College, career, and life planning resources for students and career changers
Creating a resume is hard enough for experienced professionals, but it’s particularly difficult for students with little work or job search experience. Often, students just put everything down on paper without proper editing and formatting. But being careless with your resume can be detrimental, even for entry-level jobs and internships. Read on for seven common resume mistakes that can cost you a coveted job or internship.
Are you a college student? Then it’s time to remove most, if not all, high school activities. If you’re a college senior, then your college achievements should be enough to fill a resume and it’s time to drop high school stuff. Potential employers want to know what you’ve achieved recently, and older information isn’t as important. Although you may be proud of your high school achievements, it’s time to drop them from a resume once you’re well into college.
Your love of skiing may be interesting to some, but unless it’s relevant to your career, it doesn’t belong on your resume. Other stuff that doesn’t belong: family details and biographical information (birthplace, kids, pets, etc.), age or birthdate, standardized or IQ test scores (unless specifically requested). A resume is meant to determine if your qualified for the actual job, and irrelevant information doesn’t help hiring managers make that determination. At the interview, you may be asked about your interests and hobbies, but that will be after candidates have been narrowed down based on professional qualifications.
Hiring managers are looking at dozens if not hundreds of resumes for each position, so they have to scan each resume quickly to get an idea of whether or not the applicant fits. That quick scan can make the difference in whether or not you get the job, so you want to make it easy for the reader to see everything. First, remove long sentences and use bullet points. Break up different sections (education, work experience, skills) and bold the heading of each section. Use keywords, which can usually be found in the job description, because these are likely what the hiring manager is trying to find. Finally, avoid atypical fonts or colors.
As a student or recent graduate, you may not have very specific career goals yet. But a resume should be focused enough that potential employers can get an idea of where you want to go with your career. Keeping irrelevant information out of the resume can go along way to keeping it focused on career-related topics, but you should also remove items that don’t fit with your target industry. There’s no rule that says you must have only one resume, so if you are applying to several different types of positions you can tailor resumes for each job. In fact most applicants can benefit from creating more than one resume, which leads to the next point.
Each job listing is different, so why shouldn’t your resume accommodate those differences? Tailoring your resume to fit each job demonstrates to hiring managers that your interests and capabilities align closely with the position. A generic resume is noticeable and will likely end up in the trash. It may seem tedious to rework your resume each time you apply for a job, but the extra effort will pay off greatly.
It may seem that a long resume equals a more impressive resume. However the common recommendation for resume length is one page. Recommended resume or CV length varies depending on industry and experience level, but most students should stick to one page – not only because it’s easier to quickly scan, but also because it forces you to include only relevant information.
Obvious grammatical and spelling errors demonstrate a general lack of concern and inattention to detail. Employers in every industry want serious, motivated workers and a sloppy resume is a huge red flag that you lack those qualities. First, use your computer’s spelling and grammar check to remove obvious mistakes. Then, have someone else read over your resume. Sometimes it’s hard to spot problems in your own work, so a different set of eyes can be helpful.
By tweaking your resume and avoiding the mistakes above, you’ll greatly increase your interview opportunities and, as a result, your chances of securing an internship or job. For more job search advice read Knock ’em Dead 2014: The Ultimate Job Search Guide