Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all template for resume writing, but there are a few steps you can take to make the process easier. These are three of the biggest – and most common – mistakes people make on their resume, and how to fix them.
Resume mistake #1: You use too many buzzwords
According to LinkedIn’s data, the top 10 most used resume buzzwords include “specialized, leadership, experienced, passionate, strategic, excellent, focused, creative, enthusiastic and successful.”
Darain Faraz, head of Brand Marketing and Communications at LinkedIn, says you should avoid these phrases. As a rule, he says to avoid any language that “generalizes” what you do, including industry jargon. Instead, focus on illustrating your skills and achievements to demonstrate how you embody those buzzwords, without blatantly stating it.
For example, instead of saying you are “passionate” about a topic, demonstrate that passion by including any volunteer or nonprofit work on your resume. Or, you could demonstrate your creativity by linking to a portfolio of your work, or by including side projects you work on in your own time.
It’s a good place to start if you aren’t sure how to improve your resume – take a look to see if you include any of these buzzwords. Then, try to find a way to illustrate those skills, rather than leaving it up to the recruiter to figure out what makes you “focused,” “strategic” or “experienced.”
Resume mistake #2: You haven’t established a brand
While your professional brand extends beyond your resume, it’s something you want to carry over to show what you can contribute to a company. But that requires more than just listing skills and experience on your resume or using technical jargon and industry terms. As demonstrated in this IT Resume Makeover, a “narrow and technically focused” resume that just lists skills and experience, will likely bore recruiters and hiring managers. Instead, you need to create your own professional identity.
With the ubiquity of social media, and its role in recruitment and hiring, it’s more important than ever to build your professional brand. Whether it’s through a personal website or your LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, you want to establish yourself as a valuable resource in your industry.
Faraz recommends uploading a portfolio to LinkedIn – whether it’s presentations you’ve worked on, accolades, awards or other projects, and then linking to that in your resume. You can also work on getting recommendations from others on LinkedIn, which will help build your credibility. These are all little steps that will help fortify and back up your resume once you catch the eye of a recruiter.
Resume mistake #3: You sell yourself short
Your resume is the best place to sell yourself as an employee, but most people are too modest when it comes to their own professional accomplishments.
For example, in this IT resume makeover, the candidate left experience off her resume because she didn’t think she qualified for executive positions due to a lack of college degree. However, it turned out she was well-qualified for executive roles, and her 20 years of experience were more than enough to impress a hiring manager.
Similarly, in another IT resume makeover from 2014, one candidate sold herself short by including the most generic details of her career, leaving out what made her unique as a candidate. Her original resume didn’t stand out, until she learned that a little bragging can go a long way.
The last place you want to hold back is on your resume – it’s your chance to show your confidence in your own skills and abilities. Whether you’ve build an impressive career without a formal degree, developed new skills on your own time or have taken a unique career path, you can always turn it into a positive.