10 Common Mistakes in the Entry-Level Resume
Looking for a new job is a laborious and time-consuming process unless someone makes an attractive offer while you still have your current job. But it usually happens to specialists with vast experience in the domain and several successful projects under their belts.
Candidates who only begin their career path or decide to change it will most likely face a range of problems: ignored job applications, failed job interviews, employers’ excessive demands, etc.
One of the crucial steps is to compose a relevant and well-structured resume. It can be especially challenging if you’re a college graduate and have zero work experience. You can hire a professional resume writer who will come up with an excellent document or take a risk and try your hand at resume writing. Avoid these common mistakes, and your resume will have a chance to be noticed by hiring managers!
- Summary of a very general nature
An experienced hiring manager looks through approximately two hundred resumes every day. And they don’t have eight hours for that as they spend much time on the job interviews and other duties. Your resume has to impress the hiring manager in less than a minute!
A summary is the first section that catches the eye of a recruiter. If it doesn’t meet his or her expectations, your resume doesn’t stand a chance. Here is an example of what you SHOULDN’T write in the summary:
“I am a self-motivated and broad-minded person with an eagerness to learn. I can confidently refer myself to cooperative, perceptive, dependable, and meticulous people.”
That’s just a list of personal traits that says nothing about professional experience, skills, or achievements. Basically, the hiring manager sees the following: “I’m a good person, please, give me this job.” Will you get this job with such an approach? We wouldn’t bet any money on that.
- Uninformative list of skills
Skills are one more section that usually gets the recruiter's attention. It helps to quickly understand whether you are qualified for a job or not. The worst thing you could do is to make a list of all your skills and put it in two columns like this:
- Computer skills
- Microsoft Office skills
- Language skills
- Project scheduling
- Communication skills
- Stress tolerance
- Time management
- Interpersonal skills
These lists are useless! It seems like someone googled the most in-demand skills and copied all of them to his resume. The hiring manager gets absolutely no helpful information from it! We recommend picking 3-5 hard skills that are relevant to the role and that can be evaluated during the job interview or with the help of a test task such as knowledge of specific technologies, software, or processes.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
It doesn’t matter how many times resume guides include this point into the list of stupid resume mistakes. There will always be people who don’t care about proofreading and editing. Note this: more than 60% of hiring managers decline the resume if they spot spelling or grammar mistakes. Imagine how many chances you lose because of your laziness!
Nowadays, you don’t even have to check your text by yourself. Online services like Grammarly play the role of a typing assistant and help you with spelling, clarity, punctuation, and other writing mistakes.
A resume with typos is the easiest way to identify unattentive, irresponsible, or uninterested candidates. What kind of employer would hire a worker with such personal traits?
- No numbers
Our brain loves numbers much more than words. Numbers are simpler and easier to understand, process, and memorize. We think you remember your phone number or even a few numbers of your closest relatives and friends. Would it be that easy to remember a random jumble of letters? That’s exactly our point: numbers are better for perception.
When you compose your resume, try to focus on two questions: “How many?” and “How much?” As a result, you’ll get a list of your measurable and, thus, understandable achievements. We’ll share two examples:
BAD: I coordinated a team of sales managers, and we significantly increased the company’s income.
GOOD: I coordinated a team of seven sales managers, and we increased the company’s income by 24% within 10 months.
The second option sounds much more impressive, doesn’t it? Numbers rule!
- Too many unnecessary details
We’ll say it one more time: a recruiter has less than a minute to evaluate your resume! Some researchers suggest even a shorter period - up to 15-20 seconds. You really need this time to make a good first impression through your resume. That’s why you have to get rid of the habit to put as many words on one piece of paper as possible.
Firstly, an entry-level resume shouldn’t exceed one page. Secondly, use at least 11 font sizes, not smaller. It’s not likely that a hiring manager will have a microscope at hand. You won’t have extra space with this approach, but we still want to share a list of things that you shouldn’t put on your resume:
- a detailed list of all the schools where you studied;
- school rewards;
- irrelevant courses and certificates (nobody cares about your aromatherapy classes).
