Every week I have the pleasure of helping job seekers reinvent themselves and discover new ways to display their talents, achievements and experience. They often tell me that they can’t understand why no one is calling them in for interviews. To them, its shocking because they meet every qualification and then some. As soon as they send me their resume, within 5 seconds I can gather the reasons why employers are passing them up. The list below is 5 of the most common mistakes I see on resumes and the reasons why you should avoid them!
Including a photo
DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR PHOTO ON YOUR RESUME. Let me repeat myself; DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR PHOTO ON YOUR RESUME. If you are not in the business of entertainment (acting or modeling) there is no point of including your photo on your resume. Although you might be a fan of your most recent glamour headshot, I can guarantee that not everyone will be amused or in awe of your beauty.
By placing a photo on your resume, you run the risk of an employer immediately making a judgement about who you are, your professionalism and what you could bring to the table. It can also send mixed messages. The employer will either chalk you up to being vain or believing that you think you will get the job based on your looks. Have you ever heard the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” This is true in this setting as well. You do not want to run the risk of being judged (beautiful or not) before you even have a chance to sit down and show them who you really are.
Besides, the whole point of an interview is for your new employer to get to know you and how you can positively impact their company! Not how your looks will affect your role.
References to religious and cultural affiliations
I will be the first to admit that I’m a spiritual person and have led various cultural groups impacting my local community, but who needs to know that? In the current climate that we live in it is safe to say that not everyone will agree with your religious beliefs or cultural values. Again, if you are not applying to work with a religious/culturally centered organization, you will want to leave these references off your resume.
Once your resume is submitted you never know whose eyes will be looking at it and what their beliefs are. Is it fair that someone tosses your resume out simply because of a prejudice? NO! It’s completely unfair, but it is reality. People make judgements based on the information in front of them. Get your foot in the door, get the job offer and start learning more about the company culture and your coworkers. If you happen to have similar beliefs and values, great! Just don’t miss out on an opportunity based off someone making a judgement based on a perceived affiliation.
The generic resume
When looking for candidates, I’ve received hundreds of resumes with zero focus and objectives that have nothing to do with the job I posted. For jobseekers it may be easy to have a generic resume, but the truth is, there is NO one size fits all resume. I encourage jobseekers to have focused resumes that target specific fields or companies. Recruiters and managers can see through applicants who have not put in the time or effort to submit a quality application that’s geared towards their company and position.
I suggest working with a professional resume writer to come up with a focus for your resume (or 2) and map out a plan to apply to companies and postings that fit your focus. Putting in the extra effort pays out in the long run in more ways than one!
Using company jargon
Company jargon can be a quick and effective way to community… internally (a.k.a in your current organization). Outside of that, it has proven to be of little help to potential employers. I often compare company jargon to a foreign language. Just because you and a few other people you interact with can understand it, doesn’t mean that everyone can or wants to.
At the end of the day, potential employers want to know what you’ve achieved in your current and previous roles and how you can impact their bottom line. They want to know this in straightforward and simple language. Forget the long, run-on sentences full of internal office jargon and get to the point! An example is below:
Don’t say this: Requested access in WSJ to submit RQN for VCUST DEP.
Say this: Utilized internal accounting software to submit invoices to process vendor payments.
Believe it or not, I have seen the first description done many times. If you can’t figure out how to simplify your language, ask me and I can help!
Not utilizing spell check
This one speaks for itself. Your resume is the one document that stands between you and your dream job (one that can potentially change the rest of your life!). Don’t be careless. Utilize the free tools that are available to you. When interviewing employers, I have found that small mistakes such as grammar and spelling have proven to be a big turnoff. Although you may consider it a small mistake, most employers see spelling and grammar errors as unprofessional, lazy and lacking in detail. Spell check should be your best friend and when in doubt have a second pair of eyes review your resume.