A resume is your introduction to the manager who decides which applicant shows the kind of promise that warrants a face-to-face interview, so making sure that yours stands out from the rest of the pile is crucial.
What makes a resume eye-catching to employers? Surveys of hiring managers give clear indications of what they want to see in a resume – as well as things they find particularly undesirable. Here are four of the worst resume blunders, any one of which could take you off the list of interview candidates.
The glut of job seekers looking to fill a limited number of vacancies has prompted some applicants to fib on their resumes – an act that spurred more than half of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder to reject those candidates immediately.
Interestingly, the lies employers described were anything but trivial. More than 55% of the fabrications had to do with the applicant's skill level, as well as the responsibilities of a former job. One-third even lied about their level of academic achievement.
Perhaps due to this phenomenon, more employers are having two or more additional employees read each resume – something to keep in mind if you are considering even the slightest embellishment.
Sloppy spelling and grammar
If lying is the No. 1 job-killer, a resume strewn with spelling and grammatical errors has to be the next in line. This really irks employers, and 43% told pollsters from Adecco Staffing last year that misspellings annoyed them much more than gaps in an applicant's employment history – prompting them to dismiss such candidates from further consideration. Another CareerBuilder poll identified typographical errors as a reason for rejection by 58% of employers.
This particular sin is easily avoided: Ask someone with stellar writing skills to check your resume before you send it out. Depending upon spell check to catch every type of error is just asking for trouble.
Resumes not tailored to the vacancy
Employers are offering a specific position, and they want to see a resume that reflects the skills and experience applicable to that particular job. Failing to tailor your resume to each vacancy to which you apply will not endear you to hiring managers, 36% of whom say that generic, non-specific resumes are unlikely to lead to an interview.
Read the position's duties carefully, and obtain a more detailed job description if one is available. Illustrate your job skills and experiences in a manner that creates a good fit with the target vacancy. Remember, however, not to embellish – or plagiarize the job description. Employers notice when resumes take large swaths of text directly from the job advertisement, and 32% told CareerBuilder that they will reject such application materials.
Using empty clichés instead of action terms
If you really want to impress a prospective employer, refrain from using generalized, overused phrases that don't actually describe your skills and talents. Not surprisingly, hiring managers dislike catch-all terms like, "best of breed" and "go-getter" – numbers one and two on the list of worst terms to use on a resume.
Employers want to see phrases that indicate action, such as "achieved" and "improved" – verbs that relay what you did, and how you did it. Using these terms in conjunction with the target job's requirements shows that you have had success in the past with similar tasks – which is sure to catch the attention of any employer.
If you're still not sure what an outstanding resume should look like, this article shows just how attention-grabbing a targeted resume can be. A one-page summary of who you are, what you've done, and why this company needs you is an indispensable tool to get you onto the interview list – and into the job of your dreams.