Writing an effective résumé can certainly be challenging. There are numerous rules and none of them apply 100% of time. It is often much easier for people to craft their document if they understand boundaries within which they will need to operate 100% of time - mistakes that should never be made and will brand a job-seeker as unprofessional. Eliminating all of these errors from your résumé will go a long way in improving your chances of securing an interview.
1. "Responsible for..."
The Problem: This is one of most common, and most amateurish, résumé errors. There is no greater example of weak, passive writing than overused "responsible for." There are two base reasons why this phrase is to be avoided. The first is that it is already understood that information included in your résumé are activities that you were responsible for; this is equivalent of writing "we cook..." before an item listed in a restaurant menu. The second reason is what I alluded to above: "responsible for" is passive, bland, and boring. It does nothing to draw in reader, and demonstrates no specific or relevant skill. With average résumé being read in approximately seven seconds, first word or two in each sentence is absolutely critical because it is information that will be read first and most. Whether anything else in a given sentence will be read at all entirely depends on if first couple of words strike a chord with reader. If hiring manager holding your résumé does not spot keywords of interest in those vital locations, then entire résumé is probably going in trash, no matter how great rest of your information is.
The Solution: A great way to test quality of a résumé is to read just first word in each sentence, and see what image those words build of you as an employee. If your first words consist of "responsible for", "helped", "handled", or other passive language, then you're not creating a powerful or compelling first impression. Open each and every sentence with a power verb that is relevant to job you are applying for. Words such as "manage", "direct", "administer", and "process" can often be used to replace "responsible for", and are far more effective.
2. Using a paragraph format.
The Problem: As mentioned above, average résumé is read in approximately seven seconds. In those precious few seconds, hiring manager will skim through your entire document and determine if you possess qualifications needed for job. If your information is organized in long, dense paragraphs that are difficult to read quickly, they are most likely not going to be read at all. Think of your résumé as a shopping spree... if you have only seven seconds within which to conduct your shopping spree, which would you rather be faced with: an enormous pile of products where it is impossible to discern what each individual product is without an in-depth perusal, or an organized, easy-to-navigate row of products that are displayed independently so that you can easily see what each is? Remember, you have only seven seconds. I think we'd all agree that it is much easier, when on limited time, to approach information that is already parsed out for us. Paragraphs are intimidating to eye and for hiring manager who has literally hundreds of other applicants to choose from, loss of one whose document is difficult to read is not going to be a consideration.
The Solution: Create brief, bulleted statements. Each statement should focus on one particular skill and be no more than two lines in length.
The Problem: It is not uncommon for people, in an attempt to not overlook anything, to mention same skills multiple times within same résumé. This creates a boring, stale document in which heavily repeated skills overshadow everything else. In addition to this, repetition contributes to excess length; again, we come back to that same seven seconds. Let's say, for example, that in your resume you want to list skills A, B, C, and D. If you do just that, then it is easy to identify all of those skills in seven seconds. If, however, your résumé lists A, B, A, A, B, B, B, C, A, C, B, A, A, C, B, D, C, A... suddenly, your qualifications are not as obvious and one - D - could very easily be overlooked.