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17 Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You a Future Career

Author —
Jacob
January 13, 2021

There are several reasons why some job seekers can’t seem to get hired, no matter what...

If you’re making any of these common resume mistakes, it can be one of the things standing between you and the ideal company you want to work for.

Undercover Recruiter found that 20% of recruiters will actually reject a candidate before even getting to the end of their resume.

In this guide, we’ll be going over the following three areas:

  • Resume formatting mistakes
  • Resume writing mistakes
  • General resume mistakes

By the end of this, you’ll know what resume mistakes to avoid so you can improve your chances of getting your next job!

Resume Formatting Mistakes

The format of your resume has an impact towards your application. Even if what you write is good, you can still be rejected if the hiring manager dislikes the way your resume is formatted.

1. Naming the File “Resume”

Don’t name the file “Resume” or any variation of that.

After going through 100 resumes at Rezi, we had a short list of 20 candidates that we needed to whittle down to 5 or 10 people to interview. I went through the directory looking for the 20 resumes to review again in more detail, and could only find 14.

We assume the other 6 are somewhere in the generic mass of 30 or so files titled “Resume” or something like that.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to wade through them all to check.

Your resume file name should start with your actual name, not just naming it plainly as “resume”.

2. You’re Using an Over-designed Resume Template

Don’t use a colorfully designed or modern resume because they don’t guarantee that you will stand out. It’s a lot easier if you focus on clearly presenting your work experience and skills that prove you’re capable for the job.

The best approach is to keep the resume layout simple. It should be easy for the reader to quickly find specific information.

3. Having a Third Page on Your Resume

Don’t make me scroll to the third page to find your previous experience...

If your hobbies, education and “strengths” are listed before your work experience, I’ll assume you don’t have any. That’s fine for entry level jobs but when the position requires 3 or more years of relevant experience, if you don’t include that somewhere on the first page of your resume, employers are likely to just close the file and move on.

4. Not Making Your Resume as Short as Possible

Resumes should be no longer than 2 pages. Generally, it should be as short as possible.

The most important thing is that you’ve included all the essential and relevant details. Most times, almost every recruiter is in a hurry.

For entry level and junior positions, anything more than 2 just seems long winded.

It makes prospective employers assume you can’t prioritize or stay concise because anything more than two pages can look inefficient.

When you’re applying for an entry level position or if you’re an applicant with little to no experience, keep your resume one page long. However, if you’re applying for a senior management position, you can make it as long as you need to.

Resume Writing Mistakes

Listed below are 9 resume writing mistakes you need to avoid. These will give a bad impression and can become a deal-breaker for whether or not you’ll get hired.

5. Having Incomplete Information on Your Application

When you’re applying to a job posted on LinkedIn and have incomplete information (e.g. you don’t have a resume file attached to your profile for the recruiter to download), you probably won’t be considered for the job. Not all hiring managers will care about how good your LinkedIn profile looks.

What’s more important is that you attach a cv in your application. If you have any wrong information on a resume that’s inaccurate as well, there can be consequences.

6. Resume Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

This is still a common resume mistake that happens even in today’s modern workforce.

The recruiter will initially review your resume by skimming through it in the first few seconds. If they see an embarrassing mistake like this within those seconds of assessment, there’s a good chance you'll be rejected.

7. You’re Lacking Variety

Repeating the same words every time can make your application a lot less engaging. While basic language can be good for the readability of your resume, not having any variation in your word choices and sentence openers can make it boring.

8. Too Much Jargon

Jargon isn’t inherently bad. Actually, it’s important to use some to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in the area. It becomes a problem, however, when you overuse them as it can make your resume more difficult to read.

9. You’re Not Talking About Your Past Responsibilities or Achievements

This is applicable for both the education section and work experience section of your resume. In both of these, you’ll want to highlight what you’ve been responsible for as well as any achievements you have. If it’s from an extracurricular activity, it’s still worth mentioning it to give your employers more insight!

Don’t just list out your day to day tasks. Describe what exactly you’ve been doing and how you’ve made an impact.

10. You’re Not Including Examples

When making any statement, you need to include examples to support your claims. If not, then it won’t say much to your recruiters because you haven’t proved it.

Including examples will also show confidence and rationality. If you’re just making claims without providing any evidence, it won’t seem credible. Instead of wholeheartedly acknowledging it, they’ll first question what you’re saying.

11. Not Using Resume Power Words

Power words include action verbs and buzzwords. These can make your application more intriguing by adding emphasis and significance to your sentences. If you’re overusing buzzwords though, it can become a problem.

These should also be used in the right context!

12. Resume Clichés

Stating the obvious and something that’s a given is one of the most common reasons why candidates fail to get the job. For example, don’t just say you’re a hard worker, or that you can work in a team. They’re an attribute which the position will most likely require anyway!

13. You’re Not Personalizing Your Resume

Are you sending the same resume to several different companies?

That’s another resume mistake that can lead to rejection. It’s one way for recruiters to determine whether you’re a serious, committed candidate by seeing if you’ve taken the time to tailor your resume and use the right keywords.

If the position you’re applying for is the same, the contents may be similar but it needs to be personalized specifically for each company’s job description!

General Resume Mistakes

Listed below are 4 general resume mistakes. Making one of these errors on your application can also cost you a potential career.

14. Lying On Your Resume

Lying on your resume is a big red flag for the hiring manager. Don’t underestimate their experience. They’ll know when an applicant isn’t exactly telling the truth and they’ll easily find out during your interview.

15. Not Double-Checking Your Social Media & Contact Details

We live in a digital era. Therefore it’s important to double check that your public social media profiles are appropriate.

Not all recruiters will check it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Your contact details should also be correct and appropriate, e.g. have a professional email address.

16. Not Optimizing Your Resume for The Applicant Tracking System

Applicant tracking systems are scanners that will check your resume to see if it matches with the company’s job description.

The first stage of the hiring process is beating the resume scanners. These will check for specific keywords that need to be included. If these scanners see that you don’t meet their criteria, you won’t make it to the next stage.

17. Taking resume advice as gospel

Never take resume advice as gospel. Every recruiter is different - anything that one HR professional tells you, another one will disagree with.

Finally, the whole point here is that anything you can do to make the job of the hiring manager easier helps you. This isn’t about you, it’s about the hiring manager who has to root through hundreds of resumes. Keep that in mind when you write yours, and you’ll have a leg up.

Summary

Now you know the resume mistakes that can cause you to potentially lose a future career. To summarize, here’s what you shouldn’t forget:

  • Don’t plainly name the file “resume”
  • Don’t use a resume with too much design
  • Avoid using a third page for your resume
  • Do make your resume as short as possible
  • Make sure the information required is complete
  • Check for resume spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Use a variety of words and sentence openers
  • Don’t use too much jargon
  • Describe your previous responsibilities and achievements
  • Include examples
  • Use resume power words
  • Avoid resume clichés
  • Personalize your resume
  • Don’t lie
  • Double check your social media and contact information
  • Optimize your resume for the applicant tracking system
  • Don’t take all resume advice as gospel

When you’re using an AI resume builder powered to beat the resume scanners, you can miss all the tedious stuff by automatically creating a full, tailored application.

The only thing you have to do is click a few buttons and edit from there, it’s as simple as that.

Watch the video below to see our AI resume writer in action!


“Actually, I had the perfect experience for the position I was applying for but I didn't know how to translate it into a hirable resume... Rezi was so intuitive and answered all my questions about my resume" - Khurram Qazi

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