15 Resume Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs
Fix these popular resume errors and enjoy a spotless resume
Our blog is constantly sharing helpful tips on what sections to include on your resume, where to put your accomplishments and even what language to use. But when it comes to resumes, it’s equally important to know what NOT to do. Oftentimes, a tiny mistake done of carelessness or lack of information can spoil a great impression you were trying so hard to construct.
There are 15 common things that serve as ‘red flags’ for the hiring managers and recruiters. Some of them aren’t critical, whereas others are absolute no-no’s. Yet, we recommend that you avoid these issues whatsoever – it will increase your chances for quality interviews dramatically. Don’t believe us? Correct your resume using the tips below and make sure.
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When it comes to resume development, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Each career situation is unique, and what may come across as a mistake in one case can actually benefit in another. That’s why we are advocates of one-on-one resume writing help. Our company staffs amazing American and British resume writers with years of experience and relevant certifications. Contact us, and we’ll create a resume that reflects your career goals and shows off your value to target employers.
Most popular resume flags to watch out for
Writing curriculum vitae mistakes, employment gaps and the wrong length are known as popular resume deal-breaker. But, the issues that sabotage the resume success are not limited to them. Watch out for the signs as follows – and correct them immediately.
1. Including a headshot
We believe that you look great on that picture, but the resume isn’t the best place to show it off. You may believe that adding a picture humanizes your application and makes it more personal. But, in fact, hiring managers can discriminate you based on your appearance, whether consciously or not. That’s why the best strategy is to leave it out whatsoever. The only exception is when you apply for a position where the hiring decision is made based on your appearance. Such jobs include acting, TV news reporting, etc.
2. Using a casual email address
One study revealed that 76% of resumes get discarded because of an unprofessional email. Whether you’re a student trying to get a job after graduation or an experienced pro, you should take this piece of advice into account. Save your old email that sounds like “firstname.lastname@example.org” for personal purposes, and set up a new one for professional correspondence. A good email address should consist of your first and second names, i.e. “email@example.com”.
3. Listing your age, ethnicity, marital status, etc.
In some European and Middle Eastern countries it’s acceptable – and even expected – that you add personal details on a resume. But it’s not acceptable when you write an American resume! The situation with personal details is the same as with pictures. You may be discriminated against by employers based on the information you provide. Some employers even reject resumes with personal details without any consideration to avoid discrimination claims. Don’t give them the opportunity to reject you – make sure to keep the resume content to professional facts.
4. Missing information
So, you’ve listed that you’ve got a Master’s in Social Science, but forgot to include the university’s name and city. Or, you’ve mentioned that you’ve worked as a Senior Technical Support specialist for X company, but didn’t list any job responsibilities. Well… You might have forgotten to include something because you were in a rush or simply overlooked it. But the hiring managers won’t do the guessing – they’re likely to go to the next resume. Make sure that the resume isn’t missing any details which are of major importance for the decision-makers.
5. Using cookie-cutter clichés
Employers literally roll their eyes when they see another “go-getter” and a “proactive problem-solver” who was “responsible for” a lot of things during their career. The reason why clichés are so disliked is that they don’t give the recruiters any specific information. Instead of writing that you’re an “excellent problem solver”, say that you’ve resolved 80% of customer support inquiries on the phone. And, when listing responsibilities, don’t let “responsible for” and “managed” dominate your bullet points. Use richer, more specific language.
6. Listing only job duties all along the way
Job duties are important since they show recruiters the scope of work that you did on a regular basis. But it’s the accomplishments that distinguish you from others and inspire the recruiters to shortlist you. Accomplishments give your resume a personality - they are unique to your career history. Experts recommend that you list at least 1-2 accomplishments for each job. Instead of saying that you “wrote content for social media and blogs”, write “Created 20+ social media posts weekly and authored 10+ guest articles for lifestyle blogs”.
7. Not including figures
So, you say you’ve “increased sales a lot” or “saved company money by fixing bugs”. In this case, a recruiter cannot evaluate these accomplishments because they miss an important component – figures. Numbers and percentages make your achievements more specific and provide context. In the case with the above examples, it’s better to write “Increased B2B sales by 25% during FY2019” and “Saved an estimated $800K by minimizing system outages”. Sounds a lot more convincing, doesn’t it?
