I get frustrated when I read the resumes of my clients for a couple reasons. The first reason is that many people have great work experiences but they forget to include them in their resumes. Even if you’re going into a different career path, your past experience should be included in a resume. You need to show employers that you understand what it takes to succeed at work and if you only talk about the skills needed for this new job, it sends another message – one I’d rather not convey. Secondly, too many people write their resumes as if they are writing an ad for themselves instead of writing it from the employer’s point of view. In other words, they think they’re writing a sales pitch about themselves rather than laying out what they have accomplished and how it can help the prospective employer.
I’ve prepared a list of the most common mistakes job seekers make on their resumes with suggestions on how to avoid them: Aron Govil
- Not listing all previous jobs with dates & responsibilities
- Using verbs that don’t accurately describe your actions at work
- Ignoring accomplishments, assuming employers know what you did
- Including every skill listed in a job description under Skills section
- Telling employers what you want instead of why you are a good match for the company
- How not to write your resume – Some real examples from my own experience as an HR professional
1) Not listing all previous jobs with dates & responsibilities
I engaged in routine filing of contracts, reports, day-to-day correspondence, etc.
Duh! Of course the employer knows you engaged in this activity if it’s on your resume. You don’t need to state the obvious. What they will be looking for is what kind of files did you keep (important vs. non important)? Were there any issues during the process of filing? Did you use electronic or manual methods? How many hours would it take to complete a task like this on average? What did you do when there was an error in some document/file that needed to be corrected? Did you figure out how to correct them yourself or ask someone else for help?
2) Using verbs that don’t accurately describe your actions at work
I was responsible for attending all calls in order to coordinate customer service needs.
You were “responsible” but what did you actually do on the phone with customers? What was your tone of voice when speaking to them, how many calls did you take per day/week/month and how much time would each call take on average? Did any of these calls end up requiring follow-ups or escalated communication because of poor customer services?
3) Ignoring accomplishments, assuming employers know what you did
The following are skills necessary for this position: Strong interpersonal skills, communication skills, detail oriented.
What does this tell an employer about you other than you is good at bullshitting? They don’t know what you did in your previous roles but they do want to hear about it. You need to tell them the accomplishments related to each skill without spewing jargon or buzzwords. So if you used communication skills daily in your past jobs, be sure to include several examples of how your communication improved company sales with customers, increased customer retention rates, etc.
4) Including every skill listed in a job description under Skills section
The following are desired/required skills for this position: Strong interpersonal skills are required; fluent in Microsoft Excel and Word; fluency in Spanish & French; experience working with CRM systems; detail oriented required – general knowledge of construction processes helpful.
This list tells the employer that you are either desperate for work or have no idea what skills are actually required for this role. If interviewers can see all these other skills on your resume, they might just ask about them during an interview to test your knowledge. Don’t give them any reason to do so.
5) Telling employers what you want instead of why you are a good match for the company
I am interested in working with your company because I would like to use my communication and interpersonal skills to help grow your customer base.
Great! Now tell me why I should care? What makes you different from the 5 other candidates applying for the same job who have similar skill sets & experience as yours? What results can you deliver for us?
6) How not to write your resume – real examples from my own experience in HR
I worked in marketing in my previous role
This is a big red flag. If you don’t have extensive experience directly related to the position you’re applying for, why bother including this? If you do, then list all of it under Experience & just get rid of this line.
Conclusion by Aron Govil:
If you have been out of the workforce for a few years, take the time to list all your previous work experience under each position. Work backward from current or most recent job and don’t leave anything out.