In today’s pandemic world, Hiring Managers have a particularly tough job finding employees. Being a Hiring Manager myself, I know this only too well from personal experience.
In addition to my day-to-day responsibilities, I have to read resumes and conduct interviews for the many ongoing openings I have due to the current labor shortage. And I don’t dare slip up on this or I might miss the only truly qualified applicant.
Even so, I’m still fairly demanding as far as what I consider to be a good resume. This means that you still need to pay attention to those things that can send your resume into the round file. I’ve found that it’s still true that the best resumes usually indicate the best candidates and those are the ones I want to interview.
And yes, there is a genuine labor shortage today in the United States, which makes it a job-seekers market, especially for qualified applicants. It’s as true as ever that the best jobs usually go to the best applicants. Even with many jobs available you still want to be on the interview list for the best ones, so make sure you don’t commit any of these resume sins.
Exceed Two Pages in Length
No matter how much experience you have, your resume should not go over two pages in length. Seasoned executives with extensive experience still need to keep their resumes to two pages or less.
The way to do this is to confine your job history to the past 10 years at the most. Beyond that is irrelevant to most employers in today’s fast-changing world. You want to highlight your most recent and relevant accomplishments and experience.
Remember, the purpose of your resume is to get you the interview, so you want to highlight your most recent work and keep it brief so that every point you make is a powerful one.
And here’s the reality: many Hiring Managers won’t make it past the first page of your resume anyway and if they do they probably won’t care much about skills and experience more than 10 years ago. If you haven’t got their attention by the end of the first page, you probably won’t be put in the “to be interviewed” stack. Hiring Managers want to know what you’ve done most recently and have little patience for reading several pages to find that out.
In fact, unless you are extremely qualified with many years of truly relevant experience, your resume can likely be done in one page. This forces you to eliminate all fat and highlight your best skills and accomplishments. You will then have a powerful resume that will get you interviews.
Always remember: Hiring Managers are annoyed by resumes longer than two pages and these usually go to the bottom of the stack or in the shredder!
Use of Cute Tricks
By cute tricks, I mean the use of crazy fonts, logos, pictures, several colors of type, fancy borders, or cutesy email addresses (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). When I see anything like these items I immediately think “unprofessional”.
Truly outstanding candidates don’t use tricks to get their resumes noticed. They highlight experience and accomplishments specifically relevant to that job and use a clean, business-like, well-written format. That’s how you get your resume read.
That said, some creative positions – such as marketing, graphic illustrator, etc, may welcome and appreciate these sorts of things. However, it’s still your experience, qualifications, and accomplishments that will get you the interview and the job. Cutesy resume tricks will start you out with one strike against you for all other types of jobs.
Here’s the deal: use good quality, 20 or 24-pound weight white paper for your resume. Use only black ink and two typefaces maximum. Your resume will then look professional and be received by the Hiring Manager far better than rainbow ink and cute images.
No bullets and Little Use of White Space
I groan when I pick up a resume that contains one long paragraph after another with no white space to break it up and no bullets.
This tells me you didn’t take the time and effort to highlight and recap your skills and experience so that I can quickly get a feel for your qualifications. Instead, I have to plow my way through hard-to-read material in an attempt to determine if you match the qualifications for my job opening. These types of resumes seldom get completely read or considered for an interview.
You need to make it easy for the Hiring Manager to immediately see that your skills, experience, and qualifications are a good match for the job. If you make them have to dig for this information, chances are they won’t see it at all.
You should have a good amount of white space, use bullets liberally, and limit paragraphs to three sentences maximum. This will make your case much more effective and show that you respect the Hiring Manager’s time.
Bad Grammar and/or Spelling
Poor grammar and bad spelling are pretty much unforgivable in today’s world of smart work processors and free online proofreading tools. Unfortunately, I still see bad grammar or spelling errors in about four out of ten resumes.
I’ve even had applicants tell me when I point this out that it’s the content that matters, not the style and spelling. How wrong they are! Bad spelling and grammar tell me one of two things: you truly do have lousy writing skills, or you simply didn’t care to carefully write and proofread your resume. You look bad either way.
Not everyone is an excellent writer, so if you have any doubt at all about your abilities in this regard, have it proofread by someone you trust, in addition to running it through a spell checker.
You’d be surprised by how many Hiring Managers are absolute sticklers about grammar and spelling, even to the point of downplaying everything else. To them, it’s a sign of a careless person who will also be careless about the job.
The Date You Graduated From College
By all means, include the fact that you did graduate, the school you attended, and any honors you received. But leave your graduation date off.
If it’s too far in the past, you may be stereotyped as being too old. If it’s too recent, you may be stereotyped as being too young. Yes, questions about age can’t be asked in an interview, and age discrimination is illegal, but let’s face it: if you give a big clue about your age in your resume you run the risk of being typecast.
It’s better to sell your experience and accomplishments and take age out of the equation.
Too Much Personal Information
Other than the fact you graduated from college and what you majored in, all other personal information is irrelevant to your resume.
As a Hiring Manager, the things I want to know about include your business experience, your business skills, your business accomplishments as to relate to my job opening, and your job history.
Personal information about yourself does not belong on your resume and adds nothing to it, even if you’re the most interesting person in the world outside of work. Also, the more personal information you include, the higher the chance that you’ll include something that may offend the hiring Manager.
The best example of this danger is if you include your hobbies. If one of them is you’re an avid hunter and the Hiring Manager happens to be an animal rights activist, you just got three strikes all at once and are out. You’ve included a deal killer and will probably never even know it because there is zero chance you’ll get an interview.
Read even more resume mistakes here.