8. Unexplained employment gaps
You quit your last job in January 2020, and your resume gives no evidence of work or study since then. Large employment gaps make hiring managers assume a lot of things, from doubting your professional competencies and motivation to suspecting that you are trying to hide something. You are trying to make neither of these impressions, aren’t you? So, do yourself a favor and address any gaps. If you were volunteering or studying, include this information on a resume. In case you were out of the workforce for personal reasons, mention that in a cover letter to beat the hiring person’s concerns.
9. Job-hopping or lack of career progression
The fact that you’ve changed six jobs in 1.5 years isn’t bad on its own. But it makes the hiring managers assume that you are difficult to manage, didn’t meet expectations or were involved in the conflict situation. It also could mean that you’re not motivated enough to work on your professional skills and build a career. Again, if job-hopping is the case with you, explain the reasons behind the frequent changes.
If your previous jobs were in fact freelance or other short-term projects, be sure to specify this to avoid confusion.
10. Inconsistent career history
So, you’ve worked as a sales representative for two years, then spent one year in copywriting and transitioned to web design afterwards. A hiring manager can be confused by an unsteady work history and struggle to translate how it makes you a fit for the role. One of the main feature of a good resume is that it should give a career theme, not only list your degrees and jobs. If the recruiter cannot see the logic of your career choices, they are likely to toss your application.
11. Sending the same version of your resume everywhere
One of the key career tips from the strongest businesswomen is that you should stay persistent and take focused actions. This couldn’t be truer for a resume. Sending the same resume for an account manager, a fundraiser and a PR manager position isn’t the best strategy. You should adapt the resume for a job posting, highlight relevant qualifications, and add keywords. Only in this case your application will pass the screening software and get noticed by a human recruiter.
If the job gives you mental pressure and anxiety, use these tips to cope with them: http://resumeperk.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-anxiety-at-work.
12. Using an outdated objective
Ten years ago, it was acceptable to start your resume with an objective that sounded like “To obtain a challenging management position with a reputable company where I can grow my skills”. Now, it’s a big no-no. Such an objective is not tolerated by recruiters because it doesn’t show them what your strengths are or how hiring you will benefit the company. Opt for a career summary. Or, if you absolutely need an objective, make it specific: “To land an entry-level web developer position where I can apply effective coding, testing and user stories documentation skills”.
13. Making it too long or too short
Resume length is another major concern for job-seekers. The rule of thumb from our career expert sounds like this: The length should be dictated by content, but shouldn’t exceed two pages. In other words, don’t try to squeeze twenty years of experience into one-page resume – you will need to cut out the important information that could sell you for the job. At the same time, don’t write three or five pages as nobody is going to read lengthy documents like this! Learn to prioritize your experience and leave out what’s irrelevant.
14. Messing up the appearance and formatting
There are two extremes when it comes to your resume’s looks. The first is neglecting formatting at all, and submitting a messy document packed with big chunks of text. And the other is making the document too stylish – using bright colors, pictures, colored background or even glitter trying to get noticed. Such a resume will definitely be noticed, but not in a positive key. The effective strategy is between these approaches. Format the resume neatly, use bullets and graphs, add some color, but keep the style professional.
15. Typos and errors
59% of recruiters reject resumes because of errors, and it’s not surprising. As a rule, they see typos and grammar issues as lack of attention to detail or poor communication skills. Both serve as solid reason to disqualify a person’s resume. The most common errors also include incomplete sentences, inconsistent punctuation, grammar issues, typos, capitalization, etc. So, you want to proofread the resume more than one time before applying for a job. Make sure everything is flawless so that the hiring person has no reason to put aside your application!
How to fix these and other shortcomings?
As you see, it’s quite easy to make one or several resume mistakes that will turn off the decision-makers, even if you are a great candidate. There are two main approaches to fixing any resume issues. Some of them are purely mechanic, so you can fix them on your own. For instance, you can delete personal information, add missing details and proofread the document using online software. Other resume issues, such as inconsistent career history or job-hopping, require a strategy. In this case, you can’t go without a resume expert who can work out your personal strategy for explaining these red flags.
In either case, it’s helpful to have a resume creator look at your resume and evaluate its quality. Our agency offers a free resume review feature. Send the resume to us, and we’ll point out its strengths and shortcomings, and recommend the changes.
Need a perfect resume that is free from errors?
Our company offers multi-faceted resume help. We can create your resume from the ground up and adapt it for a target job posting. Similarly, we can edit the resume you already have, polishing it for any minor issues and errors. To get started, write to us “Write edit my resume for me!”, and we’ll provide you with a submission-ready resume in 24 hours.