Writing your résumé is a big deal, wouldn’t you think? Especially if you really need a job to maintain your lavish lifestyle or keep your kid in video games. There are maybe a handful of things in life that you don’t want to screw up—think marriage proposal, your CPA exam, and, yep, a résumé is right up there at the top because a bad one can basically decimate all the other things you’ve managed to get right. So why, for the love of God, are people still peppering their résumés with spelling and grammatical mistakes?
OK, so maybe that’s not the worst (although a TopResume survey revealed it to be the No. 1 biggest deal-breaker for employers). Maybe it’s understandable that a frantic, jobless CPA accidentally dismantled his or her spell check. But that’s not the only mistake that turns up with frequency on résumés.
Let’s take a look at the most egregious mistakes, kindly contributed by the experts at TopResume, so you don’t repeat them. Not that you would. However, keep in mind you probably don’t want to make these mistakes in your marriage proposal either, so … you’re welcome!
1. The first thing they read … you were on the dance team
A résumé is definitely the place to showcase your talents, but make sure they’re relevant. You’re far enough along in your career to put your education at the bottom and leave off the little details you used to pad your résumé right out of college. Lead with quantifiable work details, such as the high volume of tax returns you prepared last year. Make it clear that you’ve earned your stripes as a bold CPA in corporate finance, not as first-chair clarinet in the marching band.
2. A terrible headshot (or any headshot)
There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t include a headshot. It’s not very considerate of your sought-out employer, for one. They’re trying to be non-discriminatory, don’t you know? Plus, you want your skills to get you the job. If your impressive beard gets you a Big 4 job, you’re in trouble. If you really hate the idea that you can’t charm them with your Blue Steel pose, include the URL to your LinkedIn profile. They’ll get the idea. Also, here’s a helpful life tip: Stay away from Blue Steel for any occasion—job interview, marriage proposal, final week of tax prep (unless it helps you stay sane).
3. They don’t care that you like Dave Matthews Band
We get it. You’re desperate. You want to stand out by relating on a personal level with others who like Dave Matthews Band. But, and we can not repeat this enough, your résumé isn’t the equivalent of your high school locker door. Stick to the task at hand, and remember that you’re an accountant, not a stage manager, lighting technician, roadie, or anything else related to being a rock star. If that made you cry, you should be reading a different blog post.
4. Embarrassing spelling mistakes and other typos
All spelling mistakes are bad, but some are worse than others. Don’t include an “Educuation” section and list “accruel accounting” as a core competency—after claiming to be detail-oriented in your cover letter. If you spell out CPA, make sure you include the “l” in “public.” Then there are those spelling mistakes that just look sloppy. Get your “their,” “they’re,” and “there” right. Make sure you get the spelling of your favorite software right: Sage Intacct, Thomson Reuters, Xero. The best thing you can do is hand your résumé over to someone else: your most anal-retentive friend, your mom, or a professional résumé reviewer.
5. Your email address belongs to a party animal
Consider how your email address might come across in the professional world. It can’t be the one you owned well before you were considering your career path. “Pintsizecutie,” “hotbuns,” and “kegk1ng05” are all highly inappropriate for making the right impression on your future employer. Shared email addresses like “email@example.com” also give the wrong impression. It just looks bad when you can’t manage to set up one professional looking email address for your job search. It doesn’t take long and it costs nothing to create one through a provider like Gmail, so take the time and set yourself up for success.
6. Don’t make your résumé an eye exam
Your résumé needs to be super-scannable and not result in a migraine. Recruiters are going to be looking for six pieces of information in the first six seconds of scanning your résumé. You need to make it effortless for them to find that info. Trying to cram your entire life onto one page by using 9-point font and one-fourth-inch margins is not going to help them see why you’re the best CPA for the job.
By the way, those six pieces of information are:
- Your name;
- Contact information;
- Supporting media;
- Headers; and
- Professional title.
There’s a lot you need to get right when crafting your résumé. The least you can do is get rid of the seemingly obvious, easily avoidable mistakes. Yet so many résumés land on the hiring desk with those same mistakes—over and over again. What’s going on? We’re going to chalk it up to the weirdness that happens to a brain as it approaches a life moment you don’t want to screw up. It’s understandable.
The best thing to do is take deep breaths and don’t rush out your resume until it’s ready. Or your CPA exam. Or a marriage proposal. Although, now that we think about it, you’d better get your résumé and CPA exam straight before you even think about a marriage proposal. Good luck!
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