1. Using words that waste space – There are countless words that we use on our resumes to describe ourselves. Admit it, we all try to maximize our qualities on paper. However, using words such as “incredibly,” “passionate,” “creative,” and the worst -- “hardworking” -- won't help employers learn ANYTHING about you. Don't say you're “incredibly devoted to your artwork.” You're an artist. Period.
2. Proclaiming yourself a genius – We get it. You've gotten published in your school paper, the yearly publication, and have submitted work to poetry magazines. Let this work speak for itself. Don't proclaim yourself a “guru,” a “professional,” or anything similar. Chances are, the company for which you're applying is chock-full of people equally, if not more, talented than you are.
3. Sending out identical resumes/cover letters to every employer – Even if you're applying for five ad agencies, whoever is reviewing your application will want to see that you could fit into the environment of his/her workplace. Change up the tone of your cover letter; don't just fill in blanks. Try to feel out what kind of people are in charge of your prospective position, and cater to that.
4. Including every accomplishment – A resume is not an autobiography of your life. In fact, many employers love them to be single-paged. If you were chess club president sophomore year of high school, manager Joe Schmoe probably could not care less. He wants to see why you're a fit for his company. What experiences and feats have you accomplished that boost your competence for the specific job?
5. Poorly formatting your content – It is a fact that we aren't all masters of Adobe Suite. You may not even have it on your computer. Alas, there are many, many options for you. Chances are, one of your uberchic design-related major friends has the magic touch with InDesign. Offer money, offer snacks, offer your soul, and your pal is sure to lend a helping hand. At the very least, use the super-simple premade resume outlines on Word. Your resume should be easy to navigate, and at least a little bit aesthetically pleasing.
6. Omitting references when they are asked for – Not all employers ask outright for references. If they don't, leave them off. Some people don't want them at all. However, if they are requested, and you don't include them, one of two things will happen.
1) Whoever is reviewing you will have to contact you for references, and he/she really shouldn't have to do ANY extra work.
2) It will be assumed that there was no one in your life you saw fit to represent you and your work, which is pretty creepy. A reference need not be the CEO of a company but also shouldn't be the boss from your seventh grade job cleaning dishes at the local diner (weren't you too young to work, anyway)? Use common sense. Teachers and advisors are perfect as references.
7. Adding a photo of yourself?! – This is way too common, not to mention literally one of the weirdest things you can do on your resume. Unless the job has an optional spot for you to attach images when you send along your application (American Apparel is one), leave it off.
Whether or not you look like Don Draper, himself, is irrelevant. You're not only wasting space, you're also putting your prospective employer in an uncomfortable position. If someone really cares about how you look, they'll Google your name. (If the photo of you funneling Keystone Light last weekend is the second image that comes up, re-evaluate applying for any job, ever.)
8. Adding social media – Chances are your Tumblr blog is nice, but no one really cares about all of the Lana Del Ray photos you have reposted. Unless you have a professional website (domain name, etc.), don't include your social media on your resume. As I said about photos, employers will Google your Twitter and Facebook if they so choose, but don't list the links on your resume. It looks sloppy and is probably irrelevant.
9. Silly grammatical errors – Everyone has heard this one thousand times, but using poor grammar will make you seem elementary. Some are obvious ones – “then” and “than,” “effect” and “affect.” But, some of them may slip through the cracks if you don't proofread – using “neither/either/nor/or” incorrectly.
10. Fancy resume builders you can't back up – Make sure that you can speak, in detail, about every piece of your resume. You may or may not be asked about your experiences, but you want to be prepared. If you added a volunteering job to your resume, but only attended once, out of ten times, it will be easy to tell that you have no idea what you're talking about.
All in all, use common sense. A resume does not take the place of you, as a person, but it is usually the first thing an employer will see, so make that impression count. Get that interview. Now, EDIT, EDIT, EDIT.
Naomi Falk Photo Credit: Tumblr