Every day, our team at Let’s Eat, Grandma receives a batch of resumes for scoring, and we have a fairly good idea of the “average resume.”
We decided to take our resume scoring one step further — and detect some common mistakes from the average resume that gets sent to recruiters.
This article has one main objective…
Teach you how to write a resume with better content, design, and phrasing — to ultimately increase the chances of getting that interview.
To begin our journey, we decided to break down the biggest three mistakes we saw in “average resume submissions” to our company.
For you stats people: we believe that our resume pool is a good sample of the average resume for the following reasons…
- We have thousands of resumes to compare [large sample population]
- We have a diversity of industries and levels of experience for the resumes that were sent in.
Alas, here are the biggest mistakes we found within each category of scoring (Content, Phrasing, Design):
Mistake #1: Content not targeted toward a specific job
The biggest content related mistake we found was lack of specificity within the summary of qualifications and subsequent job experiences. Resumes were not geared toward a particular type of job – but an overall “professional’s resume.” Many people like to take the shotgun approach and write a resume that can be sent across the board for any interesting job that comes their way.
We at Let’s Eat, Grandma are here to tell you that this is wrong! This is a milquetoast way of communicating your value – and we want you to take the “sniper approach.” (See blog about targeting your resume).
It’s important to understand that recruiters are looking for the best match for a specific job posting based on a number of key phrases and words (using ATS or quickly skimming through resumes). Remember to highlight these specific traits by sending out various targeted resumes.
- Take a closer look at your job postings. Print them out and circle keywords that each job posting calls for.
- If you notice common themes between job postings, categorize them together. This will help you decide if you need to write multiple versions of your resume.
- Write down a list of 7-8 specific keywords and qualifications that each “category” calls for.
- Rewrite the resume with the targeted approach. (For instance, write a summary at the top that is geared toward one type of position; ensure that the bullet points that follow in your professional experiences are congruent with that position).
Mistake #2: Inconsistent phrasing
This is probably the easiest of mistakes to fix; however, it was the most common phrasing mistake we found. The phrasing – (especially at the beginning of bullet points) – was inconsistent with the phrasing of the other bullet points. For example, past tense should match past tense action verbs. Present tense should match present tense. And so on.
It’s important to follow the conventions of resume writing and make sure that you have consistent phrasing within each section. This ultimately will make your content easier to process – and will keep your resume looking professional. (Remember, we are learning how to make a resume that doesn’t suck).
- Print out your resume on a piece of paper. (This usually makes phrasing type mistakes more obvious).
- Circle all instances where phrasing is not parallel.
- Fix your phrasing!
Mistake #3: Lack of skim value within resume design
When you are writing a resume, you need to make it as easy as possible to skim. Period.
You see, most people write resumes under the pretense that someone is going to take each bullet point under a microscope and give it a solid 10 minute read. Even if you know on a conscious level that this doesn’t happen, I can guarantee that you’ve written a resume or two that assumes that people are going to read everything — no matter what.
Not the case (at least in the first pass)! You need to imagine that in a best case scenario, someone is going to spend seconds on your document before deciding whether or not you are qualified.
This is where design and layout become incredibly important. Great formatting tools should be used in your arsenal in order to make the resume easier to read.
- Use white space to allow your resume to breathe. In the battle between “white space” vs. “keep-resume-to-one-page”, white space should always win. No one is going to read your one page resume if it’s super dense!
- Use formatting tools effectively to differentiate between each element of the resume (e.g. position title, dates, really cool keyword-based skills you have that you would like to unpack, etc.)
- Check these resume design elements for consistency. This is what will allow your formatting tools to be effective. If there is no consistency, you don’t have an easy to read resume.
- When in doubt, model a resume that does this really well. There are plenty of professionally written examples out there that you can model.