Seven Common Resume Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
The experiences you have throughout your career -- the positions that you hold, your accomplishments, and the skills that you acquire along the way are all what sets you aside from the competition. But how you showcase this information can be just as important. That’s why knowing how to appropriately include all of these elements in your resume is crucial. Check out our tips below on how to avoid seven common resume mistakes.
Using the same resume for each prospective role
One of the most common mistakes candidates make when applying to a new position is reusing the same resume over and over again. Think about it this way -- with a “one-resume-fits-all” approach, you’re showing recruiters and hiring managers that you want a job, but you’re not necessarily showing them you want a specific job.
While it’s true that your experiences or skills will not drastically change depending on the different roles you apply to, the way you present information can and should change. This doesn’t mean recreating a new resume for each role, but tailoring your resume for each job you apply to can outline specific skills and experiences related to the role and shows you have taken the time to learn more about the organization and the position itself.
Not catching typos or grammar and spelling mistakes
While these mistakes aren’t intentional, submitting a resume with typos or grammar and spelling errors can say a lot about you as a candidate. It can suggest you do not have the proper attention to detail or writing skills needed for the position, or maybe you just don’t care enough about the role to take the time to proofread your materials. In addition, typos or mistakes in your contact information could specifically limit your chances of landing an interview simply because the hiring manager or recruiter might not be able to reach you with the wrong information.
Don’t just skim through your resume to proofread it, but go through line-by-line to ensure you have not missed any of these mistakes. Try reading your resume aloud or use your computer’s text-to-speech feature to listen to what you have written. After looking through your resume for yourself, ask a trusted friend or colleague to read through it again. Sometimes while reading the same information over and over again it can be easy to overlook a mistake, so having a second set of eyes to look it over or listening to it can be beneficial.
Using a resume that is too long or too short
While a one-page resume has long been considered the norm for most positions, more and more recruiters and hiring managers are letting go of this myth. Still, the typical resume should be at least one full page and not exceed more than two pages. Having a resume that is too long or too short might mean you’re either including information that is not relevant to the job in question or you’re underselling your skills and experiences.
For a resume that exceeds the expected length based on your experience level, you may need to reevaluate whether or not all of the information is relevant to include. Reread the job description and compare it to your resume. If there are repetitive sections or unnecessary skills and experiences listed, it would be best to cut those sections out.
On the other hand, a short resume can indicate you do not have the right skills or experiences for the role in question. Of course, in this case, it would never be appropriate to fabricate your experiences or skills or include irrelevant information in order to fill space. However, for entry-level applicants or recent graduates that do not have much professional experience to show, it can be beneficial to include volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and even relevant coursework or academic projects in order to appropriately outline your skillset.
Not formatting your resume for applicant tracking systems
Before your resume reaches a human, it’s possible that it will be filtered through an applicant tracking system (ATS). This technology is responsible for sorting through resumes, screening questions, and cover letters to sort through applicants and pull the information from these hiring materials. While some recruiters and hiring managers will still manually look over resumes, an ATS essentially helps identify the initial top candidates. However, in order for an ATS to pick up on keywords, years of experience, skills, etc, resumes need to be properly formatted in order for the computer system to easily read all of the presented information.
Using graphics or symbols, images, and multiple columns on your resume can all throw off ATSs. Therefore, in order to ensure your resume has a chance of actually being seen by a hiring manager or recruiter, avoid these elements altogether. Keep your resume simple with appropriate margins, columns, a standard font, and do not include any images or unnecessary symbols or graphics.
Using a resume that is visually unappealing or hard to read
In the event that a prospective employer does not use an ATS, or your resume successfully makes it through, you still want to make sure your resume is visually appealing and easy to read for the person looking at it. Just because your resume has all of the right skills and experiences required for the job doesn’t mean you’re automatically in for an interview. If your resume appears to be confusing or the hiring manager or recruiter can not locate certain highlights with a quick skim, you might need to reevaluate some design and formatting elements.
While creative fields such as graphic design or media may encourage colors and designs on your resume, know how and when to incorporate these elements into your resume so that they are not overpowering. For most resumes, sticking with a simple black font on a white background is the safest way to ensure your resume will be easy to read and not be distracting. In addition, be sure to use words to list your skills, rather than ambiguous visuals or symbols that could have different meanings to different people.
Listing your responsibilities rather than accomplishments
It’s important that recruiters and hiring managers have a good idea of your past duties and responsibilities at previous positions. Explaining what you did at each role can showcase your skills and prove that you are capable of completing similar tasks in a new role. However, explaining the specifics of your accomplishments or the differences you made in each role can be even more compelling. Giving exact descriptions of your achievements shows that you have a proven track record of success and are capable of becoming a valuable team member in any position. Additionally, some responsibilities for certain job titles may be self-explanatory and listing out each of your responsibilities can get repetitive.
The easiest way to spruce up your role summaries is to quantify your experiences and give exact measurements in regard to your success. Did you increase retention rates by a valuable percentage? Save a certain dollar amount across departments? Improve engagement across social media platforms? Including specific details about your accomplishments shows you took initiative when it came to your role and didn’t just get through the day by completing your expected duties.
Including too many keywords
You want your resume to include certain keywords specific to the job description but you don’t want to overuse these words. Your resume might make it through an ATS because all of your listed skills and experiences match with the job description, but when a person looks at your resume and sees the same, it might be obvious that you were filling in these words where they weren’t actually needed. In addition, using words from the job description that you’re not actually familiar with can sound unnatural and be a clear indicator you’re not actually qualified for the role.
Instead, only use keywords that you’re familiar with and only when they naturally fit into your highlighted experiences, skills, etc. This will show you are qualified for the position at hand without trying to overcompensate or fabricate your abilities. It can also be a simple way to reiterate the fact that you have made a unique resume for the application and have taken the time to proofread the content so that it is an accurate representation of you as a candidate.
Looking for a position to submit your newly perfected resume? Check out Nexus’ list of available jobs or contact us today to learn more about our personalized recruitment services. Our team of experienced hiring experts are excited to get started on finding your perfect match!
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