Top 10 common mistakes to avoid in your resume

On average, it takes a recruiter close to six seconds to determine whether a candidate will be a good fit for the job – purely based on their resume. With only six seconds to impress, a candidate should therefore ensure every second count. As a candidate, you want to make a great first impression and have your resume convey a clear and suitable image about yourself. After all, a well-crafted resume will open doors to job interviews and new career opportunities.

It is therefore essential to submit an effective resume, one that is strategically written without the following common mistakes:

1.   Typos and grammatical errors

Typos are every recruiter’s pet peeve. A resume with typos makes the applicant come across unprofessional and unqualified. The employer is also more likely to add it to the rejection pile as it comes across as a lack of care and attention to detail. Put it simply, your resume needs to be grammatically perfect. There is no excuse for misused words, incorrect spelling or overuse of the same words and punctuations in your resume.

A good tip – avoid rush writing your resume. Set aside some time to work on it, take a break and come back to review it with a fresh pair of eyes. Feel free to also ask a trusted friend to have a second read and make full use of the spell check function in Microsoft Word.

2.   Sending the same resume with all your job applications

There are no shortcuts when applying for jobs. You need to tailor your resume and show your interest in the specific role you are applying for. You cannot copy and paste the same resume in all your job applications. Employers want to feel valued and they expect their next employee to show that they have researched about the company and are able to demonstrate why they would be an excellent fit for the role. This is why you need to take the time to craft a resume for each job you are applying for and pay close attention to the keywords in the job advert so you have a better idea about the role.

Make sure you understand the company values and conduct a quick research about the company through available online platforms such as the company website, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Mirror the job requirements in your resume as long as they are aligned with your own skills and experience. Ideally, you would want the employer to see your resume and identify you as the ideal candidate.

3.   Listing out duties instead of achievements

Do not slip into duty mode. In many cases, I have seen applicants list their previous duties in their resume which comes across as repetitive and irrelevant. Instead, show your next employer what you’ve accomplished so they know the extent of knowledge and experience that you can bring into your next role with them. For example, instead of saying you’ve ‘worked with application developers’, you can detail it further and say ‘recruited, trained and supervised a team of 20 application developers’. While both convey the same message, the second option is more useful to the employer as it provides more information about your leadership style. Show that your duties had purpose and mention any achievements. Make sure to also quantify your accomplishments whenever possible as statistics always add more weight.

4.   Poorly written summary

Avoid vague, generic statements such as “I am an accomplished professional seeking career growth” that take up valuable space in your resume. Make your summary more specific and more importantly, ensure you address the needs of your next potential employer. For example, an effective summary would be "an accomplished .Net developer that developed award-winning programs for global clients and contributed to 50% increase in profits.” Make sure your short summary relates to the job that you are applying for and avoid using an objective statement that does not correspond well with the focus of the target job. Your summary should include the same keywords that appear in the job listing. If your resume does not have the right keywords, you might come across as a weaker candidate who is less suitable for the role.

5.   Having no proper format or structure in your resume

When it comes to the layout of your resume, less is more. If your resume has different fonts and different colours across the page – it will definitely make it harder for the employer to go through your content. Opt for a simple and clean design that favours white space and makes it easy to read. Prior to submitting your resume, ask yourself whether your resume is too hard on the eyes. If so, revise and declutter your resume. Make the formatting uniform throughout your resume.

6.   Not submitting your resume in the appropriate format

Companies use varying Applicant Tracking System (ATS) applications to review resumes – which is why most companies would ask for a Word or PDF format. So make sure that you are not missing out on this opportunity by saving your document in the required format. Your safest bet would be to save in PDF as the formatting won’t change depending on the computer’s operating system. Saving a document in Word however may vary depending on the current version of Microsoft Office that the employer has.

7.   Incorrect contact information

You need to be 100% sure that you have the correct contact details on your resume. If you’ve changed your phone details or email address, make sure that this is reflected in your resume as well. One tip would be to cross check your contact details before submitting your resume. By having incorrect information on your resume, you are making it twice as hard for employers to reach you. Also, do not list your contact details in the header of your resume or paste it as an image. This is because the employer’s ATS would likely not be able to read this information and therefore state that you have incomplete information on your resume.

8.   Not using action verbs

Avoid using passive terms such as "responsible for." Instead, use action verbs that will make you sound more proactive and hard-working. For example:

  • Resolved complex problems within a collaborative environment; and
  • Developed a comprehensive development program for new hires.

9.   Including irrelevant experience

Never submit a resume that is out-of-date with no relevance to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are an application developer looking for your next opportunity, do not include casual jobs that you had such as working at the bar as a college student. A key advice would be to look at every piece of information on your resume and ask yourself whether it adds any value. If it does not help you secure your next role then it is best not to include.

10. Including a photo of yourself in your resume

You don’t want employers to make a decision about hiring based on how you look. Unless you work in the entertainment industry and are required to have a portfolio – a photo of yourself would not be required when applying for jobs. The majority of recruiters would agree that a photo on a candidate’s resume can lead to discrimination, unconscious bias and favouritism. Appearance, name, age, gender and address are all factors that can trigger a subconscious bias from the employer or recruiter’s perspective. This is why in many countries and global companies, HR departments disregard resumes with photos in order to avoid any possible accusations of discrimination or bias. Employers are also inclined to a non-discrimination policy and this is why including a photo in your resume may not necessarily work in your favour.

Contact us for assistance with your resume

Writing a resume can be quite a long process and at Progressive Recruitment, we extend this service to our candidates. Contact us through the form below: 

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