In "Ask the Career Expert," we ask our resident career Jedi, Bonnie, your burning questions about work, job searches, and who would win in a wrestling match between Lady Gaga and Leonardo DiCaprio. Have a question you'd like to ask? Use the hashtag #askthecareerexpert on IG or Twitter and we'll bug her until she answers.
For today's "Ask the Career Expert," we grilled Bonnie on what makes the difference between a resumé that hiring managers notice and one that gets tossed in the garbage?
"Here's the thing," says Bonnie. "Of every client that's ever walked through my door, only about five percent of people actually have their resumé polished to perfection." When asked what were the most common mistakes that people make on their resumés, Bonnie hit us with these five #epicfails.
1. Thinking Your Resumé is a Golden Ticket
A resumé isn't your golden ticket to a job. Think of it more as a "maybe punch pass" to an interview. A resumé shouldn't be the only thing in your arsenal to get you noticed. You could also have a killer cover letter, an awesome online portfolio, great connections, and whatever else you need to get your foot in the door. Think of a resumé as one of your tools–not the be all, end all for getting a job.
2. Using the Same Resumé for Every Job Application
If you're applying for more than one job, you need to tweak your resumé each time. That's because your resumé should always be tailored to the job posting to which you're replying. The experience and talents needed for each job posting are different, so if you're just using the same resumé again and again, a hiring manager is going to more like "WTH?" than "Yaaaaas!"
Make sure that you highlight all of your relevant experience. A lot of youth think they don't have experience if they don't have a solid job history, but you've probably volunteered, participated in school activities, and even helped out with family members. Guess what? That's all awesome experience. Think about how it could relate to a job posting, and tailor your resumé accordingly.
3. Reciting Responsibilities Instead of Results
You know that experience we were talking about? Hiring managers literally couldn't care less if your past work duties included answering phones and getting coffee. Instead, they want to hear about results: How did you affect change in your last job? What numbers and stats can you give about your performance? What accomplishments are you super proud of? That's the stuff a hiring manager wants to know.
4. Including Stuff That Doesn't Matter
Just because it was a past job doesn't mean it merits a coveted spot on your resumé. Make sure that every inch of your resumé is covered with stuff that matters. If you're dying to get hired as a choreographer, a hiring manager probably doesn't care about your first job flipping burgers.
Other things that don't really matter on your resumé? Your address and home phone number (what if your mom answers? Awkward.) Also, get rid of your hobbies and interests (they could clash with the hiring manager), and skip typing out "References available upon request." (Yeah. They know.) Save that space for your email address, cell phone number, and why you'd be the best employee ever.
5. Grammatical Errors
Want to make sure your resumé ends up in a trash can? Make sure you leave grammatical errors, especially when you list "excellent communication skills" as one of your strengths. Always read your resumé out loud to catch any typos, grammar issues, or general weirdness before you send it out. While you're at it, skip anything cutesy (no construction paper resumés please) and casual language.
"Hiring managers look at hundreds of resumés each day," says Bonnie. "Whenever they have to do extra work–sift through irrelevant stuff, guess about your experience, or page through a novel–there's a good chance they'll toss that resumé and move onto the next one.
"Make sure that you make it to the top of the pile by delivering a resumé that is polished, relevant, and totally trash-proof."
Bonnie is our resident career expert, office cheerleader, and Gilmore Girl-watcher. She's been a career counselor for more than 20 years, putting in work with the City of Toronto, Herizon House, S.M.A.R.T., and the Toronto School of Business. Her love for helping job seekers comes second only to the love she has for her Boxer-Labrador mix, Marshall.