Everyone knows that if you are looking for a new career you need to put your resume together. Too often, it’s not handled in the most effective/impactful manner. The first impression a recruiter or a hiring manager has of you is through your resume, and there are a few common mistakes that could make your resume land in the “do not call” pile. Here’s a list of the biggest mistakes: Don’t leave employment gaps, don’t leave off dates of employment, don’t list two jobs happening at the same time, don’t have it longer than 2 pages, and don’t write your resume like a job description.
Nothing leaves room for the imagination of an employer more than leaving gaps on your resume. If for any reason you were unemployed for a significant time (6 months or higher) you need to address it. If you do not, the hiring manager can make assumptions that are not flattering, like that you left your job for no good reason and were sitting in front of the TV for that period of time. If you were downsized, put the date you left and a few bullets on what you have been doing since. If possible, try to fill in gaps with sales/business consulting. List things/take action to show that you want to get back to work. Here’s a good example:
May 2015 to present
- Part of corporate downsizing
- Consulting part time while searching for full time employment
Another mistake people make is they do not put dates of employment on the resume. Employers want to see a clear, concise and consistent employment record. This starts from your first job out of college, even if unrelated to the industry you’re in. They also want to see longevity at your positions. No employer wants to hire someone who bounces from job to job; they’ll be worried you will do the same thing to them, whether you did it on purpose or were downsized. If there are no dates of employment, employers will assume you’re a job-hopper.
If you have dates that overlap, showing you have/had 2 jobs at the same time, it’s a big “no-no”, unless they were 2 part time jobs, in which case you should list them as such. Employers want employees to focus on the job they were hired to do and be fully committed. If you were working two positions at once, the hiring manager may think you lack commitment.
One more common mistake people make when writing a resume is to make it too long. Never have a resume over 2 pages. There is a very simple reason: recruiters and hiring managers have no time to read long resumes with too much information. Get to the point and use bullets to highlight your experience and accomplishments. Laid out properly, a hiring manager can glance at your resume, see your great experience and make a quick decision to set you up for an interview.
One more final “don’t” is do not cut and paste job descriptions, or make it read as a list of obvious responsibilities, for your employment overview. Take the time to add bullets that are very specific to your experience in the role. A Hiring Manager looking for a sales representative knows what a sales representative is. They want to know what sets you apart.
If you are changing careers, there are many articles written regarding how to write a good resume, but if you take our advice on what not to do, you will be on the way to having a great resume.