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Four Common Mistakes That Could Land Your Resume in the Reject Pile

Senior Technical Recruiter, Arizona & Washington

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What information should you include in your résumé? It’s a simple question with a straightforward answer: contact information, an opening statement, certifications and awards, skills, work experience and education. But in today’s job market, the more pressing question is: What should you leave out? Not only will asking and answering this question help you sharpen your résumé, it could be the difference between getting filed in the reject pile and landing an interview.

Here are four common mistakes job hunters make on their résumés — and ways to avoid them.

1. Including irrelevant work experience

The point of your résumé is to explain why you’re right for the job, not to provide a laundry list of the things you’ve done in your life. Stick to sharing past work experience that relates best to the position you’re applying for. If you’re angling for a job in web development, for example, your old job at a car wash is probably irrelevant. That being said, if you’re changing industries then highlight transferrable skills from your old jobs that you could put to use in the new role you’re applying for.

2. Descriptions that don’t say enough

When listing your work experience, share accomplishments rather than duties. An employer doesn’t need or want to read up on old job descriptions. They’d prefer to know about your previous successes — and they’ll want to see the figures to prove it. For this reason, while descriptions are good, dollar signs, percentages and numbers are better. Not only do they naturally draw in the eyes of hiring managers, they provide hard evidence to support your assertion that you’re the right person for the job.

3. Having an unorganized template

It may not seem fair, but one minor typo can eliminate you from the candidate pool. Hiring managers often interpret such mistakes as indicative of your attention to deal or even your level of commitment. A messy résumé can raise these red flags as well. The simplest solution is to seek a second (or third) opinion for both content and style. It may even be beneficial to ask your employed friends and family members to share with you the résumé that got them their job so that you can get a better idea of what works.

4. Forgetting to tie loose ends

Providing a clean, typo-free document is a given, but it’s not enough. You need to make sure that when hiring managers read your résumé they don’t have reason to raise an eyebrow. If there was a sizable break between jobs, for example, employers will be looking for an explanation. Perhaps you dedicated that time to volunteering or travelled. Or perhaps you were unable to find a job out of school or after being laid off. Whatever the case, it’s better to address the lapse than to leave employers wondering.

Article originally written by Megan Santos: