Three Top Resume Writing Mistakes

Did you know that it takes less than 30 seconds for an employer to look at your resume? Thirty seconds determines if your resume makes it to the second round, which could be an interview, or is filed in the round filing cabinet. So what can you do to give yourself the competitive edge? Your resume has to capture the employer’s attention. In today’s economic environment, the competition for jobs is fierce. There are so many people vying for work that your resume really does have to stand out to get noticed. The resume is an expression of yourself, so you have to stand out, you have to get noticed. Here are what I consider to be the three top resume writing mistakes that people make.

Mistake 1: Listing Your Job Duties Instead of Your Accomplishments

Avoid statements such as “Job Duties” or “Job Responsibilities”. Employers want to know about your specific accomplishments and contributions to your previous employer. Did you save money, improve a process, solve a problem? By listing your accomplishments you are letting the employer know you can accomplish the work. This will certainly set you apart from the competition. When listing your accomplishments use bullet statements and action words instead of a narrative paragraph. Remember you have 30 seconds to get your point across, so make it easy to read.
For example, instead of:

• I wrote down my duties in a job manual
• I reorganized the publications and forms department

Use this instead:

• Constructed a procedure manual giving step by step instructions on how to bill a client
• Completely restructured a failing publications and forms department into a model department

Mistake 2: Not Using Key Words

Do you know that 80% of resumes are scrubbed through a database looking for key words? Those resumes where key words are identified get noticed by employers. Use key words in your qualifications and accomplishments. Think of them as encoding your resume with powerful words. Another tip is to read the job posting closely; key words employers are looking for are usually in the posting. There are many websites that list key words, one of my favorites is resumebuzzwords.net.

Mistake 3: Sending the Resume as an Attachment without Knowing how it will look

Have you ever opened an attachment and found it completely messed up? Somehow in the transmission the layout became distorted, the bullets were out of alignment, or the top of page 2 ended up on the bottom of page 1. The same thing can happen to your resume if you don’t do a test run. Email your resume to a few friends as an attachment and confirm how it looks on their computers. If it looks good, send it off to the employer. If there are problem you want to know about it now. You may have to save your resume in a text format with a .txt file extension. Making a .pdf version of your resume is another option. A variety of software applications are available to this.

Jason Kay recommends reading resume service reviews before choosing a resume writing service.

Image taken on 2006-02-28 00:14:28. Image Source. (Used with permission)

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