If you haven’t updated your resume recently or simply have never written a resume before in your life, it’s hard to know where to even begin. How do I write a resume for both applicant tracking systems and hiring managers? What resume template should I use? Should my resume be one or two pages? These are just some of the many questions that you may find yourself asking when writing your resume.
While not all of these questions have a clear right or wrong answer, there are some that certainly do. So with that in mind, here are 7 mistakes you could be making on your resume that are making hiring managers pass on your application.
1. Including things that don’t belong
As a rule of thumb, never include things such as your age, marital status, sex, race, political affiliation, religion, or headshot on your resume. In fact, the only personal information that should be included on your resume is your email, phone number, and address. Also, don’t include any information about your high school.
Even if you’re very well-suited for the job you’re applying for, including the wrong information on your resume can be catastrophic. If you fail in this area, recruiters automatically suspect that you’re someone who doesn’t pay attention to details and lacks the competency necessary to piece together a solid resume.
2. Using personal pronouns
Using personal pronouns like “I,” “me,” or “my,” is regarded as a taboo when it comes to resume writing. Why does this unwritten rule exist? Well, crafting an impressive resume is all about being short and concise. Every word should count, and if not, it’s just taking up precious real estate. When it comes to using personal pronouns, anyone reading your resume already knows that the things on it are referring to you. So there’s really no need to use them.
3. Hiring an incompetent professional resume writer
Not every so-called “certified resume writer” is going to do a good job with your resume. The truth is, many online resume writing services do not produce well-written resumes. Pick the right one and yes, you can find yourself working with a very insightful resume writer who will be able to use his insider knowledge and experience to really take your resume to the next level. But on the other hand, a poor decision here can mean spending a lot of money on a resume that ends up being worse than one you’d write yourself. If you aren’t even sure whether you need professional resume help to begin with, there’s an entire LinkedIn article recently released that addresses this potential conundrum.
4. Highlighting your job duties but not your achievements
If you’ve worked as an administrative assistant, I can imagine there are a lot of day-to-day job duties you can mention on your resume, whether it be manning the phones, filing paperwork, managing expenses, scheduling appointments, and all that jazz. While you do want to mention some of these things on your resume, hiring managers can already infer most of that stuff from simply looking at your job title. Instead, what you really want to get across is how successfully you were able to do these tasks. Instead of just “scheduling appointments,” maybe you were able to “develop a new scheduling system that led to a $3000 increase in monthly revenue.” This shift in focus from what you’ve done to how well you did it and what the ultimate impact was can take your resume to the next level.
5. An outdated or unprofessional email address
Recruiters are looking to nitpick anything they possibly can on your resume. Even something seemingly harmless like including your AOL or Hotmail email address at the top of your resume can be potentially damaging to your reputation. Why? Because these email providers are outdated, and those who use them run the risk of being tossed in the same category. To appear more computer savvy, always use Gmail or an address associated with a personal domain.
6. Not giving yourself enough time
Don’t mistakenly think just because a resume is only a page or two in length that you’ll only need a few hours to write a resume. Putting a job-winning resume together usually takes at the very least a couple of days. If you have job applications lined up to apply for, be sure to give yourself the necessary amount of time needed to write the best resume you possibly can. With how important this document is to your job search success, this is the one thing you cannot afford to rush.
Author: McLean Mills
McLean Mills is a career coach and serial entrepreneur who cofounded CareerHelp Inc. He's worked as a career adviser for University of Florida and as a hiring manager for Coca Cola.