Writing a resume is hard. It can be difficult to write about yourself (even for me) and look at your accomplishments objectively.
Additionally, writing a resume is not intuitive, and it’s not something that is really taught in school, so many people are forced to make do with what they know and attempt to create a document they think will help them succeed.
Whether you’ve created your resume on your own or acquired help, there are three mistakes you’re probably making on your resume. Don’t get scared; they are simple fixes that will instantly make your document more effective.
You don’t have a skills matrix at the top
One of the most important things to include on your resume is a skills matrix up at the top. This will be below your headlining statement and above your professional experience, but it is extremely important that it’s towards the top of your document.
This is where you’ll include any specialized skills, software knowledge, languages, etc. It’s a surefire way to highlight what you can do for the company and what skills you possess.
Studies show that hiring managers and recruiters look at individual resumes for an average of six seconds each, so it is essential that you highlight your skills at the top of your document.
This way, if they only read one section of your document, they will immediately be able to tell if you qualify for the position or not.
You want to give readers an easy and effective way to see what you can do and what skills you possess.
By providing this information at the top of your resume, readers don’t have to dig through job descriptions to figure it out.
You’re not writing (or editing) your resume with your desired job description in front of you
Many people make the mistake of writing or editing their resume without specific jobs in mind. The key to a great resume is creating a strong focus for your document so someone can immediately see how you’d be a good fit for the job you’re applying to.
This means that you need to go through the job descriptions that you’re interested in applying to and integrate those keywords and phrases throughout your document.
Perhaps you’re happy with your current role, but you eventually want to further your career within the same industry. Do a bit of research and find industry-specific roles that interest you, and use those job descriptions for inspiration.
Do they utilize keywords or phrases which you can utilize in your resume?
Does a job description have a more eloquent way of wording one of your job duties?
If you’re not using current job postings to help you write your resume, you’re doing yourself a disservice. See how industry professionals talk about jobs and utilize that in your document. Using industry jargon will help you appear more professional and knowledgeable about what you do.
You’re highlighting your current/past job duties and not your achievements
“Subjective terms and clichés are seen as negative because they don’t convey real information. For instance, don’t say you are ‘results-driven’; show the employer your actual results,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.
It is absolutely important to highlight the specifics of your role, however, if you’re only highlighting the job description and not your achievements, your resume will not be as effective as it could be.
You want to show potential employers what you have accomplished so they can get a better idea of what you will bring to the company and what you can do for them.
If you only talk about the role you played but don’t show them what you did within that role, your resume will not serve you well. Include as much data and metrics as possible. Here are some great examples of metrics to include in your resume:
- How many accounts did you manage?
- How much in sales volume did you secure? (weekly, monthly, or annually)
- Did you reduce cost? (either by a percentage or dollar amount)
- How many clients did you interact with (daily, weekly, monthly, or annually)
- Did you surpass a quota?
- Did you manage a team? If so, how many team members did you manage?
- Did you work with any notable clients or vendors?
You may not have metrics off the top of your head, so go ahead and calculate them. Do some research and figure out your personal statistics! As long as you can prove your work and your numbers, you can include it on your resume.
Whether or not you know it, there are three mistakes you’re probably making on your resume. If you’re one of the many people making these mistakes, all you have to do is fix them and move forward.
Writing a resume is hard, so don’t dwell on your missteps. Learn from them and continue to improve. If you get really overwhelmed, reach out for help.
There are people out there (like me) who are willing and able to help. If you ever get discouraged, remember that there’s a reason why certified professional resume writers have a job.
Writing a resume can be tough, however, if you fix these three mistakes you’re probably making on your resume, your document will instantly become more effective!
Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer, personal branding expert, and founder of Write Styles. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals’ application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles provides resources to enhance your resume, professional appearance, and boost your confidence. Michele strives to help others gain the confidence to put their best foot forward in a personal and professional light.