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Top 10 common mistakes to avoid while writing a resume

Updated: May 30, 2022

You write the first draft of your resume and tweak it and weigh it and consider it and make it interesting. You make it as good a resume as there has ever been or will be.

You post it on your favorite job portal and top it up with a well-written profile and your best-ever picture.

Then you wait. Wait a little more. Even more and yet no interview calls.

Ever wondered why that happens?

It is fairly well known that the average amount of time a recruiter spends on a resume is about 6 seconds and not many resumes are interesting enough to make the cut.

“But mine was worth every single bit of their attention” we hear you say. You see, there’s only going to be so many winners and no matter how good the rest of them are, they’ll have to ‘Try harder next time’. Take an example of an Olympic sport, where 20 athletes are competing but only 3 will win medals and what’s worse - only 1 will win the gold (If you ask me, they all are winners as they are the best of the best from the entire human population. Isn’t that something?).

So the million dollar question, then, is How to write the perfect resume?

We have good news. cvguys (That’s us) has done all the hard work (where’s that energy drink when you need it?).

We've compiled the ‘Top 10 common mistakes you must avoid while writing a resume’

To that end, let’s start:

1) Typos

Let’s face it, we all make typos. In the age of acronyms and ‘auto-correct’ features, we’ve been moving further and further away from the correct understanding and use of grammar. The auto-correct then has its own set of limitations. The best thing to do to avoid typos is to start with the widely available ‘Spelling & Grammar’ checkers.

2) Grammar and punctuation errors

Some of the most common grammatical errors people make are: subject-verb agreement; sentence fragments; use of commas, apostrophes; vague pronoun reference and so on. Similarly, some of the most common punctuation errors people make are: unnecessary quotation marks; extraneous apostrophes; missing commas; excessive use of exclamation marks; semi-colons vs. colons, etc.

3) Too little information

If the resume leaves a lot to be desired, the recruiter will simply move on the next one (6 seconds, remember?). Just ensure all the vital information is captured along with some good to have information. So, while it may not be necessary for you to mention your love for technology or travel for the purpose of this role, it will give the recruiter or your prospective boss a fair idea into the things that drive you.

4) Too much information

That being said, a common mistake while trying to cover the finer detail of the years and years of work experience, is to end up making the CV unnecessarily long. For most recruiters, it is an ordeal to filter the relevant information from the body of the CV, especially when it lacks a clear consistent tone.

5) Lack of consistent tone and narrative

The narrative of your resume, if it is not consistent and positive, can easily sabotage the good work you’ve done to create a good-looking resume. The tone on the other hand, if it’s boring or wordy or egotistical, can land you among the ones who never hear back from the recruiters.

6) Lack of action verbs and domain-related keywords

It’s pretty self-explanatory. Try to choose action verbs that are as sharp as a razor. Here are some good examples of action verbs: managed; delivered; established; maximized; minimized and so on. Then, use your domain-specific keywords. Some examples of domain-related keywords for a finance-related CV would include: EBITDA, OPEX, CAPEX, P&L, Expense, Regulatory compliance, etc. (Newsflash! Choose acronyms wisely depending on your profile and don’t go overboard)

7) Missing out crucial information

Forgetting to mention: the role applied for; contact information; location (applied for and your own location); tenure with a previous employer are some examples.

8) Emphasizing responsibilities instead of achievements and accomplishments

I suppose there’s always a trade-off when you want to highlight the responsibilities you’ve handled in your past assignments and yet avoid too much information (This isn’t a deal-breaker when you are just starting off your career). The best thing to do is to focus more on what you accomplished or achieved in those assignments.

9) Lack of aesthetic appeal

Nobody likes an odd-looking resume that has all the required info, correct grammar, consistent tone but fails miserably on the aesthetics. The alignment of text and graphs (in a visual CV), the placement of headers & the body, the fonts, bold or italicized text, etc. should all come together to make your resume stand out. Try to avoid clichés and be creative with these elements but have clear lines in your head you’ll never cross while trying to be creative.

10) Not taking any opinion

No matter how good a resume you’ve made, don’t rely solely on your personal judgment. You’ve got to have somebody you can show it to and seek their opinion on it. This will help eliminate some of the mistakes, we’ve mentioned above, automatically as your friend will give your resume another perspective you so need.

Now you know it.

Keep clear of those common mistakes and that interview call you so deserve, is as certain as death and taxes.

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