CVS / AUG. 25, 2015
version 12, draft 12

The Most Common Violated Resume Rules

Writing a resume is important and, if you want to make sure that yours receives more than a quick scan from a hiring manager, you might want to avoid violating any of these common resume rules. This is particularly important if you want your resume to make it to the second phase of the screening process, because even a violation of the most basic rule might keep you from being called in for an interview.

1. Using Overly Extravagant Designs

When writing a resume, you should avoid using overly extravagant designs. For example, sticking with one font type is preferred. When you use multiple fonts throughout the resume, however, you’re not being creative – you’re actually creating a visual problem that will distract the hiring manager, which will get your resume passed over and will hinder your chances of getting a job interview. Moreover, using design tools such as shading, highlighting, and colored fonts are all unprofessional and should be avoided at all times.

However, this rule doesn’t necessarily apply to creative professionals like someone in the graphic design field where such creativity with fonts and design is expected and encouraged.

2. Using the Wrong Ordering Format

Another commonly violated rule of resume writing is when people utilize the wrong format for ordering details of their job experience. There are two general types of ordering formats such as chronological and functional.

With regard to ordering employment history in the chronological format, you list your most recent job first, followed by your previous jobs. However, with regard to functional ordering formats, your skill set and professional abilities are highlighted more rather than your chronological work history.

The violation occurs when an individual uses the wrong ordering format and then becomes ineffective at securing the attention of the hiring manager. For example, if you are making a career transition or are new to the professional workforce, you should not use the chronological ordering format, which should only be used when focusing on many years of experience and applying for a job in the same field. Additionally, individuals who have gaps in their employment history, have changed jobs regularly, and are planning to reenter the workforce, should use the functional ordering resume.

3. Oversharing Your Personal Interests

When writing a resume, your main goal is to find a way to catch the attention of the hiring manager. You must be strategic and shouldn’t overshare your personal interests. While they sometimes should be included, most professional resumes should do not require a listing of personal interests unless you have a viable reason for including them. For example, if you are applying for a job in the field of fitness and sports marketing, you should add personal interests such as rock climbing, cycling, or surfing. Likewise, if you have published several books and are applying for employment in the publishing industry, you should include your interest in writing as a demonstration of your personal achievements in the field.

Remember that your main objective is to get an interview. If you list too many nonsensical personal interests or list hobbies for no particular reason correlating to the employment opportunity, you will be violating the strategic personal interest rule.

4. Including “References Upon Request”

Including references upon request is simply unnecessary in your resume. You should avoid adding this to your resume, as it is implied and all employers have the common sense to know that you will provide these references when and if they are requested.

When you violate this resume rule, you are only succeeding in demonstrating your ignorance in how a professional resume should be written. Additionally, including this line does nothing to increase your chances of getting an interview because the hiring manager will not appreciate your ignorance of the rules.

5. Writing a Resume Longer Than One Page

When writing a resume, you need to focus on the best ways to ensure that you are called in for a job interview. Hiring managers have to review a pile of resumes and this initial evaluation stage is quick as they peruse documents to see what catches their eye. You do not have much time to impress a hiring manager as he takes a short 10 to 20-second review of your resume. That is one main reason why writing a resume that is longer than one page will not get you noticed in a positive way by the hiring manager. Anything longer than a one page needs to be edited and trimmed so that it fits within the expected length.

6. Ineffectively Detailing Work Experience

Ineffectively detailing your work experience is another resume rule violation. Consider your accomplishments versus your job tasks. Which one do you think is more important and will catch the attention of the hiring manager?

Your workplace accomplishments trump your job tasks. Focus on listing your job tasks in a manner that coincides with your achievements in the workplace. Don’t simply include that you have experience in data entry and filing while excluding any types of achievements in your job. For example, you should include those job tasks while integrating them in a manner where you demonstrate that your ability to organize the office has helped to create a workplace environment that operated at maximum efficiency. That demonstration of a symbiotic relationship between completing your job tasks and achieving great results will definitely accomplish your goal of catching the interest of the hiring manager.

7. Being Sloppy in Your Presentation

Another commonly violated resume rule is being sloppy in your presentation. It is vital to effectively proofread your work so that you present a professional appearance to the hiring manager. If you have a resume full of errors, spelling mistakes and wrong employment dates, you will not make a good first impression on the hiring manager. This seems like such a basic rule, but it is broken more often than you may realize. You cannot simply rely on spellcheck alone, because it will simply not catch all the errors you may have inadvertently included in the resume.

Additionally, you will also violate this rule if you use language that makes you appear like you’re trying too hard. You don’t need to utilize “big words” in every sentence that you include. Stick to creating a resume that will impress the hiring manager. For example, listing an overload of field-specific jargon won’t increase your chances of being called in for an interview. You need to find a balance. You never know who is going to read your resume at the company. It needs to be comprehensible to the hiring manager, anyone in HR, and even the CEO, not just to the person in the Research & Development department who would be your new manager.

Have you ever violated any of these resume writing rules? If so, how did you edit your resume to avoid making any further mistakes? Let us know in the comments section below!

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