The resume is one of the most important documents you will ever write. While usually only 1-2 pages, resumes can either immediately disqualify you from a job or pique the employer’s interest and create an excellent first impression of you as a professional. It’s natural to worry about resume format mistakes, but fortunately writing an effective resume is fairly straightforward, and expectations are somewhat uniform.
Think Like the Employer
When you’re trying to determine what to include in your resume, a great policy is to place yourself in the position of your potential employers. What is it they want from an employee? Asking this can provide you with a launching point, and it will help you prioritize the various qualifications that are most desired.
If it has been a while since you have written a resume, things have changed. Although you may have been taught that a proper resume begins with an objective statement or introduction such as, “A senior-level sales position for XYZ Gizmos,” including an outdated and narrowly focused objective statement is actually one of the most common resume format mistakes. After all, the interviewer already knows you want the job.
Instead of an objective statement, use a concise summary statement, which is essentially an elevator pitch or that spells out what sets you apart as a qualified candidate. Think of it as your entire resume boiled down into a 4-6 line paragraph that paints you as the perfect candidate for the specific job. Because employers take an average of six seconds skimming through each resume before deciding whether to give you further consideration, a strong summary statement at the head of your resume is a great opportunity to get their attention.
Make It Fit
Avoid the temptation to send out one generic, one-size-fits-all resume for different jobs. For example, if you are applying for a position in the IT field, emphasize hard skills, certifications, programs you can operate and so on. If you are applying for a job as a waiter, bring up your positions in customer service. You will most likely want to use the chrono-functional resume schematic; that way, you can avoid the resume format mistake of not highlighting the right jobs in your experience section. While it’s a good idea to include a very brief, complete work history, tailor the resume to the job by bringing up your most relevant experiences and qualifications.
Keep It Simple
If you’re a creative type, guard against injecting too much creativity into your resume. The reason for the conservative approach is that special fonts, color schemes and irregular use of white space are resume format mistakes that can easily distract an employer from the substance of your resume.
Along the same lines, keep your wording concise. While you should write in first person, there is no need to write in complete sentences. Keep it simple with strong action verbs and bullets, as shown in the following experience highlights:
- “Created, published, and distributed grassroots magazine on a shoestring budget.”
- “Achieved savings of $1,000 through efficiency improvements.”
- “Generated viral social media traffic, providing my company with 5,000+ likes on Facebook using my content marketing and copywriting abilities.”
While you’ll want to check your facts and make sure all your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed, it’s hard to beat the impact of a few examples of your exceptional qualifications. Even if it’s only volunteer-related, it’s never a mistake to share relevant experiences that could make you a more valuable candidate.
Another great way to prevent resume format mistakes is to take advantage of LiveCareer’s helpful hints and examples.