A first impression is everything, and when it comes to applying for a job, you only get one shot at impressing a hiring manager with your resume. Drafting a winning resume takes time and attention to detail. Perhaps more importantly, it requires you to not only be aware of the details a recruiter or human resource manager wants to see, but also common errors that may quickly prompt them to overlook your candidacy.
Whether you’re preparing to submit your resume to several entry-level finance jobs or a senior position in the investment banking sector, steering clear of the following blunders will help you get a leg up on the competition.
1. Speaking in generalities
When you’re describing your experience or skills in a resume, it’s important to watch the language you’re using to avoid broad, generic and ambiguous terms. For instance, when describing your previous job responsibilities, phrases such as “contributed to the goals of the company” give no information about what tasks you carried out each day. Instead, provide short and specific examples of your day-to-day job tasks to demonstrate your competence and value to the firm. There will be time to expound on these responsibilities in the cover letter, so providing a succinct list of your roles is preferred.
2. Using a poor format
There are several different resume templates and formats from which to choose, which can make picking the “right” format frustrating. When trying to narrow down a template, avoid flashy, wacky or cluttered formats that are riddled with lines, irregular spacing and other eye sores. The same is true for choosing a font and font size. Those with little job experience often make the mistake of using a large font to beef up their page, while those who want to showcase years of experience opt for below-normal font sizes. While you want your resume to stand out, using these types of tricks can have the opposite effect and prompt the hiring manager to look past your skill set.
3. Not catching grammatical or spelling errors
Tense mix-ups, misspellings and improper punctuation are fast ways to get disqualified from a position, so it’s important that you review your resume with a fine-toothed comb before hitting “submit.” These types of avoidable errors suggest to hiring managers that if you didn’t put the time and attention into reading over your resume carefully, you may carry the same type of attitude toward your job. To improve your chances of catching small errors after finishing your resume, enlist a friend or family member to review it for you. A fresh set of eyes may help spot mistakes you didn’t see beforehand.
4. Listing inappropriate contact information
Your resume may be polished, but if your email address is distasteful, it might jeopardize your chances of getting a call back. A creative and personalized email address may be cool when you’re communicating with friends, but it has no place in your job search and may result in hiring managers taking you less seriously. Instead, create a new email account solely to be used for your career.