“I accomplished a whole lot, while working well with people at my job. Sales numbers went way up, because of that generic thing I did. Oh, yeah, and I’m charismatic, smart, and funny.”
Ok, so generally speaking, the resumes that come across our desks aren’t that bad…generally. Still, for all of the skillful people we interact with, sometimes their resumes simply don’t measure up. And considering our trade, that’s a very unfortunate thing.
That’s why we’re always willing to work one-on-one with candidates, to help refine their appearance on paper! That said, we know not everyone has the time/energy/enthusiasm to make a meeting. So, just in case you fall in that boat, here is a starter kit to help make your resume a little more superstar-ish.
Things to stop doing, right now, and forever, and ever:
1. Listing responsibilities without highlighting achievements.
We know what your job title was. We can infer your duties. Instead of providing a bulleted list explaining what your day-to-day looked like at your last job, highlight the value you provided to the organization. Anyone can complete a list of duties, but give us some insight as to how you excelled at those duties. How did you impact the organization financially? Operationally? Strategically?
2. Being overly vague, instead of providing quantitative data.
That’s super awesome that sales increased while you were at your last company, but how did you contribute to that? What is the quantitative data here? Rather than simply saying that sales “increased,” provide some real information. Provide some context as to how you helped contributed to this increase. And it’s not just sales; if you developed a program that “saved X Company money” tell us how much! Further, use specific numbers as it relates to your number of direct reports, your budget, your typical contract size, etc.
3. Being a not-so-sneaky liar.
Yeah, we would love to be an astronaut, with an award winning snickerdoodle recipe, who runs a rescue-dog farm. The stars just didn’t line up. Although there’s probably an insanely blessed astronaut/baker/puppy-saver out there; this would be an easy-to-spot bold faced lie on a resume. On the other hand, saying you are an expert at *insert scripting language here*, may fly under the radar. Until you are asked about it in your interview, that is. At which point, it’ll be pretty clear if you don’t know what you’re talking about. The point is, if you lie, you will eventually get caught, and that’s a hard spot to get out of. Spin yourself in the most positive light, but keep it truthful. If you’re “proficient,” say that. If you’re “expert,” use that. “Novice,” “beginner,” “advanced,” “familiar with”…..you get the picture!
4. Not using consistent/professional font on your resume.
C’mon, Guys. We love an edgy font as much as the next, maybe even more, but there’s a time and a place to experiment. Obviously, if you’re applying for a creative role, fun-font it up. But, if you are applying for a more technical role, at a more conservative company, stick to the basics. There are other ways to stand out; like by spotlighting all of that quantitative data that we were talking about above. And once you’ve chosen your resume-appropriate font? STICK WITH IT. That’s your font, Bud. Don’t get tricky and pull a switch-a-roo mid-page. *Side stare* P.S…Comic Sans is SO 2000; consider Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman.
5. Leaving periods at the end of some bullet points, but not all.
Have you ever looked at a wall with multiple picture frames, all perfectly inline, with the exception of one? *Internal screaming* If you’re speaking in full sentences, throw a period on the end. This is first grade grammar, people; otherwise, your resume starts to resemble that uneven picture frame. Don’t be that picture frame. Or, if you’re of the opinion that your resume statements are of the more fragmented nature (and thus, don’t include a period), just make sure that all of your statements are consistently non-punctuated.
6. Using too much white space.
Put the “justify” alignment in your pocket and save it for a rainy day….in April 2089. Keep it right, keep it tight. Line spacing can be 1pt; no need for extra spaces between paragraphs, margins can be 0.5-1.0 inches. Don’t get us wrong, your resume doesn’t need to look like a dictionary page, but it should be full of all of your previous accomplishments. Oh, and did we mention…it should NEVER be over two pages. Fact is, you’ll be lucky to have someone get to your second page, so even if you have one, make sure that first page SHINES.
7. Trying to standout as the ‘class clown’ in your resume.
“I am the office prankster.” That’s amazing, Dave, but you’re probably not going to be the “office prankster” at whatever company you’re applying to, with that line in your resume. While expressing personality in your resume can be a good thing, it can be easy to fall onto the wrong side of this thin-line. The side that screams, “Unprofessional!” If you are thinking of inserting your personality/voice into your resume, be sure to have a trusted colleague or friend give it a critical proofread.
8. Speaking of proofreading…you forgot to have someone look it over.
This one doesn’t stop, even when you get to the top. We’ve had extremely successful individuals, apply for C-level positions, who have typos in the first sentence of their resume. Regardless of your experience, or field of expertise, have a trusted someone(s) PROOFREAD your resume. Don’t have a handy someone to help you out with this one? Lucky for you, while some people love beach volleyball and craft cocktails, we love helping candidates reach their full, resume potential. (Disclaimer: We also love beach volleyball and craft cocktails.) If you’d like a pro-resume reader to give it a glance (one who just might know someone who’s hiring), we’re your guy.
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list of resume faux pas. There are many ways to slip up, when creating the document that will be your first impression on your future employer. And even if your resume is pretty killer, asking for a proofreader to give it a glance is NEVER a bad idea. It speaks for you, before you’re able to show the hiring manager everything that can’t be said on paper alone. So, make sure it’s exquisite.