Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid
You have been applying like crazy for jobs, but it seems as if all of your applications have vanished into thin air without any result. It’s likely that your resume has mistakes that are causing fatal errors and in a competitive job market, having a resume that works for you is important.
Think your resume is perfect and waterproof? Even the most experienced personnel themselves are guilty of making resume mistakes. Even if you are qualified, a little resume mistake could mean the difference between a missed opportunity and a job-landing interview.
With only mere seconds to thrill a recruiter, having any mistake on your resume isn’t a risk any daring job seeker should take because your resume is the first point of contact you have with a prospective employer, so you would like that first impression to be a clear demonstration of just how awesome you’re at what you do. That’s how you ace an interview and get a job.
You may ask, does it matter if there is a mistake on your resume? It does. In fact, the fastest way to get rejected as an applicant is to submit a flawed resume.
Your resume is one of the major ways hiring managers assess you as a candidate and grammatical errors can make you look unprofessional and unqualified.
Another big mistake is submitting a resume that does not match the role you are applying for.
An effective resume includes killer content, an attractive design, and consistent formatting because careless mistakes and general sloppiness can harm your chances of making it to the interview, even if you’re qualified for the role.
What is included in a resume?
Typically, resumes follow a general format of summarizing your professional profile, your work history, education, and any volunteering or internship experience you’ve got.
When writing your resume, consider sticking with this layout and include skills relevant to the role you’re applying to. It is common to incorporate current contact information, lists of accomplishments both within your professional and academic background sections as well as a professional email address.
If you would like your application to get the attention it deserves, avoid these cringe-worthy mistakes.
- Including a resume objective rather than a professional profile
Be sure to include a brief professional profile. If you’ve got little work experience, include your career objectives but relate how achieving your professional goal can benefit the organization you want to work with.
While resume objectives can be important and show how you set career goals, prospective employers are looking for what you can do for them and how you will fit the role. Your professional profile serves this purpose as a resume objective only highlights what you hope to accomplish. If you want to include your career objective, connect it to how accomplishing your goals will apply to the role.
- Unrelated work experience
When writing your resume, list work experience, and skills that are specifically related to the role you’re applying to. Your work experience should show the skills and achievements that the hiring manager would see you can bring to their own organization. If your past roles appear unrelated, you would possibly consider listing just skills and accomplishments which will be relevant to the role instead of all the responsibilities that you had.
For example, if you’re applying to a customer service role, but your experience is restricted to working as a cashier, rather than listing details about running a register, you might highlight how you interacted with and helped customers.
- Not providing enough detail or being vague on details
Typically, when professional experience is listed on a resume, it should include close to five details that showcase how you were successful in your last role. Including less detail than this might make a prospective employer look past your resume as it does not give them enough evidence to know if you’re a good fit for their company. When listing your experience, you want to show both what you’ve done and what you’ve achieved using action verbs. Not everyone has awards, and most employers do not expect them. However, if you’ve helped create value, cut costs, reduced inefficiency, or increased sales, make sure to mention it. When unsure, keep it simple and be specific by using data and metrics.
- Too many unnecessary details
Knowing which details to remove can be tough but start by removing any information that is irrelevant to the job description. Extraneous information includes professional and academic experiences that don’t apply to the position. This “embellishment” won’t aid you in securing the role, and it can obscure your relevant experience and credentials.
Again, try to customize your resume each time you apply for any job. Look at the job description and include the skills and work experience it calls for. This will require editing each resume, but the extra time will pay off because a well-tailored resume shows initiative.
- No references or too many references
Not adding your professional references could cause employers to pass up your application, but having too many references can also influence how your employer looks at your resume. Typically, most employers might look for close to three professional references and be sure your connections are individuals with whom you’ve interacted within a professional setting.
You can include past colleagues, supervisors, or clients that can give positive feedback about your work ethic or other information should your prospective employer contact them. Additionally, avoid using family members or friends as your professional references. Similarly, if you’re leaving out a reference section, avoid stating that you will provide them upon request. This statement can appear redundant to a prospective employer.
Here’s another method to make your resume short and sweet: don’t include an inventory of references. Type them out on a separate sheet of paper, ready to submit if the hiring manager requests them later. Of course, read the job description carefully to see if the employer wants references along with your resume. In that case, include them.
