I asked an expert to look at my résumé — here are the 9 mistakes she found

Résumés are kind of like first dates.

If you seem like a good match, you’ll probably get a call back – no long-term guarantees, though.

If you don’t come across well (or show a preference for strange and upsetting fonts), you’re done.

You’ll rarely get a job solely based on your résumé, but it’s critical that you sound good on paper – at least, good enough to pique the interest of your hiring manager.

I recently sent my current (but still outdated) résumé toAmy Adler, a certified master résumé writer, management coach, and CEO of Five Strengths, for review.

Here’s her feedback:

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Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

Fortunately, she thought it was alright (better than my terrible cover letter, anyhow).

Still, Adler had a few major takeaways to keep in mind anytime you decide to apply for a job:


1. Your résumé is not an historical document — it’s a marketing piece

“Showing the slice of your history that is specific and relevant to your future hiring manager’s needs is key,” Adler says. “Put another way, your résumé is about you but for them.”

In my case, I crammed far too much random experience into my résumé, when I should’ve provided more elaborate details for a select few jobs.

Yeah, turns out that working as a historical tour guide just isn’t relevant experience when you’re applying for media jobs (just kidding, being a tour guide is awesome and relates to everything).


2. Make your resumé visually appealing

Your aesthetic is everything, especially when it comes to your résumé.

“Presenting a visually appealing document can ‘force’ your future hiring manager to read what you want them to read,” she says.

She recommends presenting your résumé in a clear, hierarchical format. Put your name, headline, and branding at the top. Next, layer the text of your experience from the most general to the most detailed information.

“This will help your audience digest your message more easily, in the order you want them to read it,” Adler says.


3. If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never get there

A résumé without a concrete goal is résumé that’s probably going to get thrown out pretty quickly.

“If you don’t have a clear career goal in mind, your audience will not take the time to figure it out for you,” Adler says. “The closer you can be to fitting your future hiring manager’s goals in your first presentation the more likely he or she will understand how you fit into their organization.”


4. Don’t be too diffuse

I made the rookie mistake of including my college email in my résumé. It’s much better to include more generic contact information, according to Adler.

Your headline and branding is very important in general – it will tell the reader exactly which job you’re focusing on. So be specific about your goals!

“The more diffuse your presentation, the more likely the hiring manager will toss your resume into the ‘no’ pile, because he or she will choose the resume of someone they can more easily understand,” Adler says.