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5 Critical Resume Mistakes Non-Native English Speakers Should Avoid!

These 5 Mistakes May Be The Reason You Are Not Getting Interviews!

When it comes to assessing resumes submitted by non-native English speakers, certain recurring errors often catch our attention. These mistakes can determine whether your resume lands in the 'yes' or 'no' pile. However, by adhering to essential rules and guidelines before even starting to write, you significantly enhance your chances of not only getting your resume noticed but also ensuring it's thoroughly read and considered by the right individuals.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into these 5 most common pitfalls and provide actionable solutions to assist non-native English speakers in effectively showcasing their qualifications.

#1 - Including Unnecessary Skills and Flowery Language

Non-native speakers often fall into the trap of including every skill and detail they can think of in their resumes. This is similar to writing an exam where you're unsure of the answer and try to provide multiple variations in the hope of scoring more points.

However, a resume is not an exam, and it's essential to remember that quality matters more than quantity.


Focus on Relevant Skills for This Job

When writing your resume, it's essential to focus on the skills that directly match the job requirements.

Avoid listing skills that are too generic or obvious

Instead of: "Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite," consider: "Advanced skills in Excel for data analysis."

Get Rid of the Big English Words

Use clear and concise language to communicate your skills and experiences.

Avoid overly complex or flowery language.

Instead of: "Utilized my adept problem-solving skills," Use: "Applied strong problem-solving abilities."


#2 - Including Over-Complicated Language

Your resume should mirror the way you speak and include words that come naturally to you. Trying to impress with overly complex vocabulary or formal language can often lead to confusion and may even deter recruiters from reading your resume.


Remember Authenticity

Write in a language and tone that you are comfortable with.

Instead of: "I employed my language proficiency to orchestrate a harmonious collaboration among the team members."Consider this: "I used my language skills to ensure effective teamwork among the team members."

Use Your Natural Language

Be yourself and use words you would typically use in a conversation.

Chose Clarity

Emphasize clarity and simplicity in your writing.

Instead of: 'I endeavored to fabricate an innovative solution utilizing cutting-edge technology,' you can write 'I worked to create a new solution using advanced technology.'"

Write Short Simple Sentences

Avoid overly complex sentence structures and terminology that might confuse the reader.

Instead of 'Employing an amalgamation of multifaceted methodologies, I precipitated a paradigm shift in our company's operational framework,' you can write 'By using various methods, I improved our company's operations.'"

Always Focus on Achievements

Strip your achievements down to the minimum words necessary.

Instead of 'I was responsible for the implementation of a comprehensive marketing strategy that led to a substantial increase in market share,' you can write 'Implemented successful marketing strategy, boosting market share.'"


#3 - Focusing on Responsibilities instead of Achievements

The third critical mistakes that job seekers, especially non-native English speakers, often make on their resumes is focusing too much on listing their job responsibilities rather than highlighting their achievements. This is a common error that can significantly reduce the impact of your resume.

When you emphasize your job responsibilities, you're essentially providing a job description that any candidate in a similar position would have. Recruiters are already aware of these responsibilities, as they are usually standard for the role. However, what sets you apart from other candidates is not what you were supposed to do, but how well you did it and the tangible results you achieved.


Quantify Your Achievements

Whenever possible, use specific numbers or data to quantify your accomplishments.

For example, instead of saying you "improved customer satisfaction," say you "increased customer satisfaction by 20% within six months."

Use Action Words to Start

Start your achievement statements with action verbs to make them more dynamic and engaging.

For instance, "Led a cross-functional team to streamline processes and reduce costs by 15%."

Tailor Achievements to the Job

Align your achievements with the specific requirements of the job you're applying for. Customize your resume to showcase the achievements most relevant to the position.


#4 - Picking "Busy" Resume Templates

Overly visual resume templates may seem appealing, but they can actually complicate the reader's experience. Instead, opt for a clean and easy-to-read format that highlights your qualifications effectively.


Templates do Matter

Choose a template that is professional and straightforward.

Simple Text Reads Better

Avoid excessive graphics, colors, or fonts that can distract from your content.

Bullet Points are Key

Use bullet points to create a structured and organized format that makes it easier for recruiters to extract information quickly.

Remember the point of this document is to show your authority in the clearest way possible.


#5 - Not Deciding on Your Rules Before You Write

Before you begin writing your resume, it's crucial to decide on the rules you'll follow for punctuation, date formats, capitalization, and more. Consistency in these aspects will make your resume look more professional and polished. One of the (many) awkward things about writing a resume is that there is no universal set of formatting rules, but if you do not format the document in the same way throughout, it will look very odd.


Punctuation and Full Stops

Decide whether to use full stops consistently at the end of bullet points or phrases in your resume for uniformity.

Ensure Heading Consistency

Ensure your subheadings and main headings are of the same size and formatting throughout your resume.

Uniformity in Presenting Past Roles

Decide if you'll include the city and country for all your past roles and maintain consistency in their presentation.

Use One Date Format

Determine how you'll format dates, whether as "Jan," "Feb," "Mar," or in full "January," "February," "March."

Consider listing the month first, followed by the year consistently, like "January 2022."

Select Capitalization Rules

Set rules for capitalizing job roles and company names before you start.

For instance, you might choose to capitalize job roles and use lowercase for company names consistently.

Use Consistent Bullet Points Throughout

Ensure all bullet points are aligned uniformly throughout your resume.


Simplifying your resume as a non-native English speaker can significantly enhance your job prospects. By concentrating on relevant skills, using your natural language, streamlining your format, and prioritizing quality over quantity while adhering to standardized formatting rules, you'll create a resume that effectively communicates your qualifications and helps you progress toward your career goals. Remember, clarity and simplicity are your greatest assets in this endeavor.

Greetings, I'm Camilla Vander M, a top communications and interview coach with a track record of guiding 3000+ candidates to interview success. With a Drama and Production background and extensive experience in government and private sectors across Africa and the Middle East, I offer a distinct approach to enhancing professional communication.

Based in Abu Dhabi, I'm dedicated to empowering individuals to excel in job interviews and presentations. My personalized coaching builds confidence, showcases strengths, and targets improvement areas. I'm a firm believer in everyone having the skills to convey qualifications with confidence. My adaptable methods suit all accents and cultures, fostering a unique communication style aligned with individual skills and experiences.

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