- Irrelevant skills to the job role
Listing skills that are irrelevant to the role may lead to a hiring manager overlooking your application. You can avoid this mishap by including your skills which will be directly applicable to the role.
- Using a generic resume for all of your applications
When you’re preparing to apply for a job, remind yourself that there’s a hiring manager somewhere with a huge pile of resumes to review, many of which look alike. So when submitting job applications, it’s important to format your resume in order that it relates specifically to the role you’re applying for. If you use the same resume for every job application you submit, you may appear unconcerned about the job. You can avoid this error by adjusting your resume to suit each job description. It may take a bit of work, but writing a targeted resume can make prospective employers really know how you fit the position.
Make sure you write your resume so it shows your prospective employer that you’re ready to set the ball rolling as regards the role if hired. It should show you’ve read the job description, meet the barest qualifications, and can perform the duty.
Pinpoint specific previous experience that aligns with the job description and add data from your work experience to show how your work has helped past employers.
- Outdated, incorrect, or missing contact information
The aim of a resume is to land you an interview. If you’re missing important contact information, or the contact information you’ve included is incorrect, you’re making it difficult for hiring managers to get in touch with you. Also, if you are not detailed enough to supply the right contact information, what does that say about how well you’ll do on the job if hired?
Also, be conscious of the format you use to arrange your contact information on your resume and never add your contact information to the Header portion of a Word document or paste your contact information in form of a picture. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) cannot read that information and may list your contact details as missing or incomplete.
Ensure all of your contact information is updated, your telephone number should be reachable, and your address should be your current place of residence.
- Including outdated or irrelevant information
If you’ve got information that’s outdated or irrelevant on your resume, your resume will likely enter the trash. Avoid including your age, hobbies, or legal status on your resume — this sort of data says that you aren’t up to date with today’s resume writing standards. It also sets you up to be eliminated for discriminatory reasons associated with age and gender. Typically, unless it’s relevant to the role, it doesn’t belong on your resume.
- Format and/or design is too elaborate
When it involves your resume format, less is more. Stick to a resume design that has white space and makes it easy for the hiring manager or anyone to quickly skim through your information and have a clear knowledge of your career story. The more elaborate your resume format is, the more likely recruiters are going to be forced to search for the information they want, and therefore the more likely they will skip over your application altogether.
- Describing job duties rather than professional accomplishments
Job duties are often shared among related fields, but your accomplishments allow prospective employers to ascertain how you’ll benefit their company also how dedicated you are to your work. While you’ll include specific and relevant job duties you were liable for, connect those details to an achievement that will show the hiring manager how your performance influenced, impacted, and benefited your past employers directly.
A hiring manager will want to see the results you’ve achieved in your past positions, as it shows you have the potential to do well in the position for which they’re trying to fill. Results are quantifiable results which could be in form of business growth numbers, increased sales, improved retention stats, proven return on investment, and so on. Without demonstrating or providing quantifiable results, it’d appear that you simply had “responsibilities,” yet didn’t take initiative or achieve actual results.
- A resume is too long or too short
Generally, resumes have one or two pages and so having one either too short or long can have a negative impact on how a prospective employer views your application. If you’ve got a lot of work history, you would possibly format your resume in two pages or less, but if you’re a fresh graduate or have limited professional experience, it’s best you stick to one page for your resume. Unless you’ve got seven or more years of experience and a couple of jobs under your belt, keeping the document to at least one page is better. Avoid a ridiculously long resume because hiring managers and interviewers do not like it and they take offense to it. It shows that you simply don’t consider or value their time, thus causing yourself to be disqualified from consideration.
- Grammatical and formatting errors
It is imperative to scan every spelling, grammar, or punctuation error before submitting your resume. Likewise, you would want to make sure you’ve formatted your resume in a professional manner with clean lines and readable font, also ensuring you haven’t made your resume too elaborate. You have to avoid bright colors which will take the focus far away from the content in your resume. Consider a basic font like Times New Roman or Calibri, and stick with black ink because using thick blocks of text or many bullets points in your resume can overwhelm a recruiter. Instead, use a mixture of short paragraphs to explain your duties and bullet points to showcase your relevant credentials, contributions, and achievements. By the time you finish writing, editing, and tweaking your resume, it is easy to overlook misspellings and grammatical errors. However, those mistakes can make you look careless to a hiring manager. Correctable slipups send the message to prospective employers that you lack attention to detail and don’t check your work. It’s a surefire way to harm your chances of getting the job you want.
