Let’s talk about resumes. At some point in your life, probably sooner than you think, you’re gonna have to write one of these things. And whether you’re applying for a job or an internship, or in some cases even a scholarship, your resume is likely going to be the first thing that the decision-maker sees, when they’re evaluating you. Which means they’re important. Now, because these things are so important, then any recruiter or hiring manager is obviously gonna give everyone they receive the utmost care and attention, right?
Wrong. In reality, most resumes are never actually seen by a human recruiter. And of those that actually do make it to a recruiter’s desk, most are unceremoniously thrown in the trash after just a few seconds. And this is just a numbers game. In fact, Google alone gets over 1 million resumes per year. And that breaks down to over 2,700 a day. Now, those numbers seem daunting and they can be a little bit intimidating, but there is some good news. Because a lot of people make some really common mistakes on their resumes that could put them out of the running. And if you could learn to avoid those mistakes, you’re gonna have a huge leg-up on the competition. So, today we are going over five of the worst resume mistakes you can make, and we’re gonna talk about how you can avoid them so that you get that dream job that you are going for.
The first mistake:
The first big mistake we’re gonna go over is the tendency for people to write their experience section in a way that lists their job duties rather than their job accomplishments. But the thing is, employers do not care about what you were expected to do at your last job. They care about what you can do for them, and they wanna see concrete examples from your past experience that point to that. And since most of them are not Albus Dumbledore and they don’t have expensive sitting in a corner, they can’t just peer into the past and watch you at work. This means it’s your responsibility to clearly and succinctly show what you accomplished in that little amount of space you have. During my senior year, I had a job on campus in the research department. And I got hired as a web developer and I did maintain the website, I did make changes to it. But at one point, I also had a small, probably three-hour project where I created an automation script that ended up saving the company about 240 hours of work.
And since people there were getting paid about nine bucks an hour, you can do the math on how much money that saved. Now even though that project only took me a few hours to do, in the eyes of a hiring manager, it would have been by far the best indication of my creative problem-solving abilities and my ability to save their company money in the future, out of anything I did there. Now, you might be thinking to yourself right now, “I don’t have a story like this, “I haven’t saved a company a ton of hours “or thousands of dollars yet.” But what you do have, is the ability to make your achievements as concrete and as specific as possible, and to quantify them. To look at another example from my resume. During my junior year, I was a resident advisor at my university. And I could’ve just said, “Helped to smoothly run a community of students,” but I put 62 students because that gives a more concrete and quantified example of how many students I was managing.
The second mistake:
Big mistake number two, believe it or not, typos and grammatical errors. And you might be thinking, “This is the most obvious boring tip that could ever “be on an article like this.” But it needs to be said because I, myself, have fallen victim to it. During the summer before my sophomore year, I was getting ready for the career fair and I created what I thought was the perfect resume. I had a ton of experiences, tons of clubs, tons of part-time jobs that I could show off. I was thinking, “I’m gonna go into that career fair, “and I am going to crush all the competition.”
But, to check off all the boxes, I decided to get a resume review from my career counselor first. So, I go into her office, I sit down, and I’m thinking this is going to be a five-minute meeting. She’s going to give me a gold star and say, “This was the best resume I’ve ever reviewed!” But instead, she pulls out a red pen and starts marking stuff up. And as she’s marking things, I start to see that she’s marking out typos. Things that I did not catch myself. And I thought my resume was perfect. So, if you can, get your resume reviewed by your career counselor. And if you can’t, at least have somebody that you trust, who isn’t you, run over it before you start handing it out. Because we are always more scrutinizing and more careful when we’re proofreading someone else’s work than our own.
The Third mistake:
The third big mistake is listing all of your experience in purely chronological order instead of its relevancy to the position you’re applying to. A lot of people think they’re actually supposed to list their experience in chronological order. But this is something that you shouldn’t do because you really do have a whole lot of time to catch the recruiter’s eye. So you wanna put the most relevant thing first. In fact, according to a study done by theladders.com, recruiters spend an average of just 6 seconds looking at a resume before throwing it into the trash and going to the next one.
So, if you’re a computer science major applying for a job, and last summer you did an internship in software development where you literally built and shipped software, but then after that you just, like, worked at Burger King during the year. You definitely want to put that software development internship at the top because a recruiter at a computer science company is not going to care so much about Burger King. Now you can definitely go too far here, which means that there is a balance that has to be struck. In fact, I got an email from somebody in their mid-20s recently who asked me if it would be a good idea to put a mission trip they did when they were 11 years old on their resume. And as I was trying to answer that person’s question, I imagined myself as the hiring director looking at that person’s resume. And all I could think of was that something like that on a resume is gonna look like just grasping at straws. I’m gonna think, “Why isn’t there anything else you’ve done “in the intervening 15 years, that deserves to kick “that thing off the resume.” Now, maybe this doesn’t apply to people who have already had long and illustrious careers, who have 20 page CVs and tons of awards on their shelf in their office. But if you are just looking for an entry-level position, or you’re just a few years into your career, then recency does matter.