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How not to write a resume: are you guilty of these common mistakes?

Having a good resume can make the difference between getting an interview and being assigned straight to the 'no' pile

A good resume speaks to a prospective employer directly and lets them know why you would be the best candidate for the job they are advertising. Your resume is not supposed to be a general overview of your career history, although this will, of course, feature; instead, it should market and advertise your individual abilities, achievements and goals in relation to a particular vacancy. Your resume may need to be honed and updated slightly, but this is a small price to pay if it wins you a coveted interview.

Tina Nicolai, founder of Resume Writers’ Ink, has spoken about the common mistakes that instantly turn her off while reading a candidate’s resume. After sifting through an enormous 40,000 resumes over the years, she says you would be surprised at how many times the same errors arise.

Firstly, writing long-winded summaries full of lengthy sentences and unnecessary adjectives can be off-putting to an interviewer, who is likely to have multiple resumes to scrutinise. Remember that you are marketing yourself, not writing a novel – keep the information short, sharp and straight to the point. Nicolai advises that bullet points are a good way to clearly and concisely illustrate the achievements, qualifications and experience that are relevant to the role.

Using jargon and cliches is also a big turn off for potential employers. If a candidate truly believes in their abilities, they should be able to present them in a unique and creative way without relying on old adages that have been used a million times before. Beware of using cliches such as ‘team player’ and ‘thinking outside the box’; instead, use your own voice to get your point across.

Finally, many applicants make the mistake of writing too formally and rigidly, presumably believing that this creates a sense of intelligence and professionalism; unfortunately, it also makes a resume hard to read and devoid of any real personality. If you want the person reading your resume to engage, don’t write it in the style of an encyclopedia; instead, try to present your personality in an interesting manner.

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