A bad resume can knock you out of the running for a job that you deserve, no matter how illustrious your work history.
Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations for the last eight years, would know.
Google sometimes gets more than 50,000 resumes in a single week, and Bock has personally reviewed more than 20,000.
In a recent post on LinkedIn, Bock highlights the most common mistakes that cause him to throw out a resume and how to correct them.
Even if you’re not gunning for a Google job, avoiding these mistakes will make sure your resume helps — not hurts — you, no matter what you’re applying for.
Here are the five resume mistakes that Bock sees again and again.
Mistake One: Typos
It sounds obvious, but Bock says he sees spelling, punctuation, and noun-verb agreement mistakes all the time.
People who spend a lot of time tweaking their resumes are more likely to miss typos, since they have read through everything so many times. To avoid silly mistakes, Bock suggests reading your resume over from bottom to top, which will help you focus better on each line, or having someone else give it a read.
“Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality,” he writes.
Mistake Two: Length
If your resume is more than two pages, you’re doing it wrong. A good rule, Bock says, is that you can have one page of resume for every ten years of work experience.
“Think about it this way: the *sole* purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. That’s it,” Bock says. “It’s not to convince a hiring manager to say ‘yes’ to you (that’s what the interview is for) or to tell your life’s story (that’s what a patient spouse is for).”
If you have a succinct, focused resume packed with only the most important information, it shows your potential-employer that you known how to synthesize and prioritise information.
Mistake Three: Complicated formatting
You want your resume to look clean and legible above all, so skip the fancy fonts and artistic touches. Some basic rules: The font should be at least ten point, and your resume should have half-inch margins, consistent spacing, aligned columns, and your name and contact information on each page. Black type on white paper is best.
Bock recommends saving your resume as a PDF, but if you don’t, you should make sure you check it out in both Word and Google Docs so no weird formatting issues slip through.
Mistake Four: Revealing confidential company information
Bock says 5-10% of resumes reveal confidential information, which is a clear sign to him that those candidates could reveal Google’s trade secrets later on if they got hired.
“There’s an inherent conflict between your employer’s needs (keep business secrets confidential) and your needs (show how awesome I am so I can get a better job),” Bock writes. “So candidates often find ways to honour the letter of their confidentiality agreements but not the spirit. It’s a mistake.”
He gives the example of one resume he received where the candidate wrote that they had “consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington.” Sure, the applicant didn’t straight-up say that his previous company had worked with Microsoft, but he might as well have.
Mistake Five: Telling Outright Lies
Lying on your resume is never worth it, Bock says. You may be tempted to slightly exaggerate your work history, round up your GPA, or say that you actually got that degree that you were just shy of achieving, but don’t do it.
As Bock points out, you can easily get busted thanks to reference checks and Google searches, and even old lies can still get you fired if they’re discovered.
Plus, he adds, “Our mums taught us better. Seriously.”