Avoid These 8 Resume Fails

Avoid These 8 Resume Fails

Posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
© 2014 Robert Half. Original publish date: 08.27.14
These eight blunders could cost you your dream job; avoid them at all costs.

No matter how much time you’ve spent crafting impressive lists of credentials and accomplishments, one mistake on your resume can get it thrown in the round file. In resume writing, what you leave out is just as important as what you include. From clunky constructions and extraneous expressions to plain old typos, these eight blunders could cost you your dream job. Avoid these resume-writing fails at all costs:

1. Typos

It doesn’t matter how qualified you are for the job, typos in your resume can spell the difference between getting invited for an interview and never hearing from the company again. It’s not just your words and grammar you have to double-check: Be mindful of figures, dates and any other numbers in your resume that don’t add up.


2. Dishonesty — or brutal honesty

Although the point of resume writing is to sell yourself, you should never lie about or exaggerate your experience or work history. Not only is it unethical, but the hiring manager might uncover your lie and show you the door.

At the same time, it’s also not wise to tell too much. Save the sensitive topics that might need explanation — such as why you left your last job — for the actual interview, ifit should come up.


3. Needless statements

The old objective statement and “references available upon request” are quickly on their way to extinction, and for good reason. Employers would much rather see a well-thought-out summary of your qualifications, accomplishments and skills in action than a generic statement about how your goal is to “find meaningful and challenging employment at a successful company.” Likewise, it’s a given that employers will conduct a reference check if they like you; there’s no need to jump the gun.


4. Over-the-top language

Don’t go about your resume writing with a look-how-sophisticated-I-am approach. Hiring managers are too busy to translate your business-speak or unpack your unnecessarily complicated sentences. They want clear and concise information on why you’re a good fit for the job, not how well you can use a thesaurus.


5. Being too clever

Unless you’re applying for a job with Jon Stewart, it’s a risky move to use humor or wordplay in your resume and application. Jokes can fall flat — or even offend — in written form. The same goes for metaphors or similes. Save them for a creative writing class.


6. Long lists of duties

A boring catalog of tasks you completed won’t be nearly as effective as a list of actual career achievements. Employers don’t need to know the job description of each of your previous positions. Instead, they want to be impressed by how you’ve made a difference in a company’s bottom line. Do this through examples and statistics — how many new clients you brought in, how much money your initiative saved, how much Web traffic your campaign got.


7. Salary and benefit requirements

Some job postings ask for salary requirements. If the one you target does, think carefully about putting down your desired range: If yours is too high, you’ve just taken yourself out of contention, but if it’s too low, you could be leaving money on the table. (You can compare salaries for your position in various geographic areas by using a salary calculator.)

If a salary requirement is not requested in the job ad, don’t include it. Similarly, don’t mention the perks or benefits you desire. Doing so is presumptive and bad resume-writing etiquette. If the hiring manager is interested, there’ll be plenty of time to discuss salary and benefits later in the interview process.


8. Extras that subtract

Just as it’s easy to overshare on social media, there can also be TMI in resume writing. A resume is not the place to discuss hobbies or interests that are unrelated to your line of work. Similarly, mentioning affiliations that are potentially controversial could unwittingly prejudice the hiring manager against you. Those conversations are better kept among friends.

Your resume should reflect the facts and accomplishments of your professional career to date. What will help you get that job? Flawless and succinct language and clear examples of achievements and skills. Extraneous fluff and attempts at creative writing will not.