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Common Resume Mistakes

After 30 years as a recruiter, I have pretty much seen every approach to resume writing out there. And, it is no surprise. Whether you are a recent college graduate seeking an accounting position or an experienced IT professional, writing a quality resume is difficult and time consuming. .

Luckily for you, SNI’s Career Center offers a collection of great resume writing tips and if you visit our site, you can even download a sample resume to get you started. These tools are great way for you to start your resume development process..

But, if you are like most candidates, you are also looking for way to make your resume stand out from the pack. However, nothing stands out more than a well written and easy to read resume. The following are four resume writing guidelines that I provide to all candidates that I work with. While they may seem obvious at first glance, they also represent the most common errors I see on the thousands of resumes I review each year:

  • Eliminate Errors: A professional proofreader may charge you $25-$50 to review and edit your resume. Trust me when I say: SPEND IT. When scanning a resume the second I hit a typo I stop reading and move on. Why risk not being considered because you missed something that spell-check did not catch? Have an objective proofreader – not your Mom, roommate or significant other - review your resume. Even the most accomplished writer will find two or more things that need to be fixed.
  • Skip the Humor: It seems 10 years ago some recruiter wrote an article telling people to be colorful in their resumes and the advice won’t go away. Trust me when I say that your experience and accomplishments will speak for themselves. Adding silly things, like you were a part time mime instructor and ninja in college might get a laugh, OK, I did smirk when I read it, but I did not interview the person. Show your personality and humor during the interview, but your resume is designed to present a factual summary of your experience and skills.
  • Honesty is Still the Best Policy: Whether you are a new college graduate or experienced professionals, you have something to offer an employer. Don’t eliminate yourself from the running by inflating your experience on your resume. As a recruiter, I pretty much know that if your title is marketing assistant you did not develop and launch an entire national product campaign on your own. Experienced recruiters know the job titles and the duties that go with them. We also know the employers and their performance expectations. Resist the temptation to “pump-up” your resume. After decades of doing this, I’ve never seen it really work.
  • Hit the Buzzwords: One thing that I and other recruiters look for is an alignment between the position I am helping to fill and a candidate’s skill set. When developing your resume be sure to use the right set of “buzzwords” to show that you have the skills. Don’t stop with generalities like programming experience and then list only the languages you most frequently use. Get specific by giving details like Languages/Programming: Java, J2EE, C, C++, Perl, PHP, VB.Net, SQL Server, ASP.Net, HTML, XML, SAP, ActiveX. If you are an accounting candidate, don’t limit your summary to analysis and preparation. List specifics like: budgets and forecasting, expense allocations and fixed asset reports. And for office clerical resumes, be sure to reach beyond the global statement that you have data entry skills and provide examples about the kinds of data, tools you have used like MS Excel and projects on which you have worked.

If getting an interview is your goal, then writing a strong, factual, detailed and error free resume is your best tool for success.