6 Biggest Resume Mistakes You Need to Stop Now
In its 2018 Eye-Tracking Study, Ladders, Inc. revealed that the time recruiters spend on the initial screen of a resume is, on average, 7.4 seconds.
7.4 seconds! The time we spend filling out dozens of applications and editing resumes boils down to a decision made that quickly? Yes. And that’s not much time to make a first impression.
So what are companies looking at first before they make a decision?
1. Not matching your resume to the position you’re applying for
Companies use applicant tracking systems that filter for keywords and assign job scores for qualified applicants. Candidates need to ensure their resume matches the responsibilities of the position they are applying to.
I have seen numerous resumes with a professional summary or objective tailored to the wrong position or even the wrong company. When I see an overview saying “Experienced professional seeking an Office Manager position,” when we advertised for a different job, it demonstrates that the candidate isn’t legitimately interested.
There is a critical difference between applicants that clarify the position they applied for versus applicants that do the right preparation and research to communicate why they applied for the posting.
What’s the best way to tailor your resume?
Edit your resume for each position. Yes, it increases the workload. But it’s worth it. Pull up the job ad while you are editing your resume and focus on emphasizing as many similar responsibilities as you can.
2. You talk about what you did, not what you did for the company
When you only talk about what you did in your previous jobs, you remove the opportunity to highlight your accomplishments.
Instead, write about what you did for the company. Numbers, achievements, and quantitative explanations carry immense weight in a resume.
If you’re in management, how many people did you manage? What improvements did you make as a manager? What new policies and procedures did you implement? What projects did you successfully lead?
If you’re in sales, what rewards did you receive? How much did you increase the company’s revenue? How many consecutive quarters did you hit your sales targets?
Here is an example of a mediocre bullet point on a resume.
- Increased revenue for clients
Why is it mediocre? You’re explaining what you did. And that’s the minimum.
Here is an example of a better bullet point on a resume.
- Increased revenue for a law firm client by 400% in 4 months with end-to-end Google Ads setup.
Why is it better? This bullet clearly illustrates quantitative data that proves your success. You explain how you increased revenue, narrowed down a specific industry that you supported, and highlighted the short time-frame of your accomplishment.
Featuring what you did for the companies you worked for puts you in the running for the open job as a top tier candidate.
3. Information isn’t updated
It’s disappointing when your resume qualifies for the initial phone interview, but the resume you submitted doesn’t align with your current experience.
It’s understandable if things have changed since you put in your application. But when a candidate says, “Oh, I’ve already been at a new company for six months,” it merely puts their candidacy in the rejection pile.
Be sure that your resume is the most updated. Applicants may have stored an old resume on job boards like Indeed or Ziprecruiter.
Confirm that your dates of employment and current position are updated so that you are confidently prepared to answer any follow-up questions.
4. Messy Formatting
Poorly formatted and messy resumes are an immediate turn-off. Spacing and alignment of your bullet points make a significant difference when a Recruiter is screening hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes.
All of these little details are important. It’s not the most critical factor, but when you are applying with hundreds or thousands of applicants, perfection makes a difference.
Your polished resume is your marketing and first impression. It should be clear, concise, and consistent.
5. Lack of attention to detail
If there is an evident lack of attention to detail on an applicant’s resume, this is a strong indicator that the candidate won’t be the right fit for the company.
Some recruiters may be lenient on spelling and grammar, but with tight competition, excessive grammar mistakes are often an automatic disqualifier.
Wrong contact information is another red flag. It’s a bad sign when a resume contains the wrong email or phone number. Recruiters or hiring managers aren’t willing to go chase down a candidate for accurate contact information. They’ll move onto the next viable candidate. Simple.
With interviews, applicants answer interview questions with little preparation. But resumes are a different story. Applicants have weeks or months to update their resume before applying, so even minor errors are unacceptable for competitive job openings.
The rule of thumb for a one-page resume is essential. It shouldn’t be the length of a short story.
Recruiters are narrowing in on your contact information, your current job title and responsibilities, previous job title, dates of employment, and key achievements. Unless it’s directly related to the job you are applying for, including every full-time job, temp position, or internship over the last 20 years is excessive.
Sometimes longer resumes can hurt you. It can portray an idea that you are a job hopper instead of leaving that to the imagination of the Recruiter. You don’t need to include all of your responsibilities in every job you’ve had since graduating high school or college.
Every bullet point or word on your resume should exist for a reason.
Recruiters are scanning resumes at record speeds to disqualify candidates that don’t meet the requirements of the job. Companies are interested in interviewing the top candidates, not 50% of those that apply.
It’s important to present yourself in the best light to highlight your accomplishments. Try to get a second if not third set of eyes to proofread your resume. And you’ll be six steps closer to avoiding that disheartening rejection pile.