- Irrelevant work experience
This type of content can be qualified as “unnecessary details,” but many candidates find it hard to see the differences between relevant and irrelevant work experiences. That’s why we dedicate a whole new section to this topic.
The thing is almost every work experience can be transformed into relevant if you find the way to serve it right. For example, you can’t see anything similar between the jobs of a waitress and project manager at first sight. But dig deeper! Both waitresses and project managers need a good memory, stress resistance, a talent for multitasking, and empathy. And you should describe your experience from this perspective. Highlight the responsibilities and skills that can be helpful for a new role, and the hiring manager will see your potential.
- Same set of responsibilities for every workplace
Even if you’ve had the same role in several companies, don’t copy-paste your responsibilities. A hiring manager won’t be happy about reading the same text three times.
Every workplace is unique. Try to remember what challenges you’ve faced and what goals you’ve achieved. Maybe, all the companies have similar processes, but they may use different tools and methods, and now, you have practical experience with all of them. Take a look at the following examples:
- As an office manager, you’re responsible for document management. The duty is the same, but you’ve used two different tools - Excel and Google Sheets - in different companies. So you should mention both tools in the resume.
- As a project manager, you estimate and control project budget, schedule, and resources no matter where you work. But you can implement Scrum in one company and the Waterfall approach in another. Don’t forget to write about both methodologies in your resume.
- Colorful and complex templates for non-creative roles
You can find many articles about a job search that promote the idea of “standing out among other candidates” with the help of unusual resume formats and templates. PowerPoint presentations, interactive boards, diagrams, and even poems (!) - hiring managers have seen it all!
But does standing out really increase your chances to receive a job interview invitation? Let’s take a look at this situation from the perspective of the recruiter.
You have to look through dozens of resumes daily, and you have the whole process worked out. You take a quick look at the name and photo, then scan through the summary and skills, and complete your analysis with the work experience and education section. It’s that simple.
But there is always a candidate who decides to “stand out.” He sends a link to the interactive board instead of a standard black-and-white doc. You have to open the link and then waste your precious time clicking endless buttons and arrows. You get more and more irritated because an overall impression of the resume is ruined by moving from slide to slide, and you can’t see a general picture.
You’ll definitely catch the eye of the recruiter with your unusual resume. Will this move have a positive effect? We doubt it.
- One resume for all job offers
Rewriting your resume for every job offer is too much. But you should definitely tailor it according to the vacancy description. Different employers expect different things. Some are interested in more organized workers who have developed analytical thinking. Others are looking for open-minded and creative candidates. As a rule, the tone of voice of the vacancy text can give you a hint. Let’s take a look at examples!
“We are looking for a person that wants to develop a successful IT Project Manager career. If you are this kind of person — our expectations meet here perfectly. We will help you to dive into the modern technologies world and explain the technical subtleties of our development process.”
“In this role, you will be working on projects and providing management with necessary data for business development by means of timely reporting and data analysis and to support process administration by ensuring processes going seamlessly, transparently, and timely.”
These vacancies describe the same role - an Intern Project Manager. However, you can clearly see the difference. An employer #1 is looking for a person who can learn fast and has high career ambitions. An employer #1 will appreciate a candidate who is attentive to detail and not afraid of routine work. With some practice, you’ll learn to read between the lines and adjust your resume for each job offer.
We’ll never get tired of repeating this advice: “Don’t lie on your resume!!!” It won’t make any good. A hiring manager will have excessive expectations, and you won’t be able to meet them whether during your job interview or within the trial period. You’ll waste both your and your potential employer’s time. Remember: honesty is the best policy.
We hope this article will help you shorten your job search process and save the time of hiring managers who will read your resume. But avoiding mistakes won’t automatically turn your ideas into a well-structured and informative document. If you’re not 100% confident about your writing skills, hire a professional who will boost your resume and increase your chances to find a new job.
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