Resume Format Don’Ts

Writing a resume can be hard, but avoiding these resume format mistakes doesn’t have to be. The key is emphasizing your specific skill sets, expressing information clearly and choosing an attractive resume format. When presented correctly, your skills and experience will allow you to stand out from a crowd of applicants.

Don’t Choose the Wrong Format

Some resume format mistakes can be avoided by simply picking an appropriate overall format. If you’ve spent your career climbing the industry ladder, choose a chronological resume format over a functional resume format. This format will allow you to confidently display a long, unbroken record of work history in your relevant field. If your work history is highly varied or if there are substantial gaps in your employment history, consider a functional resume to highlight your skill sets. Take into account your own unique qualifications and the company’s needs when deciding, and make them align as much as you can.

Chronological Resume Format Mistakes

When you have long gaps in your relevant employment history, it can become painfully obvious on a chronological resume, in which jobs are listed by date. However, applicants with an unbroken work history can make another mistake when they list every job that they have held, sometimes stretching back decades. Remember not to make the resume so long that it tries the patience of the employer. A good rule to follow is to limit your work experience to the past 15 to 20 years. Devote one page to every 10 years of experience, unless you would like to attach an additional page devoted to publications or other special information.

Functional Resume Format Mistakes

If you lack industry-specific experience, use a functional resume format to emphasize your abilities and skills in lieu of work history. The functional resume is also appropriate for those who have recently switched fields. It will also help prevent one of the most common resume format mistakes, which is not adequately highlighting your qualifications. Be sure to include any awards you may have won, publications or other significant accomplishments. Volunteer and community work is also good to include as it reflects on your character and work ethic. This information can add a lot of value to a resume that already has the reader’s attention.

One of the most common chronological resume format mistakes is to list random skills and accomplishments without any context. Instead, go into detail about how you have applied your skills to real-world situations. These situations should be relevant to what you think your prospective employers want to see. Descriptive items, such as “highly motivated” or “problem solver,” do not offer the reader any useful information and may or may not be true. When you include actual examples of how you have demonstrated these qualities, you can prove to the recruiter that you’re worthy of consideration.

General Formatting Mistakes to Avoid

Ideally, you should choose a format that lets you present your best qualities and qualifications on just one page, unless you truly have an impressive and extensive professional history. Also, check your formatting for erroneous spaces and typos. If you are sending it as a Word document, make sure it is compatible with previous editions and can be opened by any reader. One way to avoid this complication is to send your resume as a PDF file. Remember to confirm the desired format with the company to which you are applying.

The resources at LiveCareer, including hints and tips, sample resumes and resume builders can help you craft a professional document that works.

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