6 Resume Mistakes that Blue-Collar Workers can Easily Avoid

With the national unemployment rate hovering between six and eight percent, it's essential that your résumé showcases your best qualities. Even little mistakes can put you behind other job applicants. Blue-collar workers can make sure their résumés get more than a passing glance by avoiding these 6 simple mistakes.

1. Typos and Grammatical Errors

A typo tells potential employers that you don't pay attention to details. It doesn't matter whether you want a job driving a bus or installing cable television, details always matter.

Unfortunately, typos are easy to make. Everyone does it, including professional writers. Make sure to proofread your résumé several times, so you can catch any typos or grammatical errors. It also helps to ask someone to read the résumé for you. A fresh pair of eyes can catch mistakes that you'll never see. Try to find someone who has editing experience. It could be a friend, a former teacher, or a proofreader you hire. Some websites can also help you catch spelling and grammar problems.

When you hand your résumé to a company's human resource manager, he or she will notice that you took a few minutes to double-check everything, helping you stand out as the kind of person who always pays attention to the details.

The opposite is also true. If you submit a résumé full of typos and grammatical mistakes, the manager will think that you don't care about getting the job, meaning your résumé will probably end up filed in the trash.

2. Not Customized for the Specific Job

A lot of people use the same résumé every time they apply for a job, no matter the industry. Not customizing your résumé to the job description you're applying for can come across as laziness to potential employers. It makes sense to write a new résumé for each job application you submit. By doing so, you can show potential employers why they need to hire you for this specific position.

Experienced human resource managers can spot cookie cutter résumés, and they often put those applicants at the bottom of the pile. They want to see how your past experience applies to the job they need to fill. Put yourself in the manager's shoes. Would you want to hire someone who turns in the same résumé for a construction job as a truck driving job? Those positions require different skills. Take this opportunity to customize your résumé, so you can show why you're the best person to hire.

3. Focuses on Past Responsibilities Instead of Accomplishments

Your résumé shouldn't read like a list of job positions that other companies wanted to fill. Unfortunately, that's what it looks like when you list your previous job responsibilities instead of your accomplishments.

Just because your last job required good communication skills doesn't mean that you have good communication skills. Perhaps you lost the job because you couldn't fulfill that aspect of the position. Responsibilities are only impressive when you show how you fulfilled them through your accomplishments.

Instead of writing that your last job "required good customer service skills," point to an accomplishment like "received highest customer service reviews three months in a row." If you had a job that required a lot of organizing, don't tell potential employers that it "required good organizational skills." Instead, tell them that you "organized three years of backlogged customer reports." It's a subtle difference, but careful managers will spot it.

4. Strange Font or Color

If you're desperate to make your résumé stand out, you might consider using a strange font or color. But using unique fonts and colors is not the proper way to get a potential employer's attention. Many managers find this unprofessional, and the last thing they want is to hire an unprofessional person. For this reason, stay away from decorative fonts, and always use black ink. 

If you plan to email or upload your résumé, you have another important reason to use a standard font and color. Not everyone has word processing programs with the same fonts. If a manager's computer can't understand the font you use, you risk your résumé being illegible and, therefore, useless to the manager.

5. Doesn't Include Related Skills and Training

man working on wiring

Image via Flickr by CoCreatr

You probably have skills that you didn't use at your previous job. If you worked as a plumber, you probably didn't have to use a computer very often. But if you're using one now, you've obviously developed that skill. A lot of employers want to make sure incoming workers are computer literate. Make sure you list computer experience if it applies to the job you want.

You should also list any training or certifications that you have. Your résumé shows that you had a job working as a plumber, but it should also show that you received training for the job. If you attended any classes, you should put them on your résumé. Certifications will make you a leading candidate for many blue-collar jobs. Employers don't want to spend money training new hires. If you already have certification showing that you can do the job, be sure to include it on your résumé.

6. Doesn't Start Strong

A manager with 100 résumés doesn't want to read every word of every page. If your résumé starts out slow, then it could get tossed in the recycling bin before it even gets the chance to display your skills and accomplishments.

Make sure the first section of your résumé grabs and compels the reader to continue with the rest. Many experts recommend starting your résumé with an "objectives" section that highlights your best traits. This is the first place to tell readers about your certifications, accomplishments, and experience. You should also try to include industry keywords that show you're a professional. Keep it brief by only including your career highlights. The rest of the résumé can fill in the details.

It's important to apply to jobs that you possess the necessary skills and experience for, but you can further your chances of getting your foot in the door by avoiding these résumé mistakes. Do you think these mistakes have kept you from getting a job before? How do you plan to make your résumé better?

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans

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