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5 Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Your resume gets your foot in the door -- or it gets thrown in the trash. The good news is that careful crafting of an effective resume is easier than you think. Remember these three things: relevant, recent, and honest. At the same time, avoid the five biggest resume mistakes listed beneath the cut and be on your way to your next job.

Your resume gets your foot in the door — or it gets thrown in the trash. The good news is that careful crafting of an effective resume is easier than you think. Remember these three things: relevant, recent, and honest. At the same time, avoid the five biggest resume mistakes listed beneath the cut and be on your way to your next job.

(Photo Credit: flazingo_photos/Flickr)

1. Typos

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I can hear you yawning. Every article about writing good resumes warns about typos, and many readers think, “Yeah, yeah, tell me something I don’t already know!” A survey in 2012 found that 58 percent of professional resumes submitted to employers had typos. And if you think that percentage is high, 76 percent of employers have affirmed that one or two typos on a resume is enough to reject the candidate.

Even if you’ve written textbooks about grammar and spelling, proofread your resume, ask a friend to look it over, and remember that spell-check is your friend.

2. Length

This mistake gets more and more difficult to avoid as you continue to work, to take classes, and to grow. Some experts say that you should keep your resume to one page; others suggest one page per 10 years of work.

Remember that your resume tells the potential employer a story about who you are and why you would make a good fit for the company. Therefore, when considering what to keep in and what to take out, keep the experience that is most relevant to the position for which you are applying.

For example, your skydiving hobby may make you a very interesting person, but it’s not relevant to your skills in accounting. However, if you have taught skydiving and are applying for a teaching job, it is very relevant. Focus on the recent and the relevant.

3. Confidential Information

Sometimes employees obey the letter of the law, but not the spirit. Google SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock warns job seekers not to break their promise of confidentiality to current and former employers. For example, Bock once saw a resume on which the job seeker did not name his current employer’s client, but made it obvious via the description. This person’s current employer had a strict policy of not discussing who the clients were. Bock immediately rejected the applicant.

If you indicate confidential information on your resume, your would-be employer must ask himself if you will later tell his secrets when you are looking for a better job.

4. Boring

Keep your resume professional, but get rid of the boring statements. “Answered phones and opened mail” will put any hiring manager to sleep. Instead, try “Demonstrated talent in handling high volume phone calls, answering potential client queries, and coordinating with all departments.”

5. Lies

It may be tempting to embellish in order to get your resume to the top of the pack, but don’t do it. People do check references and verify claims made on your resume. Not only can telling a lie get your resume tossed in the trash the first time, it can also come back to haunt you, later in your career. Maybe you dropped out of college, but claimed to have graduated. Now, the people at your former school know you are lying. The person to whom you applied for a job and people at your school may talk to others, and if you apply for a job from somebody who knows you lied, you likely won’t get hired.

In the end, if you craft an honest resume that tells a story about the recent and relevant parts of your life that make you a good fit for the job, your resume will likely stand out above all the others with typos, irrelevant information, and too many pages of boring statements.

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