Career Services team is a resource for effective resumes: 'Be strategic about what to put in, what to leave out'
Most employers spend only about a half a minute reviewing a resume. To pass through that quick, initial glance a hiring manager might cast upon one resume among many, University of Houston-Clear Lake Career Counselor Cory McGregory said being more strategic about what you put on your resume could be more impactful than adding more details and extra information that employers don’t need.
McGregory said everyone on the Career Services team is here to connect students with the resources they need to prepare for the job market. Because resumes are generally the first contact a hiring manager has with an applicant, he shares five things to avoid putting on your resume in order to make the best possible first impression.
1. Inaccuracies about qualifications or experience; fudging on job titles. “If you say you were involved with the organization of an event, but you really didn’t do much, that will become evident soon,” he said. “If your role in an event was checking in guests, but stated you coordinated the event, that could become a problem.” He said that if you complete tasks that are outside the typical parameters of your job description, it’s fine to list those as a bullet point. “But, be careful,” he cautioned. "For example, if you were a sales person and sometimes you trained a new employee, you would not change your job title to ‘trainer.’ You can articulate your tasks in bullet points, but maintain your accurate job title.”
2. Embellishing technical skills. “If you say you’re proficient in a certain technical platform when you’ve only done it once will cause a problem,” he said. “This will come up quickly in your job duties and could become a real catch point. An employer often looks at your resume during the interview and asks you about it. It’s best not to overstate your skills.” He added that employers are not always looking for technical mastery; proficiency could suffice. “Saying you’ve ‘mastered’ a tech platform means you know everything about it. But saying you’re ‘proficient’ means you’ve got skills to a certain level.”
3. Language proficiency. “People often say they’re fluent in a language, but in reality, they just understand it a little and don’t speak much,” he said. “When employers say they would like someone who is proficient in a language, they mean that they require someone who can confidently communicate and converse with clients in another language. If that’s the case, then put it in your resume.” Adding words like “beginner” or “intermediate level” are also to be avoided in reference to language skills. “Those words are subjective,” he said. “It’s hard for an employer to know what you mean by ‘beginner.’”
4. Listing too many “soft skills.” McGregory said the “skills” section of the resume should focus on technical skills. “When you list things like ‘great communicator’ or ‘attention to detail,’ those should be presented in your bulleted tasks under 'experience'," he said. “Instead of saying those things, demonstrate them in a well-written resume and cover letter with all needed documents attached correctly.”
5. Adding photos, other images or icons to your resume. “The data shows us that employers don’t want to see these things because they open the door to discrimination issues,” he explained. “Many resumes are received by applicant tracking systems that read resumes and see how well they match the job posting. Key words are vital, but images and incorrect formatting can throw off the tracking system and your resume could be lost in the shuffle.”
Looking for help with writing a resume, cover letters, improving interviewing skills, or career exploration? Career Services at UH-Clear Lake can help you begin developing your career path long before you graduate. For more information and to learn about additional resources, visit www.uhcl.edu/career-services/.