We all want to separate ourselves from the pack. Unfortunately, as we strive to stand out from the crowd, we can make mistakes. With the job market more competitive than it has been in years, attention to detail is critical. The good news is a recent survey showed almost 90% of private companies plan to hire this year. So, if you’re hoping for a new position in 2021, here are some resume mistakes examples that experts warn you should avoid.
1. Inattention to Detail
This is a big one. Spelling and grammatical errors will get your resume tossed in the virtual trash. Proofread your resume for errors, then proof it again. Employ a trusted friend, family member or mentor to double check it. Lacking a second set of eyes, read it out loud.
2. Hard to Read Resumes
Of the many resume mistakes examples, this one is surprisingly common. Job search newcomers often struggle to fill a page. As you gain work experience, the tendency is to fill every square inch of space. Avoid this trap. If you’ve ever breezed through a thriller there’s a reason: white space. The places where words are not is somewhere the eyes can rest. Employ varied sentence lengths and bullet points. Don’t use a tiny font either –– 12-point is ideal, but nothing smaller than 10. You want to make your resume a breeze to read. Don’t give a hiring manager an excuse to stop reading.
No one wants to start a relationship with the end already in sight. Brief, multiple stops at various positions make it look like you’re easily bored and flightily. Yes, over one-third of of job seekers start looking for a new gig less than two years after earning their present position. Still, drawing attention to multiple jobs in less than a year or two is a bad idea. Don’t be deceptive but consider winnowing some of those jobs. If you’ve had a long-term side job, it may deserve more emphasis.
4. Air Quote “Skills” and Hobbies
No one really cares that you can handle MS Word. Experience with MS Office is expected. Emphasize less common talents such as using industry specific software like PACER or note your work using Google Analytics. Your background in mixed martial arts or a successful high school tennis career probably isn’t ideal when you’re trying to land a job as a data analyst. You don’t need a resume filled with trivia about yourself. Save it for the interview –– or even better the job.
5. Ignoring Applicant Tracking Systems
Just as blogs like this one are optimized for search engines, your resume should be applicant tracking system optimized. One downside to the ease of applying for work online is the ease with which hiring managers discard resumes. Applicant tracking systems use algorithms to reject resumes that are never seen by human beings. So if a posting asks for a business-to-business marketing background or experience using Google Analytics, make sure your resume includes these words. Help the hiring manager connect the dots between your work experience and the role you’re applying for. There should be an obvious connection between the jobs you’ve taken and the skills you’re developing.
6. Not Following Instructions
If a posting asks for a cover letter, submit one. If it asks for specific information, supply it. Don’t send a generic cover letter. It will get you rejected. In fact, tailoring your resume for each submission is a good idea. Yes, it’s more work. It also lets your potential employer know you care. Show them why you’ll be a good fit. Every time you submit, you’re auditioning. Give an opening night performance.
Inflating your resume can have consequences. Hiring managers report that lying on a resume is usually a deal breaker. If you posted info on LinkedIn that doesn’t match your resume, it’s a red flag. A study listed lying about the university you attended, your work history, your degree, or fluency in a foreign language as among the most egregious red flags.
Other “deal breakers.” An unprofessional email address, a photo submitted with a resume, and incorrect or missing contact information are amongst the top reasons hiring managers discard resumes. You want that interview. Don’t let a shoddy resume get in your way.