As a professional recruiter, I am reading resumés every day, far too many on some days! There are errors that candidates make that could easily be avoided. I’ve compiled a list of the most common ones.
Easily the biggest and most common failing is:
The candidate doesn’t understand that the resumé is their own sales proposal!
Many of us have a natural modesty or reserve, and don’t want to blow our own trumpet. Often this is a desirable trait, but not when you are writing your resumé. The sole purpose of a resumé is to get you to the next step, usually a face to face interview, and to do this it must show you in the best possible light. This is not to say you should tell lies, but you should highlight your experience and skills as well as you can. This will mean:
- Tailoring the resumé for the particular position. A targeted sales proposal always beats a boilerplate one. Some candidates say “I haven’t got time for that”. Well, how much do you want the position?
- Showing what you can contribute uniquely to the position or project that another person might not – with plenty of evidence from your past jobs.
- When describing your past jobs, being specific about your contribution, highlighting your successes and the positive impact on the organisation. Don’t give a list of the responsibilities of the position – that is a job description, not a resumé. The resumé should describe you and your achievements, not the job roles you have held.
“A targeted sales proposal always beats a boilerplate one.”
- Be prepared to seek advice from others who have worked with you and who know you well. Some of the most striking material I have seen has been in the form of direct quotes from previous bosses or customers. Of course, you have to be prepared to have these verified by a prospective employer!
- Most of the resumés I see have at least one obvious error. This can sink you, especially when you are applying for a job that requires attention to detail. Use the spell checker and have a nitpicking person proofread for you.
Most of all, put yourself in the position of the prospective employer. Your resumé might be the 30th resumé they have read that day. The first page should tell them exactly why they should be considering you. Unless they are critical to the position, material such as your academic credentials, the list of all the skills you possess, your hobbies etc. should be relegated to the later pages. If the first page grabs their attention, they will be happy to read on.
In posts over the next few weeks, I will cover some of the questions I am often asked by candidates about what to put in a resume, what to leave out, how to structure it etc.