Recruiters and hiring managers typically spend less than a minute on the first read of a resume, so you need to make a great impression right away. In addition to the other resume tips provided on the Career Resources page, here are some mistakes you should make sure to avoid:
1. Weird or Small Fonts
Choose a professional and easy-to-read font (Arial, Helvetica, Calibri, Times New Roman) and stick to it throughout your resume. Avoid whimsical, unprofessional or hard-to-read fonts (Comic Sans, Papyrus, Brush Script). Use one font size for headers and another for the body, ensuring both are large enough to be legible.
2. Superfluously Creative
Although it’s important to ensure your resume stands out, you should not do so by getting overly creative with graphics and colours. Unless you are applying for a creative job like graphic design, you should keep the layout simple and avoid unnecessary embellishments.
3. A Little Spillage
If your resume mostly fits on one page, with just a few lines spilling onto a second, clean it up with smart editing and formatting to make it fit nicely on a single page. If your resume is two pages, avoid splitting paragraphs or bulleted lists between the two pages—play with formatting to keep sections together.
4. Storytelling Your Whole Career
Your resume should give a brief overview of your career as it pertains to the job you’re applying for. The entire history of your work experience is not necessary to share with potential employers. If you are applying to be a Controller at a publicly traded company, then your Sandwich Artist experience from 15 years ago probably isn’t relevant. Focus on work and education that is relevant to the job posting, especially your most recent experiences.
5. Missing Keywords
Recruiters and employers search for resumes with keywords. When writing a resume, it’s important to think about which keywords or phrases they’re looking for to ensure you get noticed. Look at the job posting for cues and mirror the language (for example, if the job posting indicates they’re looking for strong project management skills and that’s within your skillset, make sure it’s stated in your resume!).
6. Outdated Resume
Failing to update your resume with each submission will make you look obsolete. Make sure your work history and skills are current, again taking cues from the job posting about the skills they are looking for. Use present tense when talking about a current role (i.e. ‘analyze user data’) and past tense (i.e. ‘analyzed user data’) when talking about a past role.
When you write your resume, you should always list your strongest and hardest hitting statements first. Since most readers simply scan over the document, you should place the strongest statements, duties, or accomplishments at the beginning of each section of your resume. If you fail to do so, your reader may never get to your best work in a section because you have it buried beneath mundane tasks.