Good writers know everyone needs an editor because the best way to combat spelling and other errors is to have someone qualified go through your resume. You can also ask a family member or friend to go over your resume and pick out any errors. To a fresh set of eyes, spelling mistakes and grammar issues will leap off the page and a second opinion is often invaluable on your resume.
In addition, try printing your resume out first before submitting or employing a free tool like Grammarly to scan your resume for spelling mistakes that spell check won’t detect.
- Using an unprofessional email address
Use a professional-looking email address that has either your first name and surname or a variation of it. When you include your professional email address, your resume will appear formal and professional. An unprofessional email address is highly inappropriate if it contains profane or provocative language. You don’t need a hiring manager to overlook your qualifications because he or she got to your“hottie hippy” email address.
- Including salary requirements
You may be looking for a certain salary, however, including this detail in your resume might not be an efficient choice because doing so may turn off any prospective employer, especially if they cannot pay the amount you are aiming for. The best way to avoid this error is to take it out of your resume completely.
- No keywords insight or obvious keyword stuffing
In some industries and organizations, your resume needs to go through hoops before a human ever sees it. When they are overwhelmed by resumes from job seekers, hiring managers may use some software to discard unqualified candidates and pinpoint those whose resumes contain the right keywords. An applicant tracking system (ATS) will go through your resume, looking for key items like the title of the job or specific skills.
Once the ATS spots these keywords on your resume, you’ll be ranked higher, which improves the chances a hiring manager will see it. To maximize your chances of being seen, concentrate on the wording of the job description and put it in your resume whenever possible.
It’s important to incorporate keywords in your resume so as to scale through the applicant tracking software (ATS) recruiters use to scan and comb out unqualified candidates. However, you have to make sure you’re using the keywords in a way that flows naturally. If you deliberately stuff keywords into your resume or use a bunch of excessive buzzwords, it’ll be obvious to the hiring manager and not to mention a big turnoff. Use keywords wisely and add them to your resume so that they are meaningful and flow naturally.
- Listing hobbies unrelated to the job
If your hobbies are associated with the role, like participating in weekly fundraiser events for a nonprofit organization, you would possibly include a little section showcasing this. Prospective employers tend to look past your hobbies in any case, but listing how you like to gather stamps can risk a hiring manager rejecting your application completely. Unless it can show how your personal interests relate to and benefit your career path, it’s ok to leave them out.
- Attaching a photo of yourself
While some industries may find it acceptable to include a headshot on a resume, it may not be in your best interest to include your photo on your resume. Not only will a photo take up space, but it also risks employers passing over your application so they can avoid the distraction or being discriminatory appearances.
Unless you’re an actor or there’s another clear reason as to why you should include a headshot on your resume, it’s better you leave it out. It’s an uncommon practice to include a headshot or any image of any sort in your resume as it could come across as egotistical if you do include one.
- Missing cover letter
No application is complete without a well-written cover letter. Use this document to show that you’ve researched the role and can demonstrate why you are a high-quality candidate. Your cover letter serves as an invitation to review your resume, so make it an attractive one. Your resume then completes the package, offering details that back up the pitch in your cover letter, and separating you from your competition. Finding a position you’re qualified for is only the first step. Your next job is to make the best possible case for yourself. While these common mistakes could be easily remedied, you would possibly consider having a friend or loved one go over your resume to make sure you have avoided any errors. Doing so will make the hiring manager see what matters most which are your relevant experience and qualifications rather than being distracted by unprofessional, yet easily avoidable, mistakes.
How to avoid Resume Mistakes
Before you send your resume to the hiring manager, you have to confirm it’s polished. Here’s how:
Reread and edit your resume
Make sure you read your resume over before submitting it for an application. However, it’s very hard to catch your own mistakes. Most times, people see what they intended to type and not necessarily what’s actually on the page.
To catch mistakes, read your resume and other application documents from the bottom up or from the last page back to the first page.
Rereading your documents aloud also can help you catch errors.
Ask a friend
It is always a good idea to ask a friend or family member to look over your application before submitting it. Unlike you, they will be looking at your materials with a fresh set of eyes and may spot errors you did not.
Utilize online resources.
You can use Microsoft Word’s checker first, then sign up for a free trial of Grammarly to catch the rest of your errors.