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  • Writer's pictureAman Rajabali

12 Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

The digital era is here and it has pervaded every aspect of our lives. Especially our professional ones, with LinkedIn becoming your new profile and cover letter, we often tend to ignore the old-fashioned resume which still rules the roost and has not been replaced yet. It is the statement of you before the employer meets you. Your first impression is made by your resume and continues to occupy a critical position in the hiring process. Being your first introduction to the employer, a resume must attract attention, stimulate interest and prompt your potential employer to help you land at the interview hot-seat at a mere glance. Grammatically erroneous and shabbily presented incomplete resumes are guaranteed to be ignored by any potential recruiter

Your resume is your spokesperson and should work for you – getting you a foot in the door towards an interview.

So here are a few areas that you can look into to refine your resume and land that interview!

Unqualified Candidates

You may want a job, but if you don't have the required certification and experience needed, employers will feel you're wasting their time, as these are basic qualifiers. Before you apply for a role be sure to look at the job description for specific criteria such as professional certifications. Ensure that you highlight your related qualifications/experiences which correspond with the employer’s requirement at the top of the document.

Although you may feel that you are perfectly suited for a job but unless the potential employer has visible proof of the required talent or skill-set or technical training, they will not be interested in your profile.

Not listing the skills

These days listing out the skills might appear as an option to the candidates but for an employer it is a critical deal maker or breaker. A list of hard and soft skills presented in the manner in which they were employed in past work experiences or life defining circumstances is a great way to cast a favourable first impression.

One should be careful while listing these skills that corresponds to the given job description and be backed by logical arguments. The number of skills listed too should be balanced as the focus is to be minimalistic and to-the-point.

Spelling/Typing Errors & Poor Grammar

Make sure that your resume is well edited and grammatically correct; these errors often reek of a careless attitude and reflectpoorly on a candidate. Writing skills are a bare essential for a "professional". In this globalized age where the bulk of work completion depends on emails; incorrect language, grammatical and spelling errors can lead to miscommunication and impact the overall quality of output. Complete reliance on spell check is a misconception. Employers are known to dismiss candidates based on typing errors automatically and hence, in this day and age the grammatical errors are passé! Common errors such as an inability to differentiate between your or you’re can be a deal breaker.

For e.g. “Quite” is a correctly spelled word, but it means something very different from “Quiet.” So, a through reading and improving a messy resume can help immensely.

Inaccurate Dates or None at all

In order to get a better understanding of your working history and to use the dates for background/ reference checks, employers need to know when & where you have worked. Missing/Incorrect dates, especially for long periods of time, could send up a red flag, and the resume may be discarded. Include specific ranges in months and years for every position. If you have career gaps, explain them either in your cover letter or introduction, but not in your resume. It always helps to list any continuing education, training that you have undergone or to list any volunteer/ project-based work you have done during a slow period or summer months which could explain some of the gaps.

If you're concerned about a layoff period that you have had to face within a company, be assured that nowadays, unemployment or being laid off is quite prevalent. Most people do something to keep their work skills going. Use that information to fill in the gaps.

Misrepresenting information

Always be truthful while representing your previous experience because every piece of information on your resume can be easily verified from the past employers. If you are caught with any discrepancy it will reflect poorly on your reputation and you may be setting yourself up for failure. If the advertised position does not match with yours then do not edit the one on your resume for getting that extra edge. Whenever possible, go with a chronological resume with a sharp focus on the skills and accomplishments that pertain to the position you're seeking.

Inaccurate or Missing Contact Information

Absurd as it may sound but employers often complain about receiving relevant resumes with incorrect mobile numbers or mobile numbers with a missing digit. Sometimes, even the email address is shown incorrectly. This has caused a lot of embarrassment to candidates, especially those who list “an eye for detail” as their strength in their resumes. Always ensure that your correct and updated contact information is displayed properly in your resume. More often than not, employers are not going to LOOK YOU UP, they will simply deal with the next resume in the pile. Be sure every resume you send out has your correct contact information, including your name, phone number, email address and detailed postal address.

Poor / Bad Formatting

The Internet has changed the focus of recruitment, with more and more companies going for paperless resumes and e-recruitment. In this new context, it is essential to know that a resume that looks good on paper may not necessarily have the same effect when viewed on the computer.

Different typefaces and boxes may look nice on paper, but if the resume needs to be scanned, they can go haywire and cause confusion. Thus, it is advisable that you keep your resume in plain text (Size 11/12 Arial or Times Roman fonts).

Too Obvious

If you’re simply tailoring your resume to fit into what the potential employer has outlined in the advertised job description, you're missing the point of your resume. HR departments already know what the job is; your resume should highlight your accomplishments and how you are best suited for that position.

Be sure to showcase what you've really done. Accentuate the processes, outcomes and results that are specific to your own work experience.

A vague and verbose resume

Putting information relevant to the job description helps to allow the potential employer evaluate you better in a sea of resumes. Crisply worded examples help the hiring officer know your past job better.

Also, avoid being too verbose with long sentences and paragraphs. It further adds vagueness to your resume. Employers prefer most of the information to be upfront. If there is any difference that you have made to the top-line or the bottom-line of the company, put the actual INR figures. Always highlight the specifics that you can defend well when questioned in the interviews.

Using random objective statements

Objective statements are a summary of your work ethic and professional personality. Therefore, make sure that they are suited to the job as well as crisply worded to explain your outlook.

Sample this:

“Seeking a role as a business analyst to advance my career in the IT industry and help the organization grow as well.”

Such statements are mostly vague and dry because every candidate wants career advancement; it is an implied ambition.

A statement which captures your intent to use your knowledge and skill set in solving business problems of the potential employer and to improve their operational efficiency will set your resume apart.

Something like this would be better at arousing interest:

“As a business analyst, I seek to solve complex business problems in this sector by identifying gaps in the operational processes to offer data-backed solutions to drive down costs enhance the reporting standards and elevate the accuracy the decision making.”

Personal Information Unrelated to the Job

With the limited time employers spend on your resume (40-60 seconds), you don't want to distract them with your height, weight, nationality, passport number, and interests unless they're directly related to the work you want to do. You need to make the link between what an employer needs and what you bring to the table. Anything personal that is not directly linked to the position is unwarranted.

Inability to Apply Online

You must be up to speed with the various online portals that offer as a database to job seekers. Your resumes must be updated and your profile should be indexed with the relevant keywords so as to appear on top of every search the employers make. If you don't take advantage of this component, you're about two weeks behind other creative and aggressive job seekers! The future employers are adapting to this new way at a lightning speed.

Always remember, a resume is your inanimate professional self, condensed into an A4 size paper. This sheet of paper is your advocate to convince potential employers whom you have never met to invest in you for a job where you may or may not fulfil expectations.

So, your resume simply has to talk and walk for you!

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