Common Resume Mistakes

Posted on Sunday 15 February 2015


This article is part of our Finance Hub.

The greater your income is, the easier it is to build a successful budget. We have already covered how to secure a pay raise, but it's a different ballgame if you don't have a job at all. Or perhaps, you have a job but are looking to upgrade your income. After all, you will need a solid income to meet some of your financial goals, such as getting a car, buying a home, or settling your debt. Unless you’ve got windfall income, you’re going to need a job. So the first step to securing a job is to build a winning resume. This is especially necessary now that the job market has become increasingly competitive due to the Covid-19 induced inflation.

This article covers five common mistakes to avoid when writing your resume. There are also a few pointers on what to include instead.

Personal Information

Canada has some solid anti-discrimination laws, so employers aren’t allowed to inquire about your:

  • Age
  • Citizenship or immigration status
  • Religion
  • Disabilities
  • Marital or family status
  • Your debts
  • Political affiliations

This means you shouldn't include these details in your resume. Instead, you simply need to highlight your accomplishments and skills. This way, a potential employer can evaluate you based on your capabilities rather than any personal biases they may have.

Don’t Include A Photo

Avoid attaching a photo to your resume. You also aren’t obligated to include your year of graduation in the education section. Also, save funny and novel email addresses for your close friends and family. Instead, set up a professional-looking email address under your real name for job applications.

Avoid Adding Irrelevant Job Experiences

Say what you need to say, but focus on your relevant experiences and achievements. It’s a good rule of thumb to customize your resume for each company you apply to. For instance, if you’re applying for a job in the architecture sector, highlight your work in 3D modelling rather than your barista experience.

The only time hobbies belong on your resume is when they’re directly relevant to the job. For example, if you’re applying for a graphic design position, it is worth mentioning that you enjoy urban sketching. However, if you’re applying for a job as a software designer, your love for tap-dancing is best left out of your resume.

If you’re applying at entry-level, it is acceptable that you do not have much relevant experience. If you have career gaps or a concise working history, try to recall activities you participated in during those times related to the job you’re applying for. Remember to use your creativity.

Ditch The Self Praise

“I am an excellent worker.”

Every employer likes a good worker, but there's no way to determine if you are telling the truth. It’s easy to fall into the trap of filling your resume with vague statements about your capabilities.

What employers are more interested in seeing is concrete quantifiable numbers. So, whenever possible, put figures on your achievements. For example, did you increase customer retention by thirty percent? Were you responsible for 10 percent of your company’s sales? Did you complete a project $100,000 under budget? Include these. A few well-chosen figures can help you land the job.

Avoid Clichés

Are you a “go-getter” or a “team player?” Do you “proactively think outside the box?” Are you “dynamic,” “self-motivated,” and “results-driven?” If you are, please don’t say so.

In 2014, the Canadian jobs website CareerBuilder polled hiring managers on the terms they don’t like to see on a resume. Those seven terms above were among the top 15 worst phrases. So keep clichés off your resume.

Instead, use verbs. Verbs signify action and shoes that you are not just choosing words from a resume textbook. Words like “achieved,” “improved,” “trained,” “managed,” and “created” are all excellent options. Backing these verbs with numbers will help you make a good impression. For example, if you can say that you “managed a team of twelve people,” you'll impress a hiring manager twice in one sentence.

Stylistic Errors

First, there is no excuse for a resume full of typos in an age of automated spell-checking. Make sure that you proofread because unprofessional mistakes can land an otherwise good job application in the recycle bin.

Putting effort into the presentation can make your resume stand out. Keep your formatting simple. Type everything in black in a classic font like Arial. Save underlined, bold, and italic text for headings only. Don’t include any pictures.

If you’re submitting electronically, submitting in PDF is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, word documents are great places for viruses to hide, so some employers simply delete emails with attachments other than PDFs.

Final Thoughts

A good resume backed with a creative cover letter will significantly boost your prospects with any company. Once you’ve nailed that job, you can start saving and investing your hard-earned income. A genuine financial advisor can help you create a solid plan for the future. No matter what you decide, you are on the path to success.