Top 10 Resume Mistakes from YPIC, Yuma, AZ

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Stressed-out Jobseekers Discovered by Yuma, Arizona Resume Writers where it is 26% Unemployment

YPIC, Yuma, AZ Career Counselors and Resume Writers, June 2009
YPIC, Yuma, AZ Career Counselors, June 2009

By Kathryn Troutman, Certified Federal Job Search Trainer Program Director and President, The Resume Place, Inc.

At Yuma Private Industry Council, Reemployment Center, three very busy professional resume writers were telling me about their jobs in writing resumes. Their customers are the 26% unemployed “Yumans” who were not expecting to write a resume any time soon. In 2006 Yuma was written up as a Sizzing Hot Spot with NO unemployment.

This article is about some of the resume problems they see and fix at YPIC. Career professionals all over the US are working hard to help stressed-out jobseekers with resumes, so they can compete in a very tough job market.

Lori Heredia described how the jobseekers are so distraught about losing their positions that they don’t pay close attention to the details they need to write a good resume showcasing their experience and education. They have trouble remembering dates, duties and accomplishments. It’s hard to get them to concentrate.

Katie Fuchs noted that jobseekers often don’t even have a resume when they walk in the door. She interviews the jobseeker, creates the work chronology and writes draft descriptions while they wait. This is a lot of pressure to remember a career history on the spot and types it while the jobseeker tries to create and dictate job titles, companies, dates, duties.

Ralph Villa, Resume Writer and Community Outreach Coordinator / Trainer described his efficient method of writing resumes using O-Net Online to help write position descriptions because jobseekers are just not able to describe their jobs in much detail. He can find Occupations, skills and crosswalk search easily for building a better resume. This is a free program and can help a non-thinking jobseeker write about their past positions.

The YPIC has been providing professional resume writing, job search coaching, and interview preparation for the citizens of Yuma who are seeking new jobs since 1987. I was there to teach the career staff how to help the Yumans how to apply for federal jobs and write federal resumes. But we had to start with a good basic resume before we could convert that resume to a federal resume. So, we had a lot of discussion about a good resume – for private industry job searches or federal job searches.

Katie, Lori, and Ralph have discovered some major resume writing errors that are typical for a stressed-out job seeker:

Here are 10 of their Top Resume Problems that they see:


TOP TIP: START WITH A GOOD CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME. To provide the best quality resume writing services, Lori, Katie, and Ralph would like to have a good chronological listing of jobs, including employers, dates of employment, job titles, and a short position description. With this information, they can then edit, format, and develop position descriptions that are targeted toward specific positions more effectively.

1. Not Detailed Enough – Too many jobseekers don’t include the last employer’s name, specific dates, and job titles with a good position description. Many resumes are just not complete and detailed enough.

2. Functional Format is dead – HR recruiters want to see your specific job duties and accomplishments within the chronology of your positions. Even if the functional is great at highlighting your top level skills, the fact is, recruiters want to see what you did, as well as when and where.

3. Chronological with no focus – A “down the middle”, “everything” resume is okay for your starter resume, but not to submit to anyone. The reverse chronological resume (starting from your current or most recent position), is THE format you need to start with in order to build your focused resume.

4. Too many skills – You can’t do everything, and the HR recruiter isn’t going to hire someone who can “do everything”. People who say that have multiple skills, diverse skills, and will do anything are just not going to land anything. HR recruiters are not going to sit and try to figure out what your best skills are, and your highest level of skills. You have to pick your best five skills and stick with it. You can have two resumes: one with five skills; and another with five different skills.

5. Length – What is too short? One page is probably too short. Go for two pages and give the HR recruiter more details to select from. Give them some examples, details about the customers you served, and some challenges/obstacles that you overcame. Add a skills summary of your five best skills.

6. NO dates – Even if your employment chronology has problems with too many jobs, multiple or long gaps in employment dates, keep the dates and chronology in the resume. HR recruiters are getting used to gaps, multiple jobs, or too many jobs over a short amount of time. The job market isn’t like the old days where someone stayed with one company 20 years. Today, jobseekers routinely have six to eight jobs on their resume and do have some gaps. The HR recruiter is looking for the specialized experience needed for THEIR position. They can find that at any point in the resume. Just stick with the dates.

7. Too many jobs – Yes, a person can have too many jobs and raise a red flag for potential employers. You can reduce the number of positions by taking out any small jobs that you took to earn extra cash between jobs or while employed in a more permanent position, as well as any jobs that were really short term – didn’t turn out for whatever reason. The HR recruiter is looking at your major positions with some longevity. Save them time and leave out the small, short-term jobs; focus on the positions that will present your skills and experience most effectively.

8. No accomplishments – If your resume is all about your competition, your job duties, and what you were responsible for all day long, then this is not going to stand out above the other resumes that are written the same way. If you want to stand out, add two or three accomplishments that show you have initiative, new ideas, creativity, and will go the extra mile to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The supervisors LOVE this and might want to interview you.

9. Too generic – Resumes that contain no specifics about customers, programs, scope of work, dollars, or any numbers are going to put the HR specialist to sleep and your resume will just scoot over to the NO pile in one second. Not good.

10. No direction in sight – Make a decision about the direction of your job search. If your resume includes a list of various jobs with no real skills or mission direction, this could be a problem for the HR recruiter. Many resumes are just a list of various, unrelated jobs that people take to earn money. With this type of resume, it is hard for the HR recruiter to see your best skills and abilities.

To see excellent samples of resumes that feature keywords, accomplishments, details, a chronological work experience section consider this book: Resumes for Dummies, 5th Edition by Joyce Lain Kennedy. The Resume Place, Inc. produced ALL of the sample resumes in this book. Joyce writes about a Core Resume that can be refocused for each resume application with keywords, qualifications, skills. They are on-target and easily changed for each position.

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