3 Critical Resume Mistakes That Job Hunters Keep Making

Jeff Cuellar



Singapore’s job market is competitive. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear about hundreds of people applying for a single job at a Multinational Corporation (MNC). Who can blame them? When “prime” jobs offered by MNCs come with perks like these, you can expect competition to be as bloodthirsty as a fight in a gladiatorial arena.

You might have the skills and experience needed to land your dream job. But if you can’t bring out that experience in your resume, you might as well go into the arena expecting to get torn apart by your competitors. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Michael, a headhunter for one of the world’s largest executive search firms, was good enough to share some of the biggest mistakes he sees job candidates make.

These mistakes include:


1. Not Spelling Out Your Achievements

“The worst thing a job candidate can do is list all of their job responsibilities on their resume instead of what they were able to achieve at their workplace,” explains Michael. Employers don’t care that you can perform certain responsibilities, they care that you do those responsibilities well.” 

Take a good look at your resume right now. If you’ve worked for 5, 10, or 15 years and your resume has the line “My responsibilities included” followed by a bulleted list of duties, you need to change that. That format might work for young professionals, but it won’t cut it if you’re looking to land a prime job that’ll put you in a higher income bracket.

Here are some examples of “achievements” you should be listing instead:

  • Promotions
  • Anything dealing with solving problems (ex. increased slumping international sales by 25% from 2011-2012)
  • Anything dealing with saving OR making money (ex. managed a sales and marketing budget of $100K and ended 2011 with a surplus of $35,000)

When it comes to listing your accomplishments, make sure everything you list is measurable – there must be a number, percentage, or dollar sign. HR managers especially love keywords such as revenue, profit, and savings. This mistake is actually very closely tied to mistake #3, not giving detailed measurements.


2. Not Identifying Your Specific/Unique Skill

“Everyone has a specific skill or set of skills (Ed. – no, I’m not copying Liam Neeson’s speech in ‘Taken’) that makes them valuable to an organization. The skill(s) you possess should be present in each of your job roles. HR managers and recruiters love it when they can look at a resume that presents clearly defined skill(s) that they’re looking for in a job vacancy,” relates Michael.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. But what many job hunters don’t know is that HR managers and recruiters are scanning your resume for strengths that you’ve displayed throughout your career.

For example, if you’ve worked as a marketing manager for three separate companies and you’ve demonstrated your skill in building long-term relationships with clients that generate XXX dollars annually, employers will immediately see that as a highly desirable skill.

If your resume looks like your skills are shifting about as often as a chameleon’s colors, it’s nothing to worry about. All you need to do is “tailor” your resume to show the key strength(s) you’ve shown at each of your previous positions. Also, don’t forget to make sure your strengths compliment the job that you’re applying for!


3. Not Giving Objective Measurements on Your Contributions

“I’m not talking about going to your tailor and getting a blazer with one sleeve longer than the other. I’m talking about job candidates who list a company achievement, but don’t specify ‘how’ they led or contributed to that achievement,” advises Michael. When employers see this, it puts doubts in their heads as to whether or not you were ‘instrumental’ to a company success.”

As mistake #1 points out, you need to show your achievements, not your job duties if you want to keep your resume from being sent to the trash bin. But even if you do list your accomplishments, it might still end up being trashed.

Why? Because employers want details, that’s why!

It’s not enough for you to list out that your sales team increased their sales by 22% since you took over the department. They want to know your role in the turnaround. Did you design and oversee a new sales process that increased sales by $1.5 million? Did you automate some sales processes to increase efficiency and boost sales by 25%?

These are the details that employers want, which just might be enough to set you apart from the other the other job applicants. We’re always on the lookout for good tips on how to build your career, so follow us on Facebook as we delve more into this.


Bonus Tip: Making a mistake on your resume is one thing, but there are worse errors than just not getting a phone call back from a prospective employer. Over the weekend I came across an article on TRS (I know, not exactly Pulitzer Prize winning stuff) about an individual who received a job confirmation email, left his job, and then received another email a week later saying the confirmation email was a “glitch.”

It’s a tale of caution that every job seeker should be aware of – if you’re looking for a better job and receive an email saying that the job is yours, DO NOT QUIT YOUR JOB UNTIL YOU’VE SIGNED AN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT!


Do you have any other resume mistakes worth sharing? Share your experience with us here!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.