Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Harvard career experts say don’t make these 5 biggest resume mistakes - and examples of what to do instead

Dustin McKissen
 
In such an uncertain and competitive job market, there’s never been a more important time to polish your resume (even if you aren’t on the job hunt right now).

Before you get started, take some time to think about your strengths, weaknesses and goals. Also keep in mind who your competition is and what unique skills you have that might set you apart.

Here are the five biggest resume mistakes to avoid (along with examples of what to do instead), according to advisors at Harvard University’s Office of Career Services:


5. Too long 

Unless you’re applying for an executive position, your resume shouldn’t be longer than a page (at most two pages).

Note: This does not mean you should abbreviate. Whatever it is, spell it out, or your reader will have no idea what you are talking about.
Examples of what will make your resume longer:
  • Using a narrative style. If you’ve written the great American novel, put that on your resume — but don’t turn your resume into a novel.
  • Using personal pronouns. The hiring manager already knows the resume is about you. So instead of “I achieved [XYZ]...,” just start with “Achieved [XYZ]...” Dropping personal pronouns will also make for a stronger and cleaner read.
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4. Not well organized, concise or easy to skim

A black and white resume with clear headings and spacing will stand out more than a colorful resume with excessive use of boxes and line borders coming from all directions.
Make your resume easy to read and follow by balancing white spaces and using underlining, italics, bold and capitalization for emphasis. When listing details under a section, use bullet points (instead of numbers or letters).
Examples of bad formatting:
  • Sentences and sections cut off. This often happens when you’re converting your resume to a PDF, so make sure your formatting translated properly before hitting the send button.
  • Confusing order of headings and information. List your “Experience” heading in order of reverse chronological order (most recent job first), and the details (i.e., tasks, accomplishments) of each job in order of importance.
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3. Missing or unnecessary contact information

At the very top of your resume should be: Your name (big and in bold), address (to let the hiring manager know where you’re based), personal email and phone number (so they can contact you).
In some cases, it may be appropriate to include a link to your website or portfolio. Anything else is just a waste of space.
Examples of what not to include:
  • Photo of yourself. Save that professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile, which the hiring manager will likely look up if they think you’re a strong candidate.
  • List of references (or note saying “references available upon request”). It’s already assumed that you have co-workers and senior-level colleagues who will vouch for your skills. Most hiring managers will only ask for references if you make it to the final stages of the interview process. 
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See mistakes #1 and 2 Plus the full CNBC article

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