5 common mistakes when writing a resume

So you have decided to start applying for jobs after being out of the market for some time, maybe you had children and stopped working, maybe you have been working with the same company for years and have decided you need a change.  Whatever the reason you need to write a resume and you just don't know where to start.

One thing that people start doing is talking to their friends about what to do and suddenly they get all these "great tips". Unfortunately their tips might not be based on professional knowledge but personal experience.  Therefore, we have put together some common mistakes that should be avoided.

Crazy fonts or layout
In general an employer wants to be able to read your resume with ease, look at your previous experience and length of employment. If you format your resume in such a way that makes it difficult for the recruiter to see which job matches which experience or the flow of it is difficult to follow then an employer may not continue reading and just move on to the next resume.

The same goes with big bold headings or multiple colour headings, mismatched font size, oddly shaped paper or background images, if anything is of putting then the employer may just stop reading.  

Best practise is to use standard A4 paper, one font size for content and one font size for headings, black font and make sure the flow of your resume reads from most recent job to past jobs.  

A photo or if you have worked in childcare a photo of someone else’s children
Including photos into your resume might be common practise in your home country but in Australia it is best to leave them off your resume. Photos may leave a bad impression or give the wrong impression, they may also distract from your qualifications or experience. So unless you are applying for acting or modelling position its best to leave them off your resume.

Irrelevant information
Ensure that the information you provide is related to the position you apply for.

Things like marital status, height, weight, religious beliefs, number of children and sexual orientation should never be included on a resume. In order to shorten your resume you can also exclude job experiences that are irrelevant to the position in question such as ‘Nanny’.

The basic details of your name, contact number and email address are all that are required.

Incomplete information
There is nothing more frustrating to an employer than resumes that have incomplete information. For example, you list the job title but not the duties performed or you list the year that you were employed but not the entire duration. Some employers will just disregard your resume if it doesn't have enough information. And even though you might be the best candidate for the job your resume writing skills have let you down.

Always include the following information:

Ensure you list the total duration of the job, the company name, your job title and the duties you performed.

Be careful not to put any misleading information like increase the length of employment or duties that you didn’t actually perform, any employer doing reference checks will ask your referee the duration of your employment and your job responsibilities, anything that doesn’t match up won’t look good for you.

Outdated information
Make sure all the information you have listed is relevant and not outdated, don't list any jobs that go back 10 years or more unless of course you have worked in the same company for this time.  

Once again an employer will lose interest especially if the jobs listed are not relevant to the one that you are applying for. This is the same with your high school or university subjects, of course list the qualification but there is no need to list subject after subject, no one cares if you got an A in history.

Finally ensure you have someone proof read your resume, maybe ask someone that runs their own business or has experience in reading or writing resume. If you don’t have this as an option, write your resume and then leave it for a week or so. When you go back to it you will have a fresh pair of eye on it and you may finish that you can make adjustments that you didn’t see before.

Happy resume writing.

Christine Schryver, Recruiter