Submitting your resume to a company or to a recruiter is like making a first impression. You wouldn’t attend a networking event wearing pajamas or give a limp handshake in an interview: your resume needs to be just polished and professional as you would be in person.
We see a lot of great resumes every day—but we also see some less-than-stellar examples that could use a little work. Here are three common mistakes that even professional resume writers make (and how to fix them):
1. Weak verbs
Most people know that you should start your bullet points with verbs to show action—what you actually accomplished in a position. Don’t make your accomplishments sound wishy-washy by leading in with “was responsible for,” “involved in,” or “tasked with.” Cut straight to the chase to make yourself sound more self-assured and confident.
|Involved in writing code for new application focused on improving worker efficiency.||Wrote code for new application focused on improving worker efficiency.||Improved worker efficiency by 50% through development of new application code.|
2. Spelling and capitalization errors
If you work with a technology enough to put it on your resume, always double check that you are spelling, capitalizing, and punctuating it correctly. When in doubt, search for the company or the technology to double check. For example, “SharePoint” has a capital “P” in the middle, “Node.js” has a capital “N” and the “js” is lowercase, and “Salesforce” is all one word with a capital “S.” Mixing up these subtle details is a surefire way to damage your credibility on a particular topic, so make sure you’re being as accurate as possible.
|Used SalesForce CRM to Track and Update new business Opportunities.||Used Salesforce CRM to track and update new business opportunities.||Signed three new clients by successfully tracking and updating new business opportunities in Salesforce.|
3. Inconsistent tenses
It seems like common sense, right? If you’re currently working on a project, or do something daily, your verbs should be in present tense. If it’s a previous position or a completed project, they should be in past. But this is still one of the biggest mistakes we see on resumes, and usually it comes from rushing through an update. For example: Your contract just ended and you’re updating your resume to prepare for the next one. You’ve been great at keeping it updated while you worked on that contract, and now that it’s over you open it back up to change your verb tenses, your professional summary, and anything else that’s changed. You run down the list of bullet points and add “-ed” to pretty much everything, save it, and send it off to the recruiter. Odds are you missed at least one, so make sure you read through each bullet point completely to make sure the entire sentence makes sense.
|Configured, install, and maintain hardware and prepare equipment for new projects.||Configured, installed, and maintained hardware and prepared equipment for new projects.|
To someone you haven’t met or spoken to yet, your resume is your first chance to make a good impression. Polish it up in a way that makes the reader want to meet the person behind it. Ask your family, friends, or even a recruiter to edit it for you until you’re confident it accurately expresses your experience, professionalism, and personality. That way, you can send it off knowing you put your best foot forward.