Each week, I critique a new resume on-air over at www.jobtalkamerica.com. And over the past couple of months I’ve started to notice some of what I like to call “terrible resume trends”. They’re common mistakes that everyday job seekers are making—and they have no idea that they’re making them! (How can you fix what’s wrong if you don’t even know what that is!) Well, I’m here to open your eyes and (hopefully) start getting you some interviews. Below is a list of weaknesses (the five most common) that people tend to overlook on their resumes.
You may not think the font you choose for your resume is very important, but it communicates more than you think. Use a font that’s too small, and the documents will be too hard to read—and the hiring manager won’t even invest any time in it. Use one that’s too large and you’ll seem inexperienced and juvenile. Use Times New Roman and you’ll send a subliminal message that you’re boring—a mediocre lemming—that you’re just like everyone else. Just as the outfit you wear to the interview provides a first impression for the hiring manager, so do the font and design on your resume.
Using the terms “SUMMARY”, “PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE”, and “WORK HISTORY” are becoming sorely overused. Not to mention they waste space and don’t tell the hiring manager ANYTHING about what you’ve really accomplished. Instead, use very specific subtitles. At the top of your resume, instead of using the term “CAREER SUMMARY”, use your target job title. That way, every time you apply for a job, it’s customized to that particular position. Do the same with “PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE”. If you are in IT and work as a project manager, change the title to “PROJECT MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE”. One more thing: If you’re an executive, do not use the header “PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE” on your resume. This is a HUGE mistake. You’re sending a mixed message; in one portion of the resume you’re stating you’re an executive, but in another you are stating you’re professional. Be consistent throughout the resume.
POWERFUL PERSONAL BRANDING
If the world realized how powerful a personally branded resume was, everybody would use one. But the majority of the population is clueless. So here’s your insider tip: GET A CLUE! Underneath that shiny new job target/title that you’ll be putting at the top of your resume, include a brief one-liner about why you’re the best (insert job title here) there is (or ever was)! Use the opportunity to briefly highlight why you’re the perfect fit for their opening.
GENERIC COVER LETTERS
What a waste of space and time! Do you want to bore the hiring manager? Or engage him and give him a reason to read your resume? Your cover letter should NOT be a reproduction of your resume. Spend some time researching the company to which you’re applying, find out what their needs are—then specify in the cover letter how you can help them meet their needs. It will certainly set you apart from all the other candidates. While you’re at it, don’t start your cover letter with the predictable “Please accept this … ” “In response to … ” You’re not a mainstream candidate; you don’t run WITH the crowd—you STAND OUT! So … show the hiring manager!
REFUSING TO THANK
How many people miss the boat on this one! Take the time to thank the hiring manager for his time and to reiterate why you are excited about (and the best fit for) the opening. I can tell you right now, most people don’t send a thank you letter. In fact, in more than 10 years of working as an HR manager and recruiter, I can count on one hand the number of thank you cards or letters I’ve received. Make your mark; be memorable, be polite, seal the deal—write and send the thank you letter.
Take a more strategic approach to your job search and start thinking about what sets you apart—instead of just doing what you’ve always done—or what everyone else is doing.
Share this post:
About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
Will your resume impress employers? Take this 2-minute quiz to find out.
Get your personalized plan for a resume that stands out and lands you your dream job!
Need a little help getting hiring managers to take notice? Find out what's standing between you and those magic words "You're exactly who we've been looking for!"