When we get anxious about looking for a new job, we tend to overlook obvious details in our resumes. Example: A man who'd been working overseas had a great resume, but forgot to update his contact information when he returned to the States. That meant every potential employer got an overseas mailing address and phone number. Guess how many of them called him for an interview. Yeah, can you say "woops"?
You might think you'd never make such an obvious mistake, but it happens all the time, especially if you haven't even glanced at your resume in several years. Here are the top 10 careless mistakes to avoid when you update your own resume:
- Inactive email address. Make sure it's the one you use today, not the one you disabled five years ago.
- Old phone numbers, or no number at all!
- Old mailing address. Even if you just moved, sending a resume with your old mailing address is inexcusable. This is especially critical if you've made a long distance move. Let's say you moved from South Carolina to Utah but didn't update your resume. Employers in Utah could easily dismiss your resume, assuming you live on the other side of the country and might expect relocation reimbursements.
- Missing experience. The resume that got you a job five years ago is not going to impress today's employers if you forget to add the experience and accomplishments from your most recent job!
- Confusing abbreviations and acronyms. Every company has its own internal lingo and acronyms, but that's exactly what they are--internal. Maybe your old boss knew what "NIOSH 582 Method 7400," "AOR," or "IBS-CMM" stood for, but the person reading your resume might have no idea. Explain and spell out anything questionable.
- Nondescript company names. Wow, you did some great work for SmallCo., but who are they and what do they do? Unless your employer was a household name like Dell, Amazon.com, Apple, or IBM, always include a very brief description of what type and size of business it was.
- Outdated and irrelevant jobs. Don't just add new experience to your resume, subtract old positions, too! That daycare job in high school might have helped get you into an entry-level retail position, but now that you have a few years of relevant experience behind you, take out the stuff that no longer matters. (While you're at it, take out anything that goes beyond the last 10-15 years.)
- References included. One word: NO! Do not include references on your resume, and don't even say "References available upon request." That's sooooo 2000.
- Bad filename. What you name your resume is more important than you think. Nondescript or out-of date names like "MyResume2004," or names that include typos or another company's name will all put a bad taste in the employer's mouth, and may get your attachment lost in the shuffle. (Get more on this topic in the links below.)
- Unnecessary education info. When you were looking for your first post-college job, it may have been a good idea to state your class ranking, GPA, leadership roles you held on campus, and academic honors you received. But if it's been at least five years since you graduated, you should list nothing more than the name of your school; the degree, diploma, or certification you received; and the year of completion.
Sometimes it's the most obvious issues that are hardest to see. Avoiding these 10 mistakes won't guarantee you'll have a perfect resume, but they will guarantee you don't get posted on the employer's bulletin board as a bad example.
For more resume dos and don’ts, check out these posts:
Top 10 Things to NOT Put in a Resume
The Resume Mistake Even Savvy Job Seekers Make
Check Your Resume Before You Send It