In this age of multi-channel communication, resumes have become a marketing piece. They are the beginning of your online brand. And we admit–it’s no easy task. Here’s why: Resumes must be scannable and well-summarized enough to accommodate a new age of often overwhelmed employers, and they must also honor the English language and avoid the shorthand so popular amidst social media posts and texts. Here are five mistakes to avoid:
- Exhaustive Length
Timelines are for encyclopedias and school projects. Not resumes. A chronological history of your jobs is a must, but as you go back in time, less details are necessary. Your job from circa 2008 may demonstrate tenacity, but the software is likely outdated. List it for sure, just skip the details. If you’re under 30, one page is sufficient. Anybody else–two pages is ideal and three pages is the absolute max. Remember, white space allows the reader to breathe.
- Lack of Metrics
A resume should primarily demonstrate that you’re a do-er and an achiever. As such, a job entry should have four things: 1) Title and company name 2) A one line description of the company if not recognizable 3) A short summary of responsibilities 4) (most important) Bullets with achievements and metrics. Employers are most interested in quota performance, client growth, budget-savings–all quantifiable results that prove you didn’t just do your job, but exceeded expectations.
- Bad Formatting
Formatting is everything. Bullets–one line only!–help recruiters get chunks of information easily, rather than follow a narrative. Bold subheads (categorize!) allow employers to scan quickly and find what they’re looking for. Paragraphs are fine, but keep them to five lines max. Chronological is still the favored format, but don’t be afraid to provide a summary if your last two jobs were nearly identical in title and responsibilities. Finally, the traditional layout, which requires an employer to read text all the way across the page is fading. A one-third/two-thirds, with a column down the side, prevents reader fatigue and showcases more of your awesomeness at once.
- Spelling Mistakes
It’s a whole new era for these little suckers.Texting has dumbed down our content. We don’t correct text misspellings, so we’ve increased our tolerance for these types of errors. In addition, we forget that what goes in a text does not go in a resume. Shortening “light” to “lite”, for example, is not okay. Acronyms are an absolute no-no. The solution? Get over your fear of judgment and ask a parent, past English teacher, a spouse and a friend to review your resume. Yes, that’s four people, not one. We can tell you many stories of clients passing on an exceptional candidate because of a single misspelled word. This matters.
- Old-School Objective
These are a thing of the past. Your resume is not a letter. It’s a marketing piece and should reflect that same spirit. It should stand on it’s own–attached to your LinkedIn profile–and be ready for anyone to view. So rather than an objective, the initial pitch should summarize why you’re amazing, highlight your top career accomplishments and clearly outline the number of years experience you have.
Bonus Tip: Skip the physical address and put your LinkedIn Profile URL instead. It’s far more useful.
Good luck! And if you need more, check out our job search Q & A.
~ Milla Martinez spent 16 years selling handicap-accessible vans before switching to staffing in 2012. She is a senior head huntress for PeopleSuite as well as a dedicated wife and mother of four.