3 Common Resume Mistakes and How to Correct Them

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By Michael Worthington, ResumeDoctor.com

Often job seekers make huge mistakes in the way they present their skills and experience. Candidates find themselves waiting for a call for an interview but never end up getting one. Without ever realizing it, the resumes most candidates send out are instantly turning their readers off, losing their chance for the job.

Three very common problem areas that job seekers can easily fix to avoid turning that reader off are:

1. Dense Paragraphs vs. Bullet Points

A resume is a formal business document, not a "what I did last summer essay," so avoid first person usage. You have less than 10 seconds to grab your reader's attention to tell them what you do and what your expertise is. Your reader is not going to read any long dense paragraphs so make it easy on him or her. Instead of long dense paragraphs, use easy-to-follow bullet points.

Very Dense Paragraphs and First Person Usage:

At Jefferson Steel Corporation, I managed skilled and unskilled laborers and supervised 3 shifts daily. I synchronized engineering, machine shop, fabrication and assembly; I was responsible for improving production efficiency and quality control. I also scheduled production from raw materials to finished products. Furthermore, I developed programs to create brand awareness and oversaw all company-directed promotional activities within the sales/dealer network.

Easy to follow Bullets with formal Business Communication:

* Managed 60+ skilled and unskilled laborers and supervised three shifts daily
* Responsible for improving production efficiency and quality control which resulted in a savings of $150K over two years
* Scheduled production from raw materials to finished products
* Developed a program to create brand awareness and oversaw all company-directed promotional activities within the sales/dealer network, sales increased by $13M

Notice how much easier the latter section is for the reader to be able to scan through the resume. No longer will the reader be forced to read an essay about the job seeker's past experiences. Also, note how the first person references can be easily dropped and replaced with a "power" word that will grab the reader quicker. Your resume is not a journal or a letter to the hiring manager.

2. Too Duty-Oriented vs. Accomplishment-Oriented

Do not give your reader your job description but rather what you achieved from your duties.


* Monitor inventory levels
* Overseeing the dispensing and control of material
* Responsible for surveying orders
* Managed staff


* Lowered inventory levels by 20%
* Developed a more efficient organization of dispensing and control of material, lowering labor costs by over $100K per year.
* Surveyed orders and made sure all repairs are done on schedule which resulted in 98% of repairs completed on schedule
* Managed a warehouse and distribution staff of 20

A laundry list of duties will never tell your reader how well you did your job. Your duties are what were expected of you when you are hired but never tell your reader how well YOU actually did your job. Also, be specific in your performances. Stating specific numbers will help make it clearer to your reader what you have accomplished as opposed to another candidate with the same experience.

3. Unclear Education vs. Clear Education

The Education section is another area that is often presented in a very unclear way, especially with those candidates who have not fully completed a degree.

Unclear Education:

Springfield College Accounting

Clear Education:

50 Credits toward BS in Accounting,
Springfield College (Springfield, MA)

Let your reader know exactly how much education you have completed. Do not leave your reader wondering if you have received a degree, what type of degree or in what field. Be sure to include the city and state of the institution as well. You should also include any relevant training you may have had as well.

If any of these problem areas look familiar, it might be a good idea to revise your resume. Do not leave your readers with confusion, but rather spell it out for them. The more specific you are, the easier it is for your resume to be understood, and more importantly, acknowledged.

Contact Mike@ResumeDoctor.com. ResumeDoctor.com provides resume-consulting services and FREE resume evaluations for job seekers in all industries. ResumeDoctor.com also offers specialized job market expertise and content to media and employers.

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