Writing your resume: Top 5 things not to do

You’re writing your own resume so reading through the content it seems everything makes perfect sense…anyone in the same field should be familiar with these skills & abilities. Don’t assume this is always the case. Of course it all makes complete sense to you because this is work you completed and skills you learned. It doesn’t matter that the person reviewing your resume is in the same field. Don’t assume the person reviewing your resume will have the same clarity as you when reading your content.

Your experience and skill level is different from other candidates. The employer reviewing your resume doesn’t know you or anything about you and that’s why it’s important to paint a clear picture of your skills and abilities on your resume. What makes you special and unique?

list unrelated degrees
If you have multiple undergraduate or multiple graduate degrees focus on listing those that are related to your current job search. Although these degrees were clearly great accomplishments, listing multiple degrees with very different disciplines can give the impression you don’t have clear career goals or can’t make definitive decisions about your career direction.

This doesn’t speak well to decision making abilities and commitment…which are two important characteristics for any employee. There may be very good reasons why you made the decision to study several different programs but the employer isn’t aware of these reasons as they review your resume…and therefore it could be confusing and viewed negatively.

create too many pages
Having a multi-page resume may give the impression that you accomplished alot and have great experience to highlight. Don’t get me wrong…this could be true. Having a long career could easily lead to a two page resume but creating a two page resume filled with content unrelated to your current job search is not going to help you land the interview…and that is the resume’s primary purpose. A longer resume doesn’t automatically make you a more appealing candidate…your content directly related to the job does that.

Avoid filling up your resume with unrelated content that the employer is not interested in reading. Resume space is too limited and valuable for that. If you only have enough relevant content for a one page resume that will be a much better document then extending it to two pages with content you may be proud of but has nothing to do with your current job search. Only write a two page resume if the content on the second page is necessary, relevant and going to help you land the interview.

highlight daily tasks
I just mentioned above that resume space is limited and valuable. If you’re filling up this space with a list of tasks you complete on a daily basis then you have wasted this space and probably created a resume that is unappealing and a bit boring to read. Use this space to highlight your accomplishments, your major projects completed from each job. Quantify your accomplishments and goals when possible. Showcase your experiences that helped you become a desirable candidate for the position you’re pursuing.

This type of information provides a much better overall picture of your abilities than just a list of daily tasks. The resume is all the employer has when making a decision to invite you in for an interview…don’t think you can wait until the interview to discuss your accomplishments. You may not make it there.

forget about formatting
While there is no doubt content is most important for your resume. Remember this is a professional document you are presenting to a prospective employer. It should look polished and professional just like any presentation or report you would generate if you actually worked for the company. It needs to make a good first impression for you. The appearance of your resume could tell the employer even more about who you might be as an employee. Like your attention to detail, your ability to organize information in a document, your ability to create a document that effectively sells your content to the reader or your ability to create an appealing document that someone actually wants to read.

Make sure you have created a format that compliments your content and you have listed the most important content first. Your resume should be easy to read…the content should flow nicely on the page and have a professional appearance. Be consistent with the font you choose, formatting section titles and organizing skills. There’s not much worst than having all the right skills but creating a resume that no one wants to read. They’ll never have a chance to learn about your skills.

What questions or comments do you have about resume writing?