Creating a good resume is an important part of the job application process. And if you are fortunate enough to have your resume reviewed by a hiring manager in detail (they sometimes have stacks of thousands), it better stand out in a crowd. But writing a good resume is not as easy as it may sound. There are some traps you will most certainly want to avoid. We have spoken to numerous hiring managers in order to get some of their resume tips, as well as the red flags that stand out to them during the review process. Here are some of those red flags:
When thinking about how to make a resume, you should be thinking about making it as concise and relevant as possible. Most people would advise you to try to fit it all on one page, if possible. However, some applicants may have many years of relevant work experience that they want to highlight. What you do not want to do is tell your whole life story. You may be very proud of the fact that you were class president at your elementary school, but that won't turn any heads during the hiring process. Keep it current and keep it relevant.
Resume writing is a labor of fact, not fiction. While it can be tempting to overstate your experiences and your impact on specific projects, that is a terrible idea. You will be interviewed by professionals who have worked in the field a long time. In all likelihood, they will be able to smell an exaggeration from a mile away. And while this may seem like harmless embellishment from your perspective, it may come awfully close to lying in the eyes of a hiring manager, which is one of the worst things you can do in an interview.
You want to produce a good resume, not a fake one. So, if you spent the summer answering phones at an investment bank and are considering putting on your resume that you managed over a hundred million dollars in client assets, please reconsider.
Very few people travel down a perfect yellow brick road career path. There are bound to be some detours along the way. In resume writing, those detours could come in the form of employment gaps and frequent job or industry changes. These could be a red flag for hiring managers and leave them wondering if you really know what you want to do with your life. If this is the case with your resume, expect to get some questions about it. Not to worry, it may not be an absolute deal breaker, as long as you have thoughtful explanations for your checkered path.
Work ethic is a key to success and a valuable trait that employers look for in candidates. When considering how to make a resume, you should be sure to include any extracurricular activities that you have participated in. If you do not have any, go get some! A good resume needs to have them. Extracurriculars demonstrate participation, time management skills and passion. Employers want to see that when you had the option to either sit on the couch and watch TV or participate in something constructive with other people, you chose the latter.
Internships are always good resume boosters because they show direct work experience. After all, they are hiring you to work at a job, so they want to see that you have done that before (usually during or after college). If you can absorb an unpaid internship, even better. In that case you could make some additional arguments for a high level of dedication and passion. Working for the experience alone is a "boss" move! Either way, a good resume will typically include an internship or some other work experience. Not having either could be a red flag.
Sometimes an employer will tell you exactly what they want from you. For instance, they may specifically ask you to provide a cover letter along with your resume. Usually they do this...wait for it...because they want it! Interesting concept, huh? Look, I am not going to tell you what to do. But in a world of not always knowing what an employer is looking for, I will say that it might be a good idea to act on what you do know. Furthermore, the resume that you worked so hard on may even be tossed aside immediately if you ignore a direct request.
A good resume is a customized resume. Another high priority resume tip is to make it as relevant as possible. One way to do this is to customize it to the specific job that you are applying for. You can do this by referring to the job description and by including relevant keywords throughout the resume. Now, this may mean that you will have to create different versions of your resume for various job opportunities. So what, do it! Only having one generic resume to submit for all opportunities could be a red flag. Where some level of customization is possible, you should make the extra effort.
This is just a bad look and a huge red flag to hiring managers. Why? Because this is something that you have complete control over. Most resume tips will have this at the top of the list. It screams laziness to have spelling and grammar mistakes on a resume. At the core of how to make a resume should be to make it free from these types of mistakes. Read it over, then read it over again, then have someone you trust do the same. Please, I'm begging you!
You may be receiving a lot of resume tips from a variety of people in your life. But it comes down to some pretty simple concepts. A good resume is specific, current, relevant and honest. Being aware of, and avoiding, some of the red flags mentioned above should prevent your resume from standing out for the wrong reasons!