5 Resume Errors That Will Land You In The Trash

Published: Apr 17, 2014

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5 Resume Errors That Will Land You in the Trash April 17, 2014

Five tips on writing a resume recruiters and employers will want to read.

By Bob McIntosh, Career Trainer

Here’s a fact: Very few people like reading resumes, especially those who read hundreds of them a week. Ask any recruiter or employer. I critique and write resumes as part of my job. I’ve read hundreds of them and have conducted numerous critique sessions, but I’ve got nothing over recruiters and employers.

The only bright spot in this whole process is reading a resume that doesn’t give me a sharp pain between my eyes, one that is relatively sound. A resume that is outstanding—now, that’s a WOW moment.

Once you understand that recruiters and employers are not dying to read your resume, you can focus your attention on writing one that pleasantly surprises them, one that prompts them to recommend you for an interview. To make them want to read your resume, you must, at the very least, avoid making the following mistakes:

1. An apathetic approach to writing your resume. Don’t let your apathy show in the quality of your product. It shouts, “I’m not into writing a resume. It means I have to think about what I did.” I come across people who feel this way. They resent having to write a resume and would like others to do it for them. Do not rely on others to write your resume; it’s your responsibility.

2. It lacks accomplishments. I know, you’ve heard this a thousand times. It’s worth repeating because you want to stand out from the rest. Many people think accomplishments should only be highlighted in the Employment History section or under Career Highlights.

Some of your accomplishments should be stated in the Professional Profile. Develop processes that improve operations and result in decreased costs, exceeding dollar amounts in the tens of thousands. This assertion must then be backed up in the Employment History with explicit examples and dollar amounts.

3. Failing to show recruiters and employers what you’ll do for them. Recruiters and employers don’t want to know what you did; they want to know what you can do. You’re probably thinking, “If my work history is in the past. That’s what I did. How do I show employers what I can do?” It’s what we in the field call prioritizing your statements, or targeting your resume to each company to which you apply. In other words, illustrate how your qualifications and accomplishments match the employers’ requirements in order of importance.

4. You don’t know what recruiters and employers want. Many people don’t take the time to dissect the job ad to discover the most important skills and experience the employer wants to see on your resume. If the ad is skimpy, go to the company’s career section on its website.

Better yet, if you know someone at the company or know someone who knows someone at the company, call him or her and ask more about the position. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding influential people at companies. The bottom line is that you can’t write a targeted resume if you don’t understand the requirements of the job.

5. You lack keywords and phrases. Keywords are the skills that applicant tracking systems search for to determine if your resume will be the first of many to be read by employers. Your branding title, much like the title on your LinkedIn profile, is the first place on your resume where you’ll utilize keywords. Then, you will make sure they’re peppered throughout the rest of your resume.

These are five faux pas you must avoid if you want to write a powerful resume that gets you a spot in the hot seat. Once you’re at the interview, you’re one step closer to a job offer.

About the Author

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob's blog at www.thingscareerrelated.wordpress.com.

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