As recruiters, we see a lot of resumes. We’ve seen some we love, some we hate, the good, the bad, and some we simply can’t label. We’ve noticed a few recurring themes with the resumes we come across and wanted to make some suggestions in this blog.
Below are the top 3 most common mistakes that we’ve seen people make on their resume. Here is our advice on revisions to make.
1 - Resume is Too Short
There is a myth floating around that your resume needs to be one page long. We are here to tell you that it’s not true. Your resume should reflect your experience.
Rewind to when you were in college and learning how to write your first resume, in that case, the one-page resume rule applied with limited work experience to put on your resume. But the longer you are in the workforce the more experience you gain and the more you should include on your resume.
Note, it shouldn’t be the length of a novel, but it does need to be an accurate, relevant, and concise overview of your work history and experiences, that is relevant to the job you are applying to.
2 - Resume is Too Long
On the flip side, we see many resumes that are far too long, we are talking 5+ pages.
No recruiter or hiring manager has the time to read a 5+ page resume. There is no reason to have that much detail on your resume. The resume should depict your experience, accomplishments, and skills. If you have a longer resume you can make mention that a longer one is available if needed.
Again, make sure your resume is an accurate reflection of your experience. We find success with resumes between 2-3 pages for candidates with mid to senior level experiences and a contractors resume between 3-4 pages if there are several relevant projects.
3 - Resume is Too General
Many people make the mistake of being too general on their resume, focusing more on just an overview and not giving concrete examples of their experience.
It sounds like a contradiction but it is more of a science or a balance to impress and to secure an interview. The trick is to find a happy medium.
Need some help to see if it looks or sounds good? Ask a trusted colleague or friend to read it and see if they are able to understand what you do from your resume and what your career highlights have been in your field.
That will give you a starting point of what you need to work on.
Bonus: A Resume with Inconsistent Formatting
Just for fun, and because we end up having to help fix many resumes, here is a bonus mistake that we see frequently, inconsistent formatting. We know not everyone has an eye for design but this should be pretty easy given the ample online free samples to choose from.
Your resume should be orderly, formatted, with consistent fonts and sizes.
Unless you are targeting a job in “design” or “creative” we suggest leaving off crazy colors and fonts. The more you dress up your resume to make it stand out the more it just looks like you are covering up a lack of substance.
Try handing your finished resume to a friend or family member and ask them what they think of its look? Ask them to be brutally honest. Ask about the look, not the content, help with formatting will help the content shine.
As recruiters, we see a myriad of resume mistakes each and every day but these are the top 3 (with a bonus, four) that if addressed properly can help your resume stand out from the crowd.
With that said take the extra time this coming weekend to update and format your resume before you apply anywhere.