Resume Faux Pas That Can Ruin Your Chances For Your Next Job

Resume Faux Pas That Can Ruin Your Chances For Your Next Job

by Elyce Murillo

Here at Alaant, resumes are our thing! Our recruiting teams collectively format more resumes a day than we can count. By format, what I really mean is we merely put the resume on our letterhead and clean up the bullets, but after it’s done–it looks like a new resume all together! Candidates frequently call and ask what they can do to improve their resume. Since it’s very difficult to help over the phone, I’ve compiled a few tips that might help even the most disastrous writers discover their hidden resume writing talents.

When in doubt-KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID! 

This is my best advice to you. Keep it simple!  Your resume is not a good time to let your creative flag fly.  We aren’t in art class–there is no need for your resume to be 11 different colors, 6 different fonts, and decorated with lines and clip art.  You’re looking for a job in the professional world–don’t forget.  Keep it simple! It’s important to get straight to the point of what your reader would want to see.  As a refresher, when listing your work history our eyes are trained to look for:

Position-Company, Location;----------Dates (Start-End)


Bullet (Task #1)

Bullet (Task #2)

Bullet (Task #3)

Ahhh, the magic of simplicity!

Consistency & Coherence

Consistency is another issue we see regularly.  If you have a position formatted one way, why change the format for your second position?  Keep the style the same throughout… same bullets, same format, same margins, etc.. Otherwise, you might end up with a circus-act of a resume that is so overwhelming the reader will have a hard time even looking at it.  Yikes! 

The Power of VERBS

When listing your experiences and responsibilities, what sounds more intriguing?

A) Responsible for going to the store and completing the purchase of products.
B) Executed product purchases at the store.

Although example B is shorter, it actually sounds better and is more interesting.  It gets straight to the point, right?  That’s because example B uses an active verb.  People tend to forget the power of active verbs, and, unfortunately, verbs in general.  If you were responsible for something, find a strong active verb to express it.  Try to make it a priority to begin every bullet with an active verb for example:  Utilized A, B, and C to do D. or Completed X major project. Etc....  Please oh, please none of this “Responsible for…..blah blah blah”… (yawn)… Spice it UP!

It Needs to Make Perfect TENSE

If you’re presently in a position; it should be” present” tense.  If your position was in the past, it should be in “past” tense.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Tenses are probably one of the biggest issues we are faced with, mostly because it is very time consuming to fix every one.  We also see a lot of "ing’s", which generally turns a bullet from short and simple to long and passive–no good.  For those of you who slept through English class, keep the following in mind-  

Past Positions: Bullets points should end with an ED because the position is over; the job is in your past. Ex: executed, supported or managed….

Current Position: Bullets points are happening NOW, in the present. Ex: facilitate, assist or utilize. 

Watch Your Spelling!

I just don’t know how else to say it. We all have spell check.  We all know those squiggly red lines under misspelled words.  To our clients, spelling errors are the ultimate deal-breaker–even if you are the ideal candidate for the job.  It takes minimal effort to proofread, people, and I highly recommend it!

In the end, your goal is to present yourself in the best light possible and the best way to do that is to let your resume speak for itself.  Chances are, your experience makes you qualified for the role you’re interested in, but your reader might get so overwhelmed by inconsistent formatting, tons of -ing and passive verbs, “responsible for’s,” colorful font, lines, and glaring spelling errors, that they bypass your resume altogether — straight to the virtual “no” pile.  If it takes us more than 5 minutes to slap on Alaant letterhead and get it out to our client, that’s probably a bad sign. 

Don’t let a simple grammar faux pas get in the way of your dream job!  alaant workforce solutions

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