Whether you're new to the world of job searching or have been at it for quite some time, you probably know that your resume is the first thing prospective employers will use to judge your qualifications. But what you may not realize is that certain aspects of your resume could wind up turning potential hiring managers off. Here are a few to be mindful of.
1. Too Much Job-Hopping
No longer do college graduates get hired at a specific company and stay there for life. Nowadays, job-hopping is so common that employers practically expect you to leave after a certain period of time. In fact, the average worker today will have 10 different jobs before turning 40, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That said, there is such a thing as too much job-hopping, and if your resume reflects that, it could become a red flag for potential employers. So if you've held down, say, eight different jobs in the past four years, you may want to avoid mentioning a few. You can get around this by listing your various stints in terms of years during which you were employed, and not referring to specific months.
For example, if you worked at Company A from January 2016 through June 2016, and Company B from July 2016 through December 2016, and the former is much more relevant to your career path, you might omit your stint at Company B and simply list that you worked at Company A in 2016.
2. An Unexplained Gap
Maybe you took time off during your career to raise children or go back to school. While there's nothing wrong with that, the problem with having a gap on your resume is that it might raise questions with prospective employers. So rather than leave those reading your resume to wonder what you did with yourself during that period, fill in the blank. You can add a quick note on your resume indicating what that time was used for, thus eliminating the guesswork.
Better yet, if you happened to do some freelance work during that period (say, you worked a few hours a week for several years while your kids were young, or while you took a year to travel), there's no need to go into detail about that gap. Instead, list something along the lines of "freelance writer" or "freelance graphic designer" for that period of time. The folks reading your resume won't have any way of knowing whether you worked on a full-time or part-time basis, which means you won't have to address the gap issue at all.
3. An Unclear Career Path
If you worked in a number of different industries, chances are your resume will seem a little disjointed. This especially holds true if you held positions of different levels, or had years when you seemingly went down a level from a previous position (for example, if you went from being a manager in 2013 to being somebody's assistant in 2014). The best way to get around this is to compose a clear opening summary that tells prospective employers who you are. You might, for example, say something like "Marketing whiz with strong analytical background," which would explain why you went from advertising assistant to hedge fund associate to in-house copywriter.
4. Too Much Personal Information
There's nothing wrong with mentioning one or two personal tidbits on your resume if they happen to play into your skill set. But focusing on your hobbies too much could send the message that you're lacking in experience, and therefore need filler content to compensate. A better bet? Leave hobbies off your resume, or limit yourself to items that make you more marketable. For example, if you're a volunteer firefighter, that shows that you're able to stay cool under pressure, which is worth a mention. But your prospective employers really don't need to know about your love of quilting.
The more strategic you are with your resume, the greater your chances of it getting you in the door somewhere. So pay attention to these potential turnoffs, and take steps to address them. It could end up spelling the difference between landing an interview and losing out on an otherwise solid opportunity.
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This article was originally published on The Motley Fool. It is reprinted with permission.