Today, let’s look at the top seven resume mistakes. I love the quote that says:
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again. This time more intelligently. ~Henry Ford
My son’s favorite quote by Thomas Edison:
I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
If any of these mistakes are ones you have made, no worries – just correct and move forward.
Top 7 Resume Mistakes
1) (Mistake #1) Unprofessional email addresses. This is a weed out tool. If you list an unprofessional email address when it’s so simple to have a free professional email address, your resume may end up in the shredder. As a former executive resume writer, I cannot tell you how many professionals had unprofessional email addresses. This is so important that this is one of the first things I discuss with a client and will help them to set up a professional job search email address. Some examples of unprofessional email addresses I have seen are ShakinMyBooty@, and SexyHotMamaOf3@ and PoohBearLovesMe@.
One way to protect your privacy is to create a separate job search email address. You need a job search email address so that you have a dedicated place for all of your job search emails. Try to get your first and last name as the email address. For example, KristenJacoway@yahoo.com. This sounds more professional and you can get a free mail address at Google Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and more. When you are done with this job search, you no longer have to use this email and it protects your privacy.
When you are in a job search, make it a practice to check this email address at least twice daily as responding quickly to an employer is required if you want to get a job. Now, probably one of our biggest challenges seems that some people do not respond quickly to emails. It’s imperative to their job search success. I realize that there are quicker ways to communicate, such as texting, but employers still, by and large, make their initial contacts through an email. Collegerecruiter.com says it’s important to respond reasonably quickly to email messages. You should also acknowledge that you received an email message, even if a reply isn’t required. If possible, try to respond as soon as possible or within 24 to 48 hours of receiving the email. If you are unsure about your interview availability, then reply immediately to the potential employer and let them know that you received the email and you are excited about the opportunity for an interview. You can tell the employer that you will let them know quickly when you are available for an interview. This tells them that you are professional and conscientious.
2) (Mistake #2) Listing confidential information on a resume, such as marital status, disability, Social Security number, number of children and more. I have worked with people who want to make sure that the employer knows that they have a disability, for example. The law, Americans with Disabilities Act, is on your side as you do not have to disclose this information on a resume or cover letter. Your resume is your marketing document and you want to show that you have the requirements the employer is seeking. For example, you have a vision loss and an engineering degree. You are applying for an engineering position where you can do the essential job functions with or without accommodations. Your resume markets the skills you can do for this employer. You do not have to disclose a disability until you have received a conditional job offer. I am planning to have an interview with an expert in the area of employment for people with disabilities in an upcoming podcast, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!
Now, there are times where disclosing your disability can help you in employment through Schedule A Hiring with the federal government. I also plan to interview an expert in this area on an upcoming podcast as well.
Another area to avoid is listing certain details that might be confidential on your work history achievements either with a current or former employer. Revealing proprietary information or details that are confidential to that company can have serious and possibly have legal consequences. Employers will not want to hire you if you share confidential information.
3) (Mistake #3) “Information overload” – no one wants or has time to read your life history. Stick to what is relevant and help the employer answer how you are the best match for that position, and as we’ll discuss later on, when we get into the nuts and bolts of developing a resume, resume writers will tell you that we only take resumes back ten to 15 years and the reason for that is because we want to avoid age discrimination. Also, in today’s marketplace, anything past that 10 to 15 years is really no longer relevant. In fact, the reason why I went through so much training when I was trying to re-enter the workforce after being a stay-at-home was because I knew my skills were outdated. Here’s a picture of my ‘Additional Professional Experience’ (please note that details were changed to protect privacy).
One of the things I have always told people, if you have gaps in employment, it’s good to take a few courses online, like with Lynda.com we talked about two weeks ago. You can Google and you can find information about technology, software, coding and all kinds of things to take independent study classes. You could add that to your resume in professional training and then you could put in parenthesis the level of expertise you have in that subject area. Be truthful – if you have basic knowledge, then list that your knowledge is basic. Go to the interview and say, ‘I realize that this technical skill was very important to you, as it was in your qualifications so I wanted to jump on it and start learning as much as I could about, it even though I have only got basic understanding of it. I’m anxious to learn more.’ This type of statement shows the employer the motivation and desire to learn and get those skills updated.
