I dedicate this blog to my grandmother.

The three fatal resume mistakes, as voted on by a distinguished panel of employees at Mike Mittleman Career Coaching (that would be me, me and me):

  1. Including a professional summary
  2. Omitting a tagline
  3. Filling up too much white space

Since it has been shown in recent studies that humans have a shorter attention span than insects, the attention span for reading a resume is even shorter than short. Guess the average time a recruiter spends reading a resume?

  1. 8-12 seconds
  2. 13-24 seconds
  3. 25-40 seconds

You got it, 8-12 seconds.  Go ahead and obsess about your wording all you want. If you don’t grab attention really quickly, go home.

Error 1: The Dreaded Professional Summary

Let’s be realistic; we have all used it. Most of us still use it today.  A typical professional summary is 3-4 sentences where you pour your poor heart and soul into a sole paragraph that nobody will read.  A thick dense paragraph tells me, the reader, you don’t know how to edit yourself, a death knoll in the workplace.

If you really want to convey information usually found in a professional summary, instead use 3 key select accomplishments in bullet format which demonstrate skills and accomplishments.  Not just any skills and accomplishments, but those most suited for your next job.  I just saved a child from a burning building; might get me into heaven, but won’t show my skills for an IT job.

Error 2: The Omitting a Tagline

What’s a tagline?  7-13 words that fit on one line that tell the reader exactly what professional bucket to put you in. You need to capture:

  • Seniority level
  • Skills for the next job
  • Clear career path

Oh, you don’t like being put into a bucket.  Sorry, the reader does this automatically; nature of the beast.  “5 YEAR DATA MINING EXPERT WITH WALL STREET AND CORPORATE EXPERIENCE”.  Clear and concise. You know exactly what this person can do for you as a hiring manager. “IT EXPERT SKILLED IN PYTHON AND R” is too broad.  Help me help you!

Error 3: Filling Up Too Much White Space

Hey, all IT professionals out there: you need to leave space on the page.  Everyone is guilty; but IT professionals really need to learn this skill. By describing every last programming language and IT platform you know, filling up the page so much will get you reading fatigue.  The human eye/brain needs a break. “We were on a break” as Ross tells everyone on Friends.

IT professionals in particular need to show soft skills on a resume.  Too many words resound with a hard “thud”.  Be soft.  Besides, life is lived on the margin, on the edge, in the pauses.  Your resume must breath like you do.