Top résumé mistakes to avoid

While it’s true your résumé may not be the sole reason you get a job, it could be the reason you don’t get a particular job.


Superintendent examining resume
Make sure your résumé accurately communicates your strengths and professional background. Photo by Montana Pritchard

During my career as a professional in recruiting and career consulting, I have witnessed many examples of what NOT to do in the career arena — particularly with résumés. After analyzing thousands of résumés, I have found that although most professionals know the importance of a résumé, it is the most glaring example of a career tool becoming an obstacle for professionals seeking a job. 

In this month’s career column, I have highlighted common pitfalls so you can avoid them and win your next job in the golf and turf industry.

Résumé still relevant? Yes. Although now we have additional options to supplement our résumé with our online brand, portfolios, websites and social media, landing a job still requires a résumé. Last year, Gray Beltran penned an article in the New York Times titled, “The pandemic changed everything about work, except the humble résumé.” He quoted hiring experts explaining, “Hiring managers and recruiters still rely on the résumé, and it is still the standard to apply for a job and get noticed.” The golf industry is no different. 

First, do no harm. In the business of golf, where attention to detail is paramount, your career documents are an important way to demonstrate this skill. If you list “detail-oriented” on your résumé but have an error that could have easily been corrected with proofreading, what do you think the reader will believe? I recently spoke with a golf course superintendent who is at a top-50 golf course who had just received a résumé from a candidate who spelled the name of the prospective golf club wrong in the cover letter. That candidate may have been a top contender for the job, but understandably was never considered. And don’t trust spell check, since it doesn’t flag incorrect word meanings. It is true that a résumé won’t be the sole reason you get a job, but it could be the sole reason you don’t get a particular job.  

Don’t just document. Résumés are marketing tools, not just a list documenting past employers, job titles and duties. Be aware that all the other candidates will have the same, if not more, experience performing similar tasks and holding similar job titles. Instead, use the experience section of your résumé to set yourself apart. Convey your achievements and qualities that make you uniquely capable beyond turf to let the reader learn more about you as a leader and team member. And don’t list the experience section first. Instead, include a section at the top of your résumé that highlights what you have to offer, with points directly related to your target employer to get their attention quickly. 

Too much information. This one can be challenging, particularly if you have been in the golf and turf industry several decades. We are often asked by GCSAA members, “How do I condense all my experience into a one-page document? What is an acceptable length for a résumé?” The answer is based upon many factors, including years in the industry, number of past employers, professional involvement and the level of job you are seeking. Typically, one page is enough for student and assistant superintendent résumés, but once you have been in the industry for five to 10 years, it is acceptable, and probably necessary, to have a two-page résumé. 

More information is not necessarily helpful. Is it realistic to expect a hiring committee that receives 100-plus résumés to take the time to read several pages of yours? Your goal is to stand out and have them remember a few key points about how you would be a great fit with their golf facility. They won’t remember 20 things about you, so emphasize your main points and make sure they aren’t drowned out with too much text. Instead, use your portfolio to provide context and photos and expand on your story once you have gotten the attention of the committee members.   

Even in this modern age of online hiring processes, a résumé is required in virtually all professional job searches in the golf industry — so avoid these pitfalls and create a winning résumé for your next job search.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, has been a career consultant and speaker with GCSAA since 2005 and specializes in golf and turf industry careers. Rau is a frequent speaker at national, regional and local GCSAA conferences and teaches GCSAA webinars.