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5 biggest resume mistakes

As a professional resume writer I have seen some shockers. From the 12 page CV in cursive script (complete with a cover page) to the beautifully designed one pager that told me nothing about the person - I've seen them all.

So what are the 5 biggest mistakes that I regularly see on resumes? Avoid the following!

1. Too long

Try to keep it simple. Don't list every single job that you have ever done. I generally avoid listing detail on roles that are older than 10 years. You can list older roles with just the job title, organisation and dates.

So how long is too long? I try to keep it under 4 pages, and that is with a 'summary' front page - so it's really closer to 3 pages. If you are early in your career or a graduate, you might be able to get it down to 2 pages.

If you are later in your career, you can decide to not list older roles. I would generally cut it off at 20 years.

2. Too many personal details

You don't need a personal details section, and you don't need to list your address or date of birth. And definitely leave off marital status! Having these on your resume may cause bias (unintentional or not).

All you need is your name, email address, mobile number and LinkedIn weblink. I put these in the header of page 1 of your resume.

3. No professional profile

A professional profile at the top of your resume is crucial to clearly explain who you are and what your key selling points are to a prospective employer or recruiter. This is different to a 'career objective'. Don't have this - the employer wants to know why you would be a good fit for the job, not where you want to be in 5 years!

4. No achievements

To sell yourself and showcase your skills you need to have some work-related achievements on your resume.

For each job try to include 2-3 achievements and pick the most impressive and relevant for an achievements section on your front 'summary' page.

5. Dated font or crazy design

Use a clean font that is modern, simple and easy to read, such as Arial and Calibri. I like to use Calibri light in very dark grey, size 11, with a complementary colour for headings.

Avoid using crazy colours, dated fonts and unnecessary underlining and italics. And you don't need to add a photo unless you are an actor. They can look at your LinkedIn profile for that.


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