I do a lot of recruiting support, so I see a lot of resumes. And, as a result of seeing, literally, thousands of them, I can talk to you about a few simple errors people make.
1) Basic errors
I can’t emphasize this enough: a grammatical or spelling error on your resume is like a great big pulsing hideous zit sitting right on your nose. We notice it. It stands out. We pretend that we don’t, and sometimes, it really doesn’t matter. But better to find the little bastards and kill them than to submit them.
For the love of God, unless it’s essentially part of the interview, such as a publishing or graphic design job, don’t get too fancy with the resume. Seriously. Your jobs, your title, bullet points about what you did, that’s all we’re really interested in. No clip art, no bad puns, and for the love of God, stop playing with fonts. While we’re on the topic:
It seems basic, but double-check your fonts. Use something standard across the board, like Helvetica or Arial. Even the most qualified candidate in the world is going to look like a clown if you open up his resume and it looks like it was written entirely in Dingbats.
4) Useless information
Seriously, including your “hobbies” on a resume makes you look like either you’re padding it out or that you’re a total dork. You might as well show up in a cloak for your interview and talk to the receptionist for fifteen minutes about your paladin.
Most employers really, really don’t care what you do with your free time as long as it’s not something that will embarass them. No matter WHAT somebody tells you, unless the employer specifically asks, don’t include it. That’s something for the interview.
“Objective” is a bit trickier. Personally, as a guy screening these things, I glance at it, but nobody ever tells me “Sort these resumes by objective”. On the resume level, it is all about experience.
It’s not bad, I guess, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation where it will genuinely put you over. Again, your ultimate objective WILL come up in the interview. Better to leave it off.
There’s one exception to this: if you hold some form of leadership position, and it’s relevant to your field or the role, by all means, bring that up. Raising a few thousand for cancer research is awesome on its own, but it says to your employer that you have leadership skills and that you show commitment outside your job.
Here are six very important letters: d-o-c and p-d-f. Have your resume in both. Most employers can deal with PDF, but there are still some who ask for .doc formatted materials.
You should always have a longer version sitting around, but most employers and all recruiters do not want to read about every job you’ve had going back to high school. So have a two page version with just the key highlights, and send both to recruiters and one when cold-contacting a potential employer.
7) Jobs included
Nobody screening you for an office job cares that you shoveled popcorn for whining brats at a movie theater when you were fifteen. Unless it’s directly relevant (or if that really is your only work history), leave off the high school jobs!
And these are just the basic problems I run into. Wait until we talk about the INTERVIEW.