How many times have you applied for a job and never heard back?
You tell yourself, “They probably never saw it,” or, “Maybe I just wasn’t a good fit,” and you move on.
But, more likely, your resume just didn’t impress.
Hiring managers receive dozens — sometimes hundreds — of resumes for any given opening. They don’t have the time or resources to review each one closely, so they spend approximately six seconds on their initial “fit/no fit” decision.
You may be perfect for the job, but if your resume has just one typo, if it’s formatted poorly, or you use the wrong font, it could easily end up in the “no fit” pile.
“Think of the resume as a wedding invitation or other important announcement,” says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink. “You wouldn’t send out a wedding invitation with typos or false information, or one that includes too much information. So, why would you send out a resume with any of those things?”
Nicolai and other experts share tips for making sure your resume steers clear of the trash pile.
Get rid of the objective.
If you applied, it’s already obvious you want the job.
However, if you’re in a unique situation, like you’re changing industries completely, it may be useful to include a brief summary.
Cut out all the irrelevant work experiences.
Yes, you might’ve been the “king of making milkshakes” at the restaurant you worked for in high school. But, unless you’re planning on redeeming that title, it’s time to get rid of all that clutter.
Take a pass on the personal stuff.
Don’t include your marital status, religious preference, or social security number.
This might’ve been the standard in the past, but all of this information is now illegal for your employer to ask you, so there’s no need to include it.
Don’t list your hobbies.
If it’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for, then it’s a waste of space and a waste of the company’s time.
Don’t give away your age.
Don’t include references.
If your employers want to speak to your references, they’ll ask you. Also, it’s better if you have a chance to tell your references ahead of time that a future employer might be calling.
If you write, “references upon request” at the bottom of your resume, you’re merely wasting a valuable line, says career coach Eli Amdur.
Don’t use personal pronouns.
Your resume shouldn’t include the words “I,” “me,” “she,” or “my,” says Nicolai.
“Don’t write your resume in the third or first person. It’s understood that everything on your resume is about you and your experiences.”
Don’t include a less than professional email account.
Getty Images/Omar Havana
If you still use an old email address, like BeerLover123@or CuteChick4life@ , it’s time to pick a new one.
It only takes a minute or two, and it’s free.
Don’t identify your phone number
Amdur says there’s no reason to put the word “phone” in front of the actual number.
“It’s pretty silly. They know it’s your phone number.” The same rule applies to email.
Don’t include your current business contact info.
Amdur writes at Northjersey.com:
“This is not only dangerous, it’s stupid. Do you really want employers calling you at work? How are you going to handle that? Oh, and by the way, your current employer can monitor your emails and phone calls. So if you’re not in the mood to get fired, or potentially charged with theft of services (really), then leave the business info off.”
Don’t include salary information.
“Some people include past hourly rates for jobs they held in college,” says Nicolai. This information is completely unnecessary and may send the wrong message.
Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo, says you also shouldn’t address your desired salary in a resume. “This document is intended to showcase your professional experience and skills. Salary comes later in the interview process.”
Avoid outdated fonts.
Getty Images/Justin Sullivan
“Don’t use Times New Roman and serif fonts, as they’re outdated and old-fashioned,” Hoover says. “Use a standard, sans-serif font like Arial.”
Also, be aware of the font size, she says. Your goal should be to make it look nice and sleek — but also easy to read.
Don’t use annoying buzzwords.
CareerBuilder recently asked 2,201 U.S. hiring managers: “What resume terms are the biggest turnoffs?” They cited words and phrases such as, “best of breed,” “go-getter,” “think outside the box,” “synergy,” and “people pleaser.”
Terms employers do like to see on resumes include: “achieved,” “managed,” “resolved,” and “launched” — but only if they’re used in moderation.
Don’t include your GPA.
Once you’re out of school, your grades aren’t so relevant.
If you’re a new college graduate and your GPA was a 3.8 or higher — it’s okay to leave it. But, if you’re more than three years out of school, or if your GPA was lower than a 3.8, ditch it.
Don’t include a photo of yourself.
This may become the norm at some point in the future, but it’s just weird (and tacky and distracting) for the time being.