Laszlo Bock, former senior vice president of people operations at Google–and current CEO and co-founder of Humu–is familiar with the job search grind. He, too, has sent out hundreds of résumés over the course of his career. But more so than most anyone else, Bock has gained unique insight on what a standout résumé looks like.
Bock personally reviewed more than 20,000 résumés within a 15-year span at Google. Although he says he has seen some brilliant résumés, he admits that he has continued to see the same résumé mistakes over and over, which often cost good candidates the chance to get a great position.
If you’re not careful, you’ll undermine your own success by presenting your achievements in a poorly crafted résumé. Here, according to Bock, are five really big mistakes you must avoid.
1. Lack of formatting
A messy and illegible résumé is a résumé that won’t get you anywhere. Keep formatting clean and organized, using black ink on white paper with half-inch margins. Align columns and have consistent spacing. Make sure your name and contact info is on every page–not just the first. If sending your résumé by email or text, save it as a PDF to preserve your formatting–and your hard work.
2. Enclosing confidential information
Pay attention to policies and avoid creating a conflict between employer needs and your own needs as an applicant. For example, if you’re coming from a consulting firm, it is likely that you are not allowed to share client names–so don’t do so on your résumé! Also, even though you don’t mention the client’s name, you might provide a strong hint of who it is you’re referring to. Says Laszlo, “On the résumé, the candidate wrote: ‘Consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington.’ Rejected! … While this candidate didn’t mention Microsoft specifically, any reviewer knew that’s what he meant.”
Proofread your résumé multiple times. Have your friends or colleagues proofread your résumé too. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 58 percent of résumés have typos. Be wary of grammatical errors, incorrect alignment, and more–otherwise, a hiring manager will think you don’t pay attention to details. Laszlo suggests this additional pro tip: “Read your résumé from bottom to top: Reversing the normal order helps you focus on each line in isolation.”
4. Too long
“A good rule of thumb is one page of résumé for every 10 years of work experience,” explains Bock. Remember, the reason you present a résumé is to get an interview, not to be hired on the spot (although that would be a major plus). Says Laszlo, “Once you’re in the room, the résumé doesn’t matter much. So cut back your résumé. It’s too long.” Craft a concise and focused résumé that prioritizes the most important information. Save the life story for later.
There are a lot of things you could lie about on a résumé, and Bock has seen them all: work experience, college degrees, GPAs, sales results. Once you tell a lie during the hiring process, if it is discovered you will face consequences. Above all else, lying is unethical. And who wants an unethical employee? Says Laszlo, “Putting a lie on your résumé is never, ever, ever worth it. Everyone, up to and including CEOs, gets fired for this. (Google ‘CEO fired for lying on résumé’ and see.)”
Hiring managers are looking for the best of the best–equip yourself with the right knowledge about the mistakes other people make and soon you will rise to the top!