6 Common Resume Mistakes And How To Stand Out

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January 13, 2021

Don’t name the file “Resume”

Don’t name the file “Resume” or any variation of that. After going through 100 resumes, I had a short list of 20 candidates that I needed to whittle down to 5 or 10 people to interview. I went through the directory looking for the 20 resumes to review again in more detail, and could only find 14. I’m assuming the other 6 are somewhere the generic mass of 30 or so files titled “Resume” or something like that, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to wade through them all to check. Your resume file name should start with your actual name.

Don’t use a designed resume

Don’t use a colorfully designed or modern resume because they don’t make you stand out. It’s a lot easier for me if you focus on clearly presenting experience that will prove you’re able to get the job.

Don’t make me scroll to the third page

Don’t make me scroll to the third page to find your previous experience. If your hobbies, education and “strengths” are listed before your work experience, I’ll assume you don’t have any. That’s fine for entry level jobs, but when the position requires 3 or more years of relevant experience, if I assume you don’t have that by the end of the first page of your resume, I’m closing the file and moving on.

Give me complete information

If you’re applying to a job posted on LinkedIn, and you don’t have a resume file attached to your profile for the recruiter to download, you’re probably not getting considered for the job. I don’t care how good your LinkedIn profile is, attach a resume when you apply for a job.

Resumes should be as short as possible

Resumes should be no longer than 2 pages and as short as possible, but as long as they need to be to convey what’s important. One extra page for a cover letter is fine, but never give me a two page cover letter, because I’m in a hurry, every recruiter is. For entry level and junior positions, anything more than 2 just seems long winded, and makes me think you can’t prioritize, anything less than two pages just seems wrong for some reason. (Entry level people who have little or no experience, make it exactly 1 page, and if you’re applying for a senior management position, make it as long as you need to.)

Never take resume advice as gospel

Never take resume advice as gospel. Anything that one HR person tells you, another one will disagree with.

Finally, the whole point here is that anything you can do to make the job of the hiring manager easier helps you. This isn’t about you, it’s about a hiring manager who has to root through hundreds of resumes sometimes. Keep that in mind when you write yours, and you’ll have a leg up.

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