Avoid the Top 6 Resume Mistakes Students Make

As the job market gets more competitive, students need to do everything they can to rise to the top. It all starts with the resume. Avoid these common mistakes so your resume can reach its full potential.

1.Attempting One Size Fits All

Every job is different. So shouldn’t your resume reflect those changes? It’s easy to send out the same resume to every employer, but that usually won’t get you the job. Think about what specific skills an employer would consider most valuable for each job. Then, bring those skills to light in the work experience and training you list on your resume. Sometimes using a different verb or keyword to describe your previous jobs can make all the difference.

Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization

2.Leaving Out a High School Job

Bagging groceries in high school may not seem relevant to your next career move, but leaving a high school job off of your resume usually isn’t a good idea when you’re a student. We learn all sorts of valuable lessons from our first jobs: hard work, responsibility, or the value of a dollar. Potential employers like to see when you started working and how long you can hold a job. You can frame your high school job in your favor with a little bit of help.

3. Lacking Proper Format

As employers scan through hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for each job, yours needs to look as professional as possible. Improper or inconsistent formatting can quickly send your resume to the bottom of the stack. Make sure that all of your sections (education, work experience, skills) are aligned with each other, put headings in bold, and list dates in the same place every time. Use bullet points to make your resume template more organized and easier to read. If something doesn’t match up, employers will notice instantly.

4.Listing References

Listing your references on your resume will be seen as irrelevant. If an employer thinks that you’re a qualified fit, they’ll ask for your references at a later point in the application process. Getting rid of your references also gives you more room to list other applicable skills and job-related experience.

5.Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments

It’s easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your resume. For examples

  • Attended group meetings and recorded minutes.
  • Worked with children in a day-care setting.
  • Updated departmental files.

Employers, however, don’t care so much about what you’ve done as what you’ve accomplished in your various activities. They’re looking for statements more like these: 

  • Used laptop computer to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference.
  • Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance.
  • Reorganized 10 years worth of files, making them easily accessible to department members.

6.Incorrect Contact Information

I once worked with a recent grad whose resume seemed incredibly strong, but she wasn’t getting any bites from employers. So one day, I jokingly asked her if the e-mail she’d listed on her resume was correct. It wasn’t. It was her college e-mail address which she no longer had access to. Once she changed it, she started getting requests for interviews. Moral of the story: Double-check even the most minute, taken-for-granted details – sooner rather than later.

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