Common Résumé Tips That Actually Hurt Your Job Search

Note: This post was originally written by me for the blog Twenty Twenty ran by Twenty Something Bloggers. You can view the original post here.

Outside of cat pictures and whimsical home hacks that will drain your bank account at lightspeed, the most widespread phenomenon on the internet today is everyone giving out free résumé advice. If you make a Google search for “résumé advice”, 61.8 million search results come up…and that’s not even counting the advertisements. With such a proliferation in articles telling people how to write their CV, there has also been a rapid growth in bad advice filtering its way around the internet. That poor résumé advice is not just hurting the job prospects of a few people here and there, that same advice is degrading the quality of résumés across the board.

As someone who has served in a hiring manager at multiple jobs, there are certain mistakes I’ve come across that can hurt résumé across the board. At the same time though, some of those widely taught tips can actually harm your chances of getting a job. I’ve decided to share some of the most common résumé tips that can actually make employers less likely to give you an interview, provide you with an alternative recommendation to these common tips, as well as why you should avoid the common guidance.

Résumé Tip: Highlight your accomplishments, not your duties

What You Should Do Instead: Balance describing your duties and accomplishments for each job
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: I get the idea of wanting to talk about your accomplishments in your résumé. After all, it’s your chance to share the best things about your professional life in one quick shot. That said, any interviewer worth their salt will ask you about both your duties and your accomplishments from your previous jobs during the interview. Putting both your accomplishments and duties on your résumé allows your interviewer to ask more thorough questions during the interview. This will help both your prospective employer — as well as you — to recognize if you’re a good fit for the job.

Résumé Tip: Keep your résumé to one page in length

What You Should Do Instead: Keep your resume concise, but ditch the one page rule
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: I can’t begin to tell you how many times during college I was told that employers won’t even look at your résumé if it’s longer than a page. Not only is that a complete falsehood, it’s a dangerous rule to live by. When you limit yourself to a one page résumé, you’re typically cutting out details and accomplishments that could be reinforcing why you’re a worthy candidate to interview for a position. I’ve found that the most effective CVs tend to be between 1 and 2 pages in length, though that’s not counting any additional documentation (such as a journalism portfolio).

Résumé Tip: Send a unique, personalized cover letter with every résumé

What You Should Do Instead: Send a unique, personalized thank you email after every interview
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: I can count on one hand how many cover letters I’ve received and actually taken into an interview with a candidate. Here’s the thing: if I’m bringing your cover letter into the interview room with me, it’s because you’ve said something in your cover letter that is causing me to seriously doubt your capacity to do the job I’m interviewing you for. Despite my loathing of thank you cards in nearly every social situation, the thank you email after an interview is a nice touch to show gratitude for someone taking their time to consider you for a job.

Résumé Tip: Use power/buzz words to enhance your resume

What You Should Do Instead: Write like yourself
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: You wouldn’t lie on your résumé, would you? Of course not. Why would you lie by changing your CV to include words and terms to try to make yourself stand out if you don’t use those same words in your daily vocabulary. Yes, putting those words in your resume may get you an interview, however you’ll likely end up with a very frustrated interviewer when they realize that you’ve misrepresented yourself on your résumé. Even if your résumé doesn’t look as well-written without buzz words, you’ll likely leave a better impression on the company you’ve submitted your CV to, making it more likely they’ll call you back if a more appropriate position opens up.

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