You may have read the statistics about how quickly your resume is reviewed by hiring managers or a recruiter. Current research says you only have about 7 seconds to make a good impression. So how do you make sure your resume ends up in the “Yes” pile? Our recruiting staff has reviewed a lot of resumes, and these are the top five most common resume mistakes they see.
1. Typographical Errors.
You know you should proofread your resume. You know this is one document – along with the cover letter – that must be typo-free. But somehow those typos still show up. One of the main issues is that it is tough to proofread your own work. The human brain will skip over, fill in, or complete things in your writing without you realizing it. Some tips to combat this – read the document backward to catch any mistakes. Have a friend who is detail-oriented proof for you. Or use a free writing review program like Grammarly to triple check. It is worth taking a little bit of extra time on this issue to present your best self in your resume.
2. Formatting and Consistency.
We see this issue a lot too. You want your resume to be well organized, clearly laid-out, and easy to follow. You do not have to use a common font like Times New Roman, but you should use a font that most computers can render like Calibri, Cambria, Bookman, Palatino, Tahoma, or Verdana. If you are using bullet points in one job description to highlight your work achievements, use them in every section. Use titles and place names consistently too. One example came up recently for the word California – in the same resume, the state was Ca, CA, and California. It sounds like a minor thing, but it was noticeable. This can inadvertently signal to the reader that you are not detail orientated.
3. List Your Current Job Experience First.
This resume mistake is also surprisingly common. The bulk of your resume should focus on your work experience. List your past jobs in chronological order, from most recent to oldest. A reader wants to see what you have done most recently. Take a results-driven approach to describe your accomplishments. That means including meaningful information about how you benefited a project or the company. Include at least seven years of experience if you have it. After your work experience section, include relevant volunteer, certificates, or coursework.
4. A Professional Email Address.
Set up a professional email address on a free service like MSN or Google for your job hunt and job-related communications. Keep it as simple as possible – your first name, a period, and your last name works. You can add a middle initial if needed. You do not want a potential employer to have type “BiggestINSYNCfan1984@hotmail.com” into an email header to reach you. Make sure that your phone number is correct in the header and contact section too. We know of one recent candidate who accidentally transposed the last two digits in their phone number on their otherwise great resume (and wondered why they weren’t getting calls). Since a lot of job searching is happening in a digital environment these days, you do not need to include your actual street address on your resume for safety reasons, but you can add your city and state.
5. Should You Include A Picture?
Our staff was mixed on this topic and this wouldn’t necessarily be listed as a resume mistake. It is becoming much more common for people to include a photo on their resume. However, the consensus here is that a clean, straightforward, easy-to-read resume is more important. If you are in a creative field like graphic design or photography, it might make sense to show off both your layout and photo skills. But for most other fields, a solid resume with a hyperlink to a LinkedIn profile is the better way to go. You can set up your LinkedIn profile for free and use it to highlight additional information to augment your resume. A professional-looking headshot, some project examples, learning certificates for programs like Google Analytics can all go on your LinkedIn profile.
We hope the above list of resume mistakes proves helpful to you during your job search. If you need a general resume resource, the careers page at the American University in Washington, D.C. is an excellent place to start. If you would like support in your job search, please contact us at 760-862-1818 or send your resume to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.