Top 6 Mistakes Millennials Make on Their Resume and Cover Letter

First impressions are easy to make and hard to shake. This is why it’s so important that your resume and CV are absolutely polished and perfected before you apply to a job.

Little mistakes or larger miscalculations on writing and layout will make the reader stop thinking about the story you are trying to tell (about how great you are and how good a fit you will be for the job), and instead get them thinking about what your application says about you, but not in a the way you want.

I’ve seen a lot of millennial job seekers make some very fixable mistakes on their resumes and CVs. Beyond the usual suspects (spelling errors), there are some less obvious traps and errors that are made too often.

Bad spelling and inconsistent style

Aside from typos and spelling mistakes, watch out for inconsistent style. By inconsistencies I mean using a period at the end of one bullet point but not others, starting sentences in a resume list with a verb sometimes and other times not — basically not sticking to a single style.

Similarly, watch out for word repetition. If you’re saying the same thing with the same word all the time, grab a thesaurus and find another word for it.

Overused templates

Beware the default resume template offered by Microsoft Word. You shouldn’t consider your resume to be of ‘default’ quality, so don’t set it back by choosing a resume template that everyone else is using or has used for ages.

This may seem minor, but the reviewer will be going through a big stack of resumes, and those with a more distinct visual style will stand out.

Outdated language

Freshen up your language and your application will look a lot better. This means preventing dry, outdated phrases like “references available on request” from getting past your first draft.

A good rule of thumb here is to rephrase anything that sounds generic or is not specific to the job you are applying to or the skill/experience you are trying to describe.

Don’t be “detail-oriented,” instead find a more narrow, literal description for what you did and what you want to do. You may have literally “worked” at a job or were “responsible for” certain tasks, but that doesn’t tell the reviewer anything — find more accurate phrases that get at the value or results of what you did, like “sold personalized coverage options” instead of “sold insurance plans.”

Irrelevant skills

Which brings us to this next resume/CV problem: including irrelevant skills. One common sign of this is listing skills for technology that might have been new and unique a few years ago, but not now.

For example, everyone knows how to use Microsoft Word. Everyone is good at multitasking. Instead, tailor your skill list to the tech and industry-specific proficiencies the job requires, such as specific programs or apps the job will need.

Too long

For resumes and CVs, keep it to one or two pages, and three if absolutely necessary. Never go past three pages, as no one reading it will.

Even going past two pages is very contextual, and is usually done with those with decades of experience or in careers that are professional and highly specialized, like law, or for those in the academic world. Even in these areas, I’ve seen CVs that go on for more than 10 pages that could be done in four or five. Always look for repetition, and cut it.

Resume out of chronological order

Start your resume with your last job, not your best job. Making the order reverse chronological (newest to oldest) is a universal must. Why? Because the most recent information is that which the hiring manager is most interested in. Having them have to scroll or scan down for the job experience they most want to see is an immediate disengagement point.

There’s no reason to get creative with your resume order, so don’t, even if your last job didn’t have the most application experience for the job you are applying to.

However, if you just finished a degree or master’s degree, feel free to put your educational experience at the top — whatever is most impressive, your recent education achievement or last job.

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