Top 10 greatest resume mistakes ever /6-10

  • Post published:02/08/2012
  • Reading time:6 mins read

You will recall from my mail of last month, that the purpose of a resume can be said with these few words:

To get you an interview

Getting your resume spot on is the single most important step in any job search. You see, if your resume does not excite and impress anyone, no one will call you. You will not be invited for an interview. Obviously, if you can’t get the interview you will never get the job. Whether you like it or not, that’s part and parcel in the art of how to present yourself to a recruiter, headhunter or employer.

If you missed the first five killer mistakes that I wrote about last month, go back and read it here.

Now to the mistakes 6-10 which are guaranteed to shake you up. Learn best practice in how to botox your resume that will get people calling you. Only then will you get the interview and a shot at the job.

Mistake number 6:

Please do not use a generic resume to any and all types of jobs you apply for. The resume is not a one-fit-all document but must be a presentation that has been prepared for that specific employer and job.

Every time you use your resume, look it over, relate your presentation to what you have seen on the web site or in the newspaper. Try to incorporate the words used in the advertisement. Show that you have read and understood what they are looking for.

If you have periods without work, do not be tempted to include such period in one of the jobs you have held. During reference checking with previous employers it will surface and kill you. It’s not only once in nine years as an executive search headhunter that I have seen top performers loose a job offer because they were stupid and thought that cheating was acceptable.

It’s not long ago that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson lost his job because he had padded his resume with an embellished college degree he didn’t have.

Mistake number 7:

No matter how beautiful or handsome you are, do not attach a photo in your resume. If you do, there is just one more reason for the reader of your resume to disqualify you. Likes and dislikes are strange animals and some just hate beautiful people. But some prefer ordinary looking, some like bald and others lots of hair. You just never know what the person, reading your resume, prefers of personality style. So don’t give them an excuse to take you out.

Leave this practice to new graduates, Gen Y. Ignore the request in ads to attach a photo as it is all a trick to find a reason why you are not a fit. Trust me, if you have the right qualification, right age, years of experience, education etc., they will call you no matter what.

Mistake number 8:

Your functional responsibility is typically presented in your job description. Do not make the mistake of copy/paste these often generic meaningless statements. Instead, tell us what you did with the responsibility. Present your achievements or accomplishments. Try to be specific an indicate numbers, periods in a list of bullet points.

The words in the JD, such as empowering subordinates, as per head office instructions, in line with budgets and policies, achieve the required result as directed by the CEO, are clichés and will never be convincing.

Mistake number 9:

How many times have you seen this line in a resume: “References available upon request”. Honestly, I take for granted that you will be able to provide references so my suggestion is to drop the line. Use it to say why you are special. Add one more bullet point of achievements.

Even worse is to include names and contact details of a few people who have agreed to talk nice about you. These names do not belong on your resume but on a separate piece of paper which you can easily forward by email once the company has met you and would like to move to the next step.

By the way, reminds me about writing Resume on the top of your resume. Again, use the line for something better. Recruiters know when we see a resume. Thank you for the hint, but no thank you.

Mistake number 10:

Finally, save your resume by calling it firstname_lastname_resume.doc. Mine is called tom_sorensen_resume.doc. Too many resumes have filenames like my_resume.doc or grant_thornton.doc (for resumes sent to Grant Thornton). Your resume ends up in a big big pool of resumes so having your name up front will identify it quickly and easy.

When you submit a resume online to a recruitment company, you do not use a cover letter. The two page resume is sufficient. However, when emailing a prospect employer directly, it looks professional to have a once page cover letter. Remember, when you do use a cover letter, please merge the letter with your resume into one document. It means page 1 is the cover letter, page 2 is the first page of your resume, page 3 the second page.

Combining cover letter and resume means the attachment will always be filed or printed together. You are now so much closer to get that call.

Remember, you have to get the resume right. If it’s not professionally prepared, no one will call you. It means no interview and for sure no job offer.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.