Writing a resume is time-consuming and, let’s face it, a bit of a chore, even for those who can string a few good words together on occasion. It’s never easy talking about yourself, or recounting all your life’s work (literally) in about a page. So, once you’re done writing, before you print out your CV or email it off to HR, take a minute to proofread it closely — very closely — for these common resume mistakes. It could just mean you save your application from hitting the trash, instead of the “to interview” pile.
1. Don’t Get Tense
The general rule of thumb is to use past tense for your previous employment and present tense to describe your duties at your current job. Alison Green, a.k.a. Ask a Manager, agrees, but notes you should watch out for duties that you used to perform at your current job, but don’t do any longer. You can describe those in past tense, too.
2. Be a Consistent Date
Make sure that you’re using the same conventions throughout your resume when it comes to date formats. If you use MM/DD/YYYY in one place and Month DD, YYYY in another, you’ll look sloppy. If you’re saying you’re detail-oriented, but you’re missing details like this, that won’t speak well to potential employers.
3. Watch Out for Possessiveness
As a pretty well-schooled English major, I take a lot of umbrage when I see a misplaced apostrophe out in the everyday world. Let’s all get it clear: When something belongs to something, use the apostrophe – like “the duck’s loud quack” – but when you’re describing a large amount of something, you don’t need that apostrophe – as in “a flock of ducks.” (The exception: our old friend its/it’s.)
4. Don’t Rely on Spellcheck
Confession: I’m a terrible speller. I consistently buzzed out of school spelling bees on the initial word. But even I know that word-processing software and its little squiggle lines can only do so much. A great way to catch these is to have a friend proofread your resume for you. They won’t autocorrect the wrong word like your brain might when you look over the resume. Watch out for these common spelling mistakes that you might have typed by accident. That squiggle won’t necessarily give them away:
- from – form
- their – there
- personal – personnel
- role – roll
- qualify – quality
- lead – led
5. Don’t Capitalize the Little Guys
Job titles can be tricky, especially when it comes to whether or not to capitalize them or not. In fact, you have to do a little thinking first before you make your decision. Are you talking about a “job title” or a “job description”? If it’s a job title, like “Vice President of Operations,” then it is indeed capitalized. If you’re describing duties done for the job, such as “I managed a staff of twenty-five writers,” then you don’t capitalize the title (in this case, “manager”).
With these tips, you should be able to write (or quickly revise) your resume, and make it sing “HIRE ME!” in no time!
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