Top 10 Pitfalls of Résumé Writing
- Too long. Most new graduates should restrict their résumés to one page. If you have trouble condensing, get help from a technical or business writer or a career center professional.
- Typographical, grammatical or spelling errors. These errors suggest carelessness, poor education and/or lack of intelligence. Have at least two people proofread your résumé. Don’t rely on your computer’s spell-checkers or grammar-checkers.
- Hard to read. A poorly typed or copied résumé looks unprofessional. Use a plain typeface, no smaller than a 12-point font. Asterisks, bullets, underlining, boldface type and italics should be used only to make the document easier to read, not fancier. Again, ask a professional’s opinion.
- Too verbose. Do not use complete sentences or paragraphs. Say as much as possible with as few words as possible. A, an and the can almost always be left out. Be careful in your use of jargon and avoid slang.
- Too sparse. Give more than the bare essentials, especially when describing related work experience, skills, accomplishments, activities, interests and club memberships that will give employers important information. Including membership in the Society of Women Engineers, for example, would be helpful to employers who wish to hire more women, yet cannot ask for that information.
- Irrelevant information. Customize each résumé to each position you seek (when possible). Of course, include all education and work experience, but emphasize only relevant experience, skills, accomplishments, activities and hobbies. Do not include marital status, age, sex, children, height, weight, health, church membership, etc.
- Obviously generic. Too many résumés scream, “I need a job—any job!” The employer needs to feel that you are interested in that particular position with his or her particular company.
- Too snazzy. Of course, use good quality bond paper, but avoid exotic types, colored paper, photographs, binders and graphics. Electronic résumés should include appropriate industry keywords and use a font size between 10 and 14 points. Avoid underlining, italics or graphics.
- Boring. Make your résumé as dynamic as possible. Begin every statement with an action verb. Use active verbs to describe what you have accomplished in past jobs. Take advantage of your rich vocabulary and avoid repeating words, especially the first word in a section.
- Too modest. The résumé showcases your qualifications in competition with the other applicants. Put your best foot forward without misrepresentation, falsification or arrogance.