Three Really Common Mistakes to Avoid on Your Resume

I’ve been working with students and professionals for years helping them to update and perfect their resumes.  Whether it’s a hard copy resume or the fancy digital versions I see today, the same common mistakes repeatedly surface. In your quest to be clever, creative and relevant in the eyes of a prospective employer, try to avoid these three easily correctable errors.

  1. Watch Your Bullet Points – When you use bullets, make sure that you are consistent with your verb tenses. For example, you should start off the bullets with good action verbs (past tense for a previous job) such as “Assisted,” “Developed,” “Created,” etc.  You should keep the same tense with all bullet points.  I notice on many resumes, there is the tendency to mix tenses and moving from partial phrases to full sentences. Bullet points should not be full sentences, and they should be in order of importance to the reader reviewing your resume.  The bullet points are meant to make your accomplishments stand out. Lastly, it’s the consistency in your resume that shows you will be consistent with your writing when you’re on the job!
  2. Select the Right Font and Stick With It – When you select a font for your resume, make sure that you use the same font and the same size all the way through.  The most common fonts for resume writing belong to the ‘Serif’ & ‘Sans Serif’ families.  It’s important to consider a resume font that is easy to read and widely used.  You also may determine the font based on the industry opportunity.  For example, if you’re applying for a job in the tech industry, Calibri is popular, and if you want it to break into the legal field you may use Garamond.  Regardless of the font you select, make sure you are consistent with this font from start to finish.
  3. Create A Resume with the “Less is More Principle” – If you had to pay for every word in your resume, I bet it would be a lot shorter. Sometimes, when we try to impress, we get a bit lengthy. Using too many words or complete sentences (in bulleted areas) is not necessary.  Your resume needs to deliver information in the simplest and clearest way possible. You should avoid wordy sentences and stick to brief summaries and bulleted lists. It’s important to choose every word carefully and remember that less is definitely more.  Of course, with every word you select, each one has to be spelled correctly and there should be no grammatical errors.  As much as we talk about proofreading, this is one of the biggest problems with resumes, one that can be easily avoided.  Read, reread and even read it backward to get rid of typos.  If you feel you’re too close to your resume, then ask a peer to use his/her eagle eyes for you. You can have great qualifications, but one mistake can ruin your chances of landing a really good position.

If you can avoid these really common mistakes, and your experience is relevant to the opportunity being offered, then you will land in the “keep” pile.  It’s also important to be ready to share your resume at any time. Opportunity usually knocks when you’re not expecting it, so don’t wait to do your resume updates when called upon, do them long before the opportunity surfaces.  Good luck and good resume writing!