The Biggest Resume Mistakes You Can Make

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified

Resumes can either help you get a foot in the door or cause the door to be slammed in your face. Considering how little time hiring managers or recruiters spend initially reviewing resumes, it’s important to ensure you’re not making a major mistake before hitting the apply button.

Resume Typos and Grammatical Errors

Spelling and grammar may not come easily to everyone, but that’s not an excuse to have typos on your resume. Submitting a resume that has improper grammar or misspelled words is a major red flag for most employers. While being a master at spelling may not be a requirement of the job, having the right attention to detail almost certainly is.

Spell check can’t always be trusted to fix our mistakes. Words can be spelled correctly but used incorrectly. This is also the case with grammatical issues. Editing software won’t pick out the correct or incorrect use of they’re/their/there for you.

Avoid these issues by reading your resume multiple times once it’s completed. If you’re not certain of your grammar or spelling, ask someone else to read it for you. Sometimes, we don’t see our own errors because they’re too familiar to us.

The Length Of Your Resume

Opening a resume and finding that it’s 4, 5 or even 6 pages is overwhelming. Only academic CVs that list publications should be more than 3 pages in length. For the rest of us, keeping resumes to 2 or 3 pages is ideal. Any longer and you risk losing the attention of the hiring manager.

A good rule to follow is 10 years of experience per page. Based on completed education and/or certifications, your first 10 years of work experience may actually lead into the second page of a resume, which is okay. The biggest mistake many people make is thinking that your resume needs to list your entire work history. You should view your resume as marketing material which illustrates why your relevant skills and experiences make you the one for the job.

Don’t be afraid to remove outdated or unrelated job experiences. If your resume is still coming in more than 2 pages, really look at how you can cut down the fluff. Remove unnecessary volunteer information or organizations that might not be applicable to the position. Your resume should be a concise document that easily outlines how your experience matches with the position.

Resume Formatting Issues

There is such a thing as over-formatting ones resume just as you can under-format your resume. Unless you’re applying to a graphic design position, your resume should be formatted for easy reading and avoid trendy fonts, graphics or loud colors.

Your resume should have at least a semblance of a formatted theme and should avoid just hitting the enter key and starting a new line of text. You want to strike a balance between eye catching and making the resume readable. Using bullets when listing duties and accomplishments will be much easier to read than a full paragraph. You’ll be able to draw the hiring manager’s attention to specific words, phrases and keywords.

While over-formatting and under-formatting can cost you, inconsistent formatting is one of the biggest mistakes regularly made on resumes. If you italicize one employer’s name, be sure to do it to the next. If you use bullets, use the same type of bullets throughout the resume. Make sure the margins, line indents and spacing are consistent throughout the resume.

Telling Resume Lies

When you come across a job you really, really want, have you ever been tempted to create a few little white lies? Lying on your resume is easier to detect in the current world of social media pages and search engines. There’s nothing worse than exaggerating information or misleading a hiring manager and getting caught. You not only risk losing that job opportunity, but all other future opportunities at the company as well.

Honestly is the best policy when it comes to your resume. There are ways to creatively craft your resume if you think you’re underqualified for the position. Creative positioning is different than fabricating details about your work experience or education.

Only Having One Version Of Your Resume

Not all jobs are the same so not all resumes should be either. It’s obvious to a hiring manager when a candidate sends out the same resume with all applications. You do yourself and skills a great disservice by not tailoring your resume to each job you apply to. This doesn’t mean you have to have completely differing versions of your resume, but you should edit your general resume to fit the job you’re applying to.

Pay attention to keywords used in the job description or posting. Be sure those same keywords can be found throughout your resume. If possible, tailor your resume more directly towards the industry you’re applying for to show how relevant your skill sets are. You want a company to be able to easily visualize how your skills and experiences can work within their organization.

Giving them the same generic resume all other organizations receive isn’t going to achieve that. Remove the general objective if you’re still using one! Seeing “to obtain a job in a manufacturing environment” as a goal on the top of a resume doesn’t help hiring mangers understand who you are as a candidate.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
LinkedIn

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees. Robin aims to empower the employees and managers she works with by providing coaching and counseling services.

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