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Six Resume Mistakes that Could Cost You an Interview

Published on: January 20, 2016

Despite best intentions and a strong effort to keep an open mind, managers can draw drastic conclusions about your abilities, your workplace behavior and your skills when they come across a glaring resume mistake. Don't let your resume slip through the cracks because of simple mistakes that you could have easily avoided. Be on the lookout for these easily correctable, common slip-ups:

1. Redundancies

Don't say the same thing twice in a row…or multiple times throughout your document. Once you've stated a credential or skill, save the rest of the space on the page for additional skills or new information. You only have a certain amount of resume real estate, so take advantage of every inch of it to emphasize your diverse know-how and experience. And remember: nothing makes a reader's eyes glaze over faster than an apparent fixation with one aspect of your profile. ("Okay, okay, you know HTML. We get it.")

2. Excessive modifiers

Adding modifiers like 'successful' to your claims can dilute your message. For example: "Completed a successful reorganization of the company invoicing structure." Adding additional modifiers and adverbs to those modifiers can make things even worse: "Efficiently completed a highly successful reorganization of the company invoicing structure." Instead, remove these dead-weight words. Better yet, remove every modifier and rather add a quantifiable element to your claim. For example: "Reorganized the company invoicing structure, resulting in the recovery of over $30,000."

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3. Standard or expected claims

Calling yourself a 'team player' or a 'detail-oriented pro' won't help you race past the competition. Every person who applies for this job will be able to make the same statement, so this kind of sentence will only obscure the details that really do make you special. Know the difference between a credential that applies to everyone in the world and a credential that separates you from the pack. Avoid the obvious qualification and you'll draw more attention to your unique traits.

4. Jargon that's not industry-specific

Leverage the kinds of insider terms and acronyms that set you apart as an experienced hand. Referencing software platforms, government agencies, well-known industry products and events, oversight groups, and familiar acronyms can help set you apart as a seasoned expert. On the other hand, non-specific jargon can frame you as a smoke-thrower. Avoid terms you picked up from generic corporate seminars or pitches for non-industry-specific products and services. (For example: Synergy, Cross-Marketing, Strategize, Optimal, and Solution-Provider.)

5. A lack of research

Spend time truly getting to the bottom of what the targeted employers are specifically looking for. Read job descriptions carefully and visit the company website to find out a) what your employers need in terms of skills and experience, b) the credentials they seem to be having trouble finding, and c) the qualifications that might be advantageous but aren't deal-breakers. Align your resume with the information you find.

6. No customization

Let's face facts: employers don't have time to carefully read hundreds of resumes, and you don't have time to create a completely different resume for each job you pursue. It's okay to use a template that varies only slightly from each job to the next, but don't just send the exact same resume every time. Take some time to adjust your summary, skills and work history sections to fit each job you apply for; this avoids making your application look like a spammy carpet-bombing campaign.

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