Recently at OfficeChai we had an opening for a content writer, and as usual we were bombarded with applications. While a lot of them were solid, and we even hired some people off those, we did get our shares of resumes that made us cringe.
Being a website that aims to help your career, we know that making a great resume is the first step in that direction. While in certain cases, a few grammatical and lingual transgressions can be forgiven, for a content writing position, being grammatically sound is crucial.
So, using these resumes we have received as reference, here are a few common mistakes that even the best in the industry make, but realize only too late.
1. Too many personal details.
While a date of birth helps us determine your age which could be relevant in some cases, knowing your father’s and mother’s names is a bit redundant. Also, unless you’re applying to a multinational company at a global level, it’s not necessary to mention your nationality. The name kind of does give it away. Ditto for gender. Try to keep your resume short, but pertinent to the needs of the job.
2. Uninteresting interests
Let’s face it. While we appreciate that you’re fascinated by MS Office, we’re not sure if listing that as an interest makes us want to hire you. It’s great that you like coordinating with the various departments within your company, and the rest of those points too, but that’s more likely to be a basic requirement of the role.
3. Use of acronyms specific to you
This was a one page resume, 70% of which was taken up by personal details, and contained a rather inelegantly designed education list. Unless the recruiter is from Maharashtra, they are not automatically going to know what SSC, HSC or TYB mean.
4. Very little space given to skills and experience
Let’s be honest. We are interested in hiring you based on what you can bring to the table, a lot of which depends on what you’ve done in the past. If only 30% of your resume talks about that, and the rest of the resume is generic adjectives about yourself, we have aready lost interest.
5. Confusing cover letter with a resume
While the text in the above resume reads well, this long form textual description is better used in the cover letter. A resume is best used to highlight the basics in short and succinct points that help the recruiter get the gist at a glance. It’s unlikely that a recuiter would spend the kind of time and interest needed to read a descriptive resume.
6. Career Objective is not a poem
It’s great that this candidate wanted to demonstrate his writing chops in the first line of the resume, however it quite didn’t cut it. We are not big fans of “career objectives” on a resume, even lesser of verbose and vague ones.
7. Irrelevant and vague project details
Unless we were your colleagues or managers, the technical details of your projects are Greek and Latin to us. So, please break those projects down in a language we understand, and talk about their application in the job you’re applying for. In fact, you can totally skip them altogether if they’re completely irrelevant to the job, which in this case they were.
8. Child prodigies
It’s great that you’ve done some meaningful and creative work back in school, but unless we are going for a child parenting course, it’s of very little use in the professional realm. You probably are a different person with very different skills now than from when you were a child. As a general rule of thumb, anything done earlier than 10 years of your career, is probably useless to a prospective employer.
9. Misuse of the word “Skills”
Java, Python, SQL, C++ – these are IT skills. Programming languages more like, but still being good at these languages means you’re sufficiently skilled in IT.
Microsoft Office and working knowledge of Windows is perhaps not as much IT skills as a basic technical requirement of the job.
10. Bad fonts and formatting
Unless you’re quoting or paraphrasing someone, please don’t use italics.
We get you’re excited about your special achievements, but let them highlight themselves. Toggling small and large caps at will is not only an eyesore, it’s suicidal in an application for an editorial post.
Oh yeah! We saved the most egregious one for last. While we get that a lot of fields do not require you to have a mastery over the language, but if you’re applying for a role 90% of which is being able to write well and error-free, we do expect you to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Even otherwise, it’s always good to proofread your resume as many times as it takes to spot that last wrongly placed comma, misspelled word, or that word which could be replaced with a more suitable one. Here‘s a handy list of some of the most common but wrong terms used by people, especially in the Indian subcontinent. And here’s a great infographic on how to make a great resume!
If you’re as uncomfortable with the above gaffes as we are, give us a shoutout at [email protected]. We’re still hiring great people, who probably won’t make it to lists like these!