When you apply for a job, the information you include on your resume can determine your success. An effective resume is the root of a successful job search. As such, it is important that your resume emphasizes the positive for you—and some things are best omitted.
An employer who finds something he doesn’t like when he reviews your resume is unlikely to tell you about it—even if he goes to the trouble of sending you a rejection at all. So, it’s best to learn about common resume mistakes on your own.
Pictures, Weird Type Fonts, and Other Distracting Elements
Many job applicants are tempted to try to attract attention t themselves with their resumes. But it’s a mistake to do it in a distracting, immature, or just plain silly way. Leave out graphics, cartoons, glitter, or any unusual type fonts. Your goal is to create an air of professionalism. You want to draw attention to your qualifications, experience, education, and accomplishments—not an overly “pretty” or “cute” resume.
Unrelated Work Experience, Hobbies, Skills, Etc.
Even if you can type 100 words a minute, or lift 50 pounds, omit information that doesn’t directly relate to the job in question. Include only information that really counts. Most job postings clearly indicate responsibilities, duties and skills, so you’ll usually have a good idea what qualifications you need to address.
Poor Education Details, Criminal Past, or Other Unfavorable Information
Even worse than including irrelevant information is including things that reflect unfavorably upon you. If your grades left something to be desired, or you’ve been charged with a crime, the less said about it, the better. Highlight the most positive aspects of your career, education and skills. If a prospective employer has you fill out an application which asks about, for example, your criminal record, or directly asks you about such matters, that’ll be soon enough to bring them up.
Unprofessional and Boring Language
Using slang and other unprofessional language can hurt your chances, too. Use only the King’s English. While a limited amount of jargon might be acceptable, if it shows that you are knowledgeable about the expressions people who work in a particular industry use, keep it to a minimum: you never know who will end up reading your resume. Be creative in the words you choose, but remember that creativity should never undercut professionalism, only enhance it.
Don’t Lie or Embellish
Outright lying and even overstatement, such as embellishing your skills, is ill-advised. If you barely passed a class in HTML, claiming that you know how to create a full website could get you into trouble. Your employer will catch on soon after you’re hired. This could lead to termination–and greatly hurt your chances of being rehired.
Private Details and Personal Beliefs
Your personal beliefs, a physical description, and other private details should not appear, either. Although outright discrimination is illegal, nothing requires recruiters to state why they turn down a particular applicant. If you include personal details, you may give them a reason to reject you that you could have said nothing about.
Don’t Overdo It
It’s also a mistake try to tell everything about each job you’ve held. That might make your resume too long, in any case. Instead, concentrate on the highlights: the elements that show that you are qualified and experienced with the tasks you’ll be taking on, in your new job. Also, for the most part, you should list only jobs in your last 10 – 15 years, unless you have some special reason to include something you did longer ago. (In today’s fast-changing job market, that’s very unlikely.) You don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done.
Customize, Customize, Customize
Including anything that looks “canned” or tangential to the job posting or ad you’re responding to, can hurt you. A man wouldn’t say exactly the same words to 100 different women he was trying to get a date with, would he?
For example, if you lead your resume with a career summary, make sure that it matches the job requirements. Otherwise, leave it off. If the employer feels you are talking past him, rather than to him, he’ll hire someone else.
Remember, submitting your resume is often the first step to getting a job interview. Careful decisions about what to include and exclude will ensure that you have the best chance to getting the job.