Some resume mistakes are so bad that you must never commit them. Please. The ones that always set me off are:
- Multiple pages. I've have reviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes, and in all those examples I have seen only one multi-page resume come with a strong candidate behind it. All the other ones, the ones where people list every class project, or every club they've been in, or the names of all their teachers in high school? Worthless. Take the time to distill your education and experience into the points that can be expressed in a single page of text. If you can't get it down that far, hand a draft to one of your editors and ask them what's least interesting.
- Spelling mistakes. See my earlier comments about having several other people read your resume before you share it with any companies you're interested in. When I see a really egregious spelling mistake, I will discard the resume completely.
- Using the Microsoft Word resume template. First off, the template just doesn't look that great, and second, it sends the message "I just put this together in five minutes because that's about how much I care about your company. Please pretend not to notice." I accept that page layout can be hard, but if you can't create something that looks decent, ask a friend for help. The layout for my first resume came from a good friend who actually has a talent for these things, and I used it successfully for the next several years.
- A non-CS undergraduate degree followed by a CS Master's degree from either (a) a no-name computer science program, of (b) a top-tier school that is known to be a diploma mill for anyone with the money to buy a degree. I'm not naming names here, but you know who you are.
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