People make common resume and LinkedIn mistakes all the time — here's how to avoid them.
Job searching is much like buying a house. You convey your preferences, comfort zone, price range, and location.
You also learn the real-estate lingo and how to avoid items described with filler. You know “cozy” is another word for “small” and “needs a little work” means to run for the hills. It's these keywords that describe something — or someone — we cannot see for ourselves.
Much like prospective homeowners, hiring managers and recruiters learn to sift through cover letters, resumes and LinkedIn profiles. They know the filler language, and they search for candidates who meet their criteria without sounding ridiculous. They cringe at the sight of terms that are vague or too “buzzword-y.” This is a sign that the candidate doesn't know what they're doing, but wants to look like they do. You, as a job seeker, need to learn what to put on a resume and LinkedIn profile — and what not to.
Padding your resume and LinkedIn profile is dangerous, lazy, and unprofessional. Just because you've run out of things to say doesn't give you permission to jam your profile with unnecessary descriptions and adjectives. Rather than fill the pages with disconnected filler, show what you're capable of achieving for the company. Try replacing these common mistakes with quantifiable results by implementing these important LinkedIn profile tips, plus other resume writing examples.
1. Show them you're an achiever, not just a doer
Yes, most companies look for candidates who follow instructions, abide by industry standards, and use effective, proven methods. However, job seekers and candidates shouldn't stop there; this simply isn't enough. Show the company you can achieve higher results and take their brand to the next level.
With this in mind, statements like “responsible for…” and “job duties include…” don't cut it anymore and aren't things to include on a resume. Hiring managers don't want to see regurgitated job descriptions from the human resources department. Instead, they want to see what you really did to improve the company of your last job, so use strong descriptive verbs, not adjectives or adverbs, to describe your achievements. Here is an example:
Wrong: Responsible for maintaining strict inventory compliance.
Right: Reduced inventory waste by proactively monitoring all inventory requisitions and determining correct usage.
2. If you're a problem solver, prove it!
Saying you have problem-solving skills doesn't tell the recruiter anything — this could mean you played solitaire or crossword puzzles all day! Hiring managers and recruiters want real examples to understand how you solved problems. For instance, did you rectify aged accounts receivable or reduce downtime by 50 percent? Consider your past five positions. Ask yourself: “What achievements did I accomplish?” “Did I leave my mark on the company? How?” Look for quantifiable information — numbers, facts, figures, and data.
Next, go through your last five positions and make a list. Come up with 10 notable contributions and problems solved. Once you determine your top contributions to your previous companies, reduce each list to the three most important contributions. Place numbers and results before strategies. Here is an example:
Wrong: Built new accounts management system that reduced aged account receivables by 30 percent.
Right: Reduced aged receivables 30 percent by designing a new accountability system.
3. Be sure to eliminate mistakes
We all claim to be detailed-oriented; it's our perverse nature seeking to be recognized for accomplishments and contributions. There's nothing wrong with this — as long as it actually reflects your overall personality. Never claim to be detailed-oriented if you aren't. That's also not what to put on a resume. Instead, there are ways to convey this knowledge without actually saying it, like listing the achievements and problems solved from your past jobs.
The best method by far is eliminating mistakes from your resume and LinkedIn profile. There are few mistakes that are sure to lose a job during the job search faster than spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. One typo and all your claims of being detailed-oriented fly straight out the window. Use Microsoft Word to type all LinkedIn information, or at the very least, install the “freemium” Grammarly extension on your browser to help catch stray typos.
Related: How to Proofread Your Resume
4. Remove the fluff from your words
Many professional resume writers and recruiters usually see these two common mistakes on resumes and LinkedIn profiles: not promoting yourself enough and over-promoting yourself. Either scenario is dangerous to a candidate, but the most dangerous is stuffing your content with fluff. Save the stuffing for the politicians. Here are two of the most common stuffers:
Self-starter: All candidates should be willing to do their job without the need for others to push them. Saying you are a self-starter sends the message you have no meaningful information to back it up or are underqualified for the job. The same sentiment goes for “highly motivated” and “results-driven.” Show real examples on your resume that prove you'll go the extra mile.
Team player: Hiring managers cringe when they read these lines. As with self-starter, they expect all candidates to play well with others. It seems to them as though you couldn't come up with anything better to say. If you want to convey that you work well in groups, give specific examples from your past work experience.
5. Did you say you're obsessive? We'll get back to you
No matter how much you love your work and want to give it your best, obsessive is never positive — and definitely not what to put on a perfect resume or LinkedIn profile. This is like saying “I'm creepy” or “Please like me.” It's weird, uncomfortable, and will probably get you escorted to the elevator.
On the other hand, passionate is never a bad thing to say. Use the career summary section to talk about your passion for the industry and give examples of the sector you love most and why. Show examples of past projects you were excited about, keeping the language professional and in the third person. Here are some examples:
Always Wrong: Journalism is such a great field. I'm obsessed with learning new things and writing about them for others to read.
Wrong: I love journalism. It gives me the opportunity to explore my passions.
Right: Professional journalist with experience delivering local news through diligent research and systematic interviews with a focus on truth and objectivity.
6. Never talk money until it's time
Salary negotiation is always is a tedious part of the employment process, but it has no place on a resume or LinkedIn profile. Never post your salary expectations online or say you expect a certain amount. Not only does this put you below candidates asking for less money, it gives the future employer or hiring manager the upper hand at the negotiation table. Plus, it's no one's business what you make or want to make. Let the recruiter or hiring manager approach you regarding this matter either during or after the interview.
Saying your salary is negotiable is another big mistake. Consider this the same as above — it's no one's business what you want to earn until they interview you. Plus, it makes you come across as a little desperate. Instead of focusing on salary at this point, focus on your qualifications. Show the recruiters you are worth what they are willing to pay. A little research doesn't hurt either; brush up on salary, benefits, and other perks of the role you're seeking using a site like Glassdoor.
Avoiding these mistakes is important because they can either make or break your chances for opportunities. Keeping your LinkedIn account active and your resume updated is also important. Spend at least one hour each week posting news, updating your information, connecting with colleagues, and researching your industry on LinkedIn. For your resume, spend at least one to two hours hour each month looking at areas on your resume in need of improvement. For example, you may receive a reward or promotion, or your department may pay for a seminar at the local university. Just remember these Linkedin profile and resume tips when you update as well.
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