lose in the long run."

[Image: Flickr user Sento]

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3 Comments

  • Katie Furlan

    So how do individuals with little experience in their fields construct an "exceptional" resume without exaggerating the experience they do have? Or are they just S.O.L.?

  • Robert Siravo

    Oh yes! The infamous resume writing. For those who have not mastered the right character and substance to be aligned with one's particular field, let your struggle be a source of self improvement. Remember that the transition from imperfection to perfection does not happen overnight, since efficacy of achieving this final goal rests upon the continuous progression of improvements, improvements that increase the marketability of one's self.

  • I'm generally interested in reading something new when it comes to this topic. I lost interest, however, when I read this above, "But before you share you share your resume with anyone it needs careful thought and examination." You share. You share. Careful thought and examination was missed.