4) (Mistake #4) Placing your contact information in the header or footer of a word document. I want you to know that you do not want to put your contact information in a header or a footer. Applicant tracking software cannot read it, and you may miss an opportunity. I worked with a client privately, who had his contact information in the header, and was not getting any calls. And he had a great resume! We made this simple change by pulling his contact information out of the header and dropping it into the body of that resume, and he started getting calls for interviews.
5) (Mistake #5) Lying or exaggerating on your resume. I found a picture of a cartoon, the employer on one side is asking everything on your resume is true, right? The job seeker’s nose has grown just like Pinocchio’s. So being untruthful on your resume can cause you to lose your job. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Yahoo!’s CEO Scott Thompson was fired after it was found he lied on his resume with a college degree in computer science that he did not earn. His decision ended his term at the company after just four months. Thompson’s published Yahoo’s bio was included in the annual report, which they have to claim are truthful. His degree was only in accounting.
“The New York Times” reported in 2001, that five days after naming George O’Leary as the new head football coach, that the University of Notre Dame announced that O’Leary had to resign suddenly after admitting to falsifying parts of his academic and athletic background. Bottom line? Lying on your resume isn’t worth the risk!
6) (Mistake #6) Now, another big mistake I see is not labeling your saved document as your first and last name, but rather with something ambiguous such as “my future life resume.” You want to make sure that you are making it easy for the employer or the recruiter who is searching for your downloaded resume and make sure it’s easy for them to find or they may just go off in search of the next person.
7) (Mistake #7) Resumes riddled with mistakes such as grammar, spelling and punctuation can be something that keeps you from getting invited to a job interview, especially if the qualifications include writing and attention to detail. Make sure to proof your work, and have a fresh set of eyes read it for mistakes as well. Now, we all fall into the habit of text language, especially in this age of texting, but never ever, should text language be used in a cover letter. Also, know that emoticons or emojis are not appropriate either.
I’ve seen where a person actually forgot to put their name and contact information on the resume. So just like when we were in school, and you had to you put your name on it to get credit, you absolutely have to have your name on the resume to be called back for an interview.
Now, let’s look at a before resume I received and look at some resume mistakes. On the resume I’m reviewing, there are four pages and she had listed her physical address. You don’t need to have a physical address on there, because, again, you want to protect privacy, and if you are uploading these resumes to job boards, then that can make it easier for somebody to steal your identity. Of course, there are exceptions when an industry or a type of company will require for you to place your physical address.
The email address she listed was a work email address. And how do I know that? The words after the @ sign was the name of the company where she worked. She also listed her phone numbers as home and work. You don’t want to place any type of work contact information because that looks bad to an employer that is reading the resume because they know that you are doing job searching on company time, if you are allowing emails to be sent to your work email and accepting phone calls about possible job interviews.
The resume was a complete data dump; it was four pages long. She took her resume back to work experience in 1986. So that was 30 years ago. Again, people aren’t trying to discriminate against you for age discrimination at all, but if someone states they worked at a company in 1970, then you are going to think to yourself, well, gosh, she was probably about 20 years old, maybe 22, when she started to work there. That was 46 years ago and then your brain just automatically says, oh, they must be 66, 68 years old. That’s the reason we don’t take those dates back that far. Just the last ten to 15 years. Everything else goes into additional professional experience so that they can see all the experience you have listed.
So how long do you think that an employer or a recruiter spends reviewing a resume? Surprisingly, they only look at a resume for 6 seconds the first time that they look at a resume according to the Ladders.com eye tracking study. I want you to understand how this plays out when a recruiter is reviewing a resume. A recruiter or an employer has beside them is a checklist of things that are required, things that are desired and once a person misses so many of those check boxes, they have moved on to the next resume. I have actually watched a recruiter do this and it is very methodically. It’s very quick.
Their eyes are drawn to the contact information. The next thing is the name of the employer, the dates of employment, the job title, achievements and then education. So formatting is an essential element to getting an employer or recruiter to get the most useful information about who you are as a job candidate. We will talk about formatting in an upcoming podcast.
As a side note before we conclude, I’ve gotten several calls about me writing resumes for people. I just want to let you know that I no longer write resumes as my focus is on this blog and the speaking and training events that I do. There are multiple great resume writing resources out there on the Internet. You want to see that the person writing your resume is credentialed and ask for samples of their work. Credentialed writers have passed multifaceted exams in résumé mechanics, strategy, and formatting to obtain such credentials. Many writers have a specialty industry, such as finance, whereas others are able to write for a variety of different industries.