Your resume is arguably the most important document you’ll ever create. It will make or break your chances of getting a job interview and ultimately, growing your career. Hiring managers do not have a lot of time, and experienced pros can look at a resume and decide within mere seconds whether the resume goes in the “second look” pile or the trash. If you’re making any of these errors, your resume is likely landing in the proverbial circular file.
Spelling and Grammar Issues
It does not matter what the job entails, no one is going to interview an engineer who doesn’t proofread their resume. A document riddled with mistakes is the first clue that a candidate has no attention to detail – and detail orientation is a critical success factor for engineers. Always have at least two other people review your resume before submitting it.
Your resume should be easy to read, which means using 10-12 point fonts, bulleted lists, and yes, white space. If a hiring manager must squint or try to decode your information, they will simply give up and toss it in the garbage. They should be able to tell by a quick scan whether you have the skills and relevant experience to do the job well.
Lengthy, Unexplained Gaps in Your Work History
In today’s world, gaps in your work history will not automatically disqualify you from getting hired, unless they go unexplained. If you took time away from work, address it in your cover letter. Hiring managers won’t balk if they see you were earning another degree, raising children or caring for a sick parent. They will balk if they see two years missing with no explanation. Make sure to include any additional skills you worked on during your time off, or any volunteer work you may have done.
Failure to Align Yourself With the Needs of the Company
Sending out the same resume for every job won’t cut it in today’s world. You have to be able to prove to the person reading your resume that your skills, experience, work history, and strengths align with exactly what they are looking for. The good news? They tell you what they want in their job posting. Make sure to include critical keywords and highlight your aligned skills for each job you apply to.
Applying For a Job That is Way Out of Your League
There is nothing wrong with throwing your hat in the ring for a job that is one step up the ladder, but if you’re attempting to skip two or more steps, you’re wasting your time and the hiring manager’s time. If you are shooting for a step forward, make sure you can prove yourself by qualifying your achievements and leadership experience on the job or in your volunteer work.