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6 common mistakes made in resumes and how to avoid them
Sometimes it feels like just writing a job application and resume is an achievement. However, dashing them out and sending them off without double and triple checking can be a recipe for disaster that only adds time and frustration to your job hunt, decreasing your likelihood of actually getting called for an interview.
As recruiters, we’ve seen it all: from unprofessional pictures to incorrectly addressed cover letters, completely copy-and-pasted applications to file formats that don’t open. To prove that you’ve got commitment and attention to detail, here are some common errors to avoid.
Section one: Typos
Tip: It may sound obvious, but mistakes creep in. Even when you’ve been extremely careful, you may find errors slipping into your resume. There may be all sorts of reasons for mistakes – but employers will read it as a lack of attention – and don’t forget that error-free written communication is a transferable job skill. If this is something you struggle with, get a trusted friend or family member to check it over, and download the free app Grammarly for an extra layer of protection.
Punctuation, spelling, grammar and more. Proofread carefully. Read it out loud. If you stumble or run out of breath, your brain is telling you. Trust what you’ve heard and review it again.
– Gayle Howard, Certified Master Resume Writer
Section two: Using a one-size-fits-all approach
Tip: It can be tempting to blanket bomb recruiters or potential employers with identical resumes that talk broadly about your efficiency, passion or communication skills. Instead, it’s important to closely echo the language of the job description, tailoring each application to match the company and the role. For instance, an account manager role in a corporate environment will require a different kind of application from a similar role in a small agency.
To make your resume stand out to screeners, you must tailor it for each role and make sure the first page captures attention immediately with all the essential information the employer requires.
– Jane Jackson, Career Management Coach and Best-Selling Author
Section three: Making it too long
Tip: Our attention spans are limited, and recruiters and hiring managers are pressed for time. Making them wade through pages of text to find out whether you’re the right fit for the job will likely result in a rejection. While you could combat this by putting all the best bits at the top, a more appropriate plan is to trim any extraneous information from your resume until you’re left with as lean a document as possible. This might mean cutting irrelevant or older roles and choosing your words carefully for maximum impact.
Place your achievements at the very top and front of the CV as most recruiters give CVs only a few minutes each of attention. The best way to do this is to start with a brief business profile that gives an overview of specific, objective achievements.
– Mandy Johnson, Best-Selling Author, Speaker, and Business Advisor
Section four: Using fluffy language
Tip: Resumes are about who you are as a potential employee and should be based on fact. Where you studied, who you’ve worked for and what you’ve achieved. Interviews are the time for your personality to shine through; resumes are all about what you’ve done, so keep the language tight and practical. That doesn’t mean come across like a robot, but staying on point and getting your skills across in a simple, effective manner is key here: make sure every word and sentence in your resume is justified. There’s even an app for that.
Just because someone says they are a team player doesn’t make them one. Get rid of subjective, cliché-ridden drivel.
– Mandy Johnson, Best Selling Author, Speaker, and Business Advisor
Section five: Using an inappropriate email address
Tip: Picture this: a hiring manager has your resume in a stack on their desk. They’ve picked you and a handful of others to shortlist. They go to contact you, and the email address you’ve left is ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. It might make them rethink who they’ve chosen for an interview – and whether you’re professional enough for the role. Another no-no when including an email address is to use your current work address: it’s indiscreet and would give a hiring manager pause for thought. Instead, use a email@example.com style address. If you’re serious about investing in your personal brand, you can even buy your own domain name and set up an email account.
Section six: Making it too busy
Tip: As you trim the fat from your writing, you should also be keeping an eye on how your resume looks. It’s important that it’s readable – that is, streamlined and not busy. Use bullet points and clearly delineated sections to make your information easy to read and parse. Be sure to pick a neutral, easy-to-read font.
Don't compose long, boring blocks of text in the descriptions of your experience! Summarise each role with one or two concise sentences and use bullet points to list your specific responsibilities and achievements.
– Aziza Green, Digital Marketing Pro
For more resume advice and tips, check out our other articles here.