I’ve seen dozens of resumes in my career and while the rules in writing one aren’t cast in stone, any hiring manager like me will spot a couple or two that won’t advance for an interview opportunity. I myself have been rejected many times because of one thing I didn’t include, or included excessively.
To read part 1 of the article, click here.
3. Displaying job descriptions, not accomplishments
My biggest pet peeve about resumes is seeing job descriptions as if I’m reading a job advertisement. “If you can cut and paste someone’s job description into another person’s resume, then it means everything he told about himself was generic. There was nothing special about himself”, shares Isabelle Lee, an HR specialist from GlaxoSmithKline Philippines.
Recruiters will always want proof of your expertise the moment they start scanning your resume. I’m obsessed looking for numbers, statistics, percentages and growth rates which show how much a candidate has done for the company. For example, don’t just say you “successfully launched a major project”. Be as granular as “launched a new flavour for a beverage product that led to 35% increase in company’s sales vs. last year”. Here’s another example: consider A and B below as statements that come from two applicants.
A. Managed a team to launch a new restaurant concept
B. Supervised a team of 5 food & beverage experts and launched a 50-seaterFrench-themed restaurant in a span of 3 months with a budget of PHP 5.8M
Between the two applicants, the one which used “B” concretely illustrated the scope and size of the project, and gives the recruiter a better idea of his experience and skills. He will likely have the upper hand to be called for an interview. Arguably, this is one of the most crucial elements in a resume that makes one stand out from another.
4. Leaving typographical errors unchecked
You must be rolling your eyes to read such a basic tip, but this mistake has always been painfully taken for granted. Research shows that typos are found in more than half the cases of resumes worldwide—wrong spellings, lost punctuation marks, and simple subject-verb agreement errors that make recruiters cringe the moment they read them.
Committing typos is the easiest way to earn bad reputation. It sends a message that you lack aptitude for details (which is needed in industries like banks, restaurants, or IT). It labels you as someone who’s not taking this job application seriously—so why should we even consider you for an interview? Most of us become blind to errors when we see the same thing too many times. Rest your eyes and brain for a few hours after writing your resume, and then proofread it again. Get a third party’s perspective: ask a friend or a mentor to proofread it for you. There are also many helpful tools that you can use online. My personal favorite is Grammarly, an online app that checks and corrects your use of English.
5. Lying about your career and achievements
It’s sad to know that many of our local politicians can get away with faking their degrees and diplomas for decades, but not everyone can be as lucky as they are. Being 3 credits away from earning an engineering degree is not the same as earning that degree, and taking a 2-week MBA course in Harvard doesn’t make you a “Harvard graduate”. The same goes for job titles. Just because you’re expecting a promotion 6 months from now (e.g. from “associate” to “manager”) doesn’t mean you can claim it. The last thing you want is to be caught upgrading your position without the company’s blessing.
Misinterpreting, exaggerating, and “rounding up” your achievements are never ever worth the temporary benefit you’ll get from it. The world is now smaller thanks to technology. Sooner or later, someone will point out your lies which can cost you your job (besides, do you really think HR will just hire you without any background checks?). Remember that no superb career record can compensate for the lack or absence of integrity once proven. And here’s the bonus part—you get to sleep better at night too.
At the end of the day
Resume writing may be intimidating and as overwhelming as the classic “I don’t know where to start” feeling. But just like any art, or science, the best way to move forward is to look at previous works of people, learn from what worked and what failed, and steal the best practices that you can integrate into your own style. Do your homework too: study your friends’ resumes, check out samples online, and seek advice from your network of friends who are managers with hiring experience.
As a final note, your resume can merit extra points when you send it with the right etiquette and approach, especially over e-mail. HR recruiters receive dozens of e-mails every day and your goal is to stand out to be opened. State the position you’re applying for concisely in the subject line (e.g. Product Manager for Brand X - Application”), bearing in mind that most subject lines accommodate only 6-8 inches of space in your e-mail’s interface.
Sending blank e-mails is just rude and repelling for any reader. Ensure that you write at least your intent of applying (e.g. “I am writing to apply for the position X) coupled with a summary of your career in one sentence. The formality and completeness will always be appreciated.
May the force be with you when writing, and happy job hunting!