Your job search , your career goals, and your resume are yours alone. All of these things are unique to your own life and your own personality, and just as no two human beings have exactly the same plans and career expectations, no resume can—or should be—exactly the same as any other. With that in mind, if you’re tempted to make any of the moves below, follow that impulse. Don’t abandon your individuality and steer safely back into the middle of the pack.
Mistakes? Not so much. The following tips will help you get a leg up on your competition.
1. Omitting Irrelevant Positions from Your Work History
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with leaving a previous position, an education credential, or a specific skill set out of your resume document altogether. If the qualification in question isn’t relevant to the position, then it isn’t relevant to your resume—period. Never feel guilty or conflicted about this. Share the details that can help employers make an informed decision about your readiness for this position, and put everything else aside.
2. Neglecting to Include Job Descriptions
Under each work history subheading—or previous position title—some job seekers like to list the basic requirements of that job, followed a by a list of awards and special accomplishments they attained while holding that position. But sometimes it’s a better idea to skip the basic job description and move directly into a discussion of your special accomplishments. Because sometimes basic job duties are obvious to reviewers, and sometimes they don’t say much that sets you apart. Use your judgment to determine when this might be the case.
3. Offering Incomplete Explanations (or No Explanation) for Resume Gaps
If you held a non-relevant position for a few years, or took a low-skilled job just to pay the bills, or went through a period of unemployment, or took some time off for family-related reasons, you don’t have to explain this gap in the text of your resume or cover letter . You can, of course. But you don’t have to. As long as you state your dates of employment honestly and accurately, you can explain the reasons behind your gap if and when the subject comes up during a phone screening or in-person interview.
4. Self-Descriptions that Run Counter to Mainstream Expectations
Some jobs require the airbrushed corporate image of the “ideal employee:” a perky, eager, fresh-faced, hardworking, go-getting, helpful, ambitious little squirrel straight out of a stock photo. We all know this employee. His smile is his best asset. And when she goes to sleep at night, she dreams about innovation, efficiency, and customer service.
But not all jobs require this person. In fact, some managers aren’t looking for this person at all. They’re looking for someone else, and if you are that someone else, now is the time to set yourself apart from an applicant pool full of smiling squirrels and present yourself as you really are.
Some jobs are solitary, and for these positions, managers need quiet introverts. Some jobs are messy, some jobs are unpredictable, some jobs require blunt honesty instead of a smile. And some jobs are just plain weird. For these positions, managers are looking for a very specific type of weirdo to step into the role and move the company forward. If you are that weirdo, now is not the time to hide this fact.
Resume rules, like all rules, are meant to be broken and are proven by their exceptions. When it’s time to toe the line, do so. But when it’s time to steer away from the herd and forge your own path, make sure your resume supports you instead of standing in your way. Visit LiveCareer for formatting tools, guidelines, and resources that can help you make this decision.