Navigating the job market any time is brave. Trying to get a job now during the corona-virus season can be really intimidating for people looking for work. You control your messaging and image. As a job seeker, your resume is generally the first thing an employer will see as they determine whether you will be considered or disqualified for a position. You cannot afford to casually submit one that has not been carefully crafted.

   Human Resource professionals may sift through hundreds of resumes in their attempt to fill vacant jobs within a company. Their eyes are trained to scan each one for a quick three to five seconds, looking for obvious mistakes. Here is a guide to avoid common and preventable mistakes on your resume. If you really want that job you are applying for, you want to outshine everyone else. Don’t make simple amateur mistakes.

Mistake #1: Using a Template
Avoid using resume templates found on the internet or software programs. Hiring managers will generally disqualify them right away, assuming that you, the job seeker, don’t know how to create your own or that you take short cuts.

Mistake #2: Unconventional Format
Creativity should be reserved for those applying for creative jobs. In those cases, many times portfolios are in order. For most, it is best to stick to traditional formats. The contact information block should be centered at the top of the page. In most cases, sections to follow should be in this order: Summary of qualifications, Work History (or Experience), and Education. All text should be black and fonts should be standard, arial, times new roman, calibri, or cambria. Your name should be the biggest text on the page. Otherwise all text should be 10 or 11 points. The use of pictures or colors are considered unprofessional. This format isn’t jazzy, but it is effective.

Mistake #3: No Keywords
As you probably know, most (if not all) jobs applied for are online. You know the drill. You go to a career website or web-crawler and click the link to read the job posting and click the next link to begin the application process. What most people don’t know is that what you submit online is going through a myriad of filters… those filters are looking for “key words.” What are the significant words the employer used in the job posting? Those are the words they expect to see in a resume and/or cover letter. No keywords? No invitation for an interview or next steps. Someone else will get that job.

Mistake #4: Using an “Objective”
The objective of applying for the job is to get the job! This section became obsolete over ten years ago. Instead, use this introductory space for your summary. There are several headings that are appropriate, such as Summary, Professtional Summary, or none at all. This is the only section that you can get away with not using a section title. If you are struggling for space, elimination of this title may help.

Mistake #5: Typos and Grammatical Errors
Spelling and punctuation count! Read and reread your content. Ask someone you trust to do the same. Do not depend on spell check. You may type the word ‘manger’ when you mean to write ‘manager.’ A hiring manager will immediately notice the difference. If you are careless with your quality of work at the resume level, they will assume you will not be careful when it comes to performing the details of the job.

Mistake #6: An Unfocused Resume
This is the era of customizing your resume to fit the needs of the hiring company. You should make yourself very familiar with the job posting to include key skills, experiences, and education that apply to what the job posting requests. If you simply apply with a one-size-fits-all document, the human resource professional will pass your resume by quickly. You must demonstrate on paper that you have
what it takes to do the job with excellence. Be sure to add statistics and percentages in your job history or experiences if the job you are applying for depends on these as benchmarks and deliverables. If you are clearly not qualified for this position, don’t spend time applying. In this market, there will be others who do have the required credentials. If you want to transition your career into this new market but lack the skills, experience, or education, then investigate options. Do you go back to school to further your education? Do you take a lesser position to get a foothold in a company to be in position for a promotion should that opportunity come? Think out of the box.

Mistake #7: Unorganized Job Information Blocks
Hiring managers expect to see information presented in a cohesive format… When providing past job information, begin with the name of the company. Depending on space, you might be able to include your job title on that line. To the very right margin, your employment dates (chronological resume) or years/ months in service (functional) should appear.

Mistake #8: Too Many Jobs That Don’t Matter
The hiring employer only cares about whether you have the skills, experience, and/or eduction to do the job they have advertised.Sadly, people submit one-sized-fits-all resumes that simply provide lists of jobs held and the tasks required. The new employer may not care at all about that job or those tasks.The sophisticated job applicant will carefully filter the important experiences and feature only those that apply
and will impress.

Mistake #9: Your Resume Is Too Short or Too Long
In most cases, resume information should be condensed to one page. However, if you are applying for a professional position and have significant benchmarks and achievements, then two pages may be your option. Take note, no matter which you choose – one page or two – be sure you have enough interesting experience to include to keep the hiring manager’s attention. If using two pages, be sure to use the entire second page to reinforce your capabilities.

Mistake #10: You Reveal Your Age
Discrimination is a no-no. Age should never be a factor when hiring. However, in the real world, unfortunately, age is taken into consideration. At the resume level, it should be a ‘level’ playing field. Skill, experiences, and education should trump everything else. A candidate may be too young or too old for the hiring manager’s first consideration. Frankly, age does have its benefits. But it also has its drawbacks. In today’s job market, there are at least five generations vying for the same positions. You must qualify yourself based on qualifications. You must also be able to compete with the ability to successfully work with other men and women from other generations.
If you get an interview based on your resume, you will then need to ace your interviewing skills to confidently navigate this round of filtering. Don’t worry, one step at a time. If your resume is written correctly for the job you are applying for, you will have the opportunity to compete for the job at the interview stage.

Mistake #11: Information that Just Doesn’t Matter
The topics may range from listing past jobs that don’t relate to the new potential job to an uninteresting list of hobbies. This is the time to think like the hiring manager. What do they want to know? What do they need to see in a candidate to successfully place someone in that open position? If you decide to list hobbies or volunteer experiences, it would be wise to vet your interests with those of the hiring companies. More-so with corporations, specific areas of giving back interests are revealed, and perhaps highlighted on their websites.

Mistake #12: No Cover Letter
Please know, for many traditional job applications, a cover letter is not required. However, if you are applying for a “professional” position, it would be in your best interest to include one. Also, you might find yourself in an unusual job seeking environment… a situation unique from what other job seekers are encountering who don’t have to explain. The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself and to give the hiring manager extra insight to you and your interests. You may be able to win an interview based on information you can easily share that is not appropriate for the resume. This is not an opportunity to share your dire, desperate circumstances or to beg!

So, there you have it… our Top 12 Resume Mistakes to avoid. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to our Employment/Career Coach at Encompass Ministries, free of charge. When it comes to resumes, there are so many moving factors. We hope this information helps you in your quest. We have more tips and techniques to share. Feel free to reach out to us for more information!