Your resume is your first point of contact with a company and the ideal opportunity to highlight why you would be a perfect fit for a position. But with an average of only 6 seconds to convince recruiters, there is absolutely no room for mistakes.
Even if you’re incredibly qualified and convinced you already have the position in your pocket, any of these 9 mistakes could cost you the job. Don’t let your resume work against you!
Our recruiters at ALTRES Staffing review thousands of resumes every year. These are the most common resume deal breakers they have seen, and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Spelling and grammar errors
Your resume is a representation of your professional image; nothing can ruin it faster than a ton of careless errors. A resume with spelling and grammar mistakes suggests that you are sloppy in your work and don’t pay close attention to details.
Solution: Activate your spellcheck, proofread, let your friends and family double-check, and then proofread again.
2. Inappropriate email address
It’s important to present yourself professionally to future employers. While email@example.com might have been great in middle school, it certainly isn’t fit for your job search.
Solution: Set up an email address specifically for professional use consisting of your first and last name. Not only does it look better, it will also help you avoid overlooking important messages.
3. Incorrect or missing contact information
Ever found yourself in this situation: You don’t hear back from someone for weeks, and then realize you mixed up the digits in the phone number you gave them? Good grief, this might be the most fatal resume mistake of them all.
Solution: Always double, triple, and quadruple check your contact info. Seriously, do it!
4. Excessive formatting and design
Unless you are applying for a creative position, leave out the excessive design. Outrageous formatting and graphics can easily distract recruiters from the information that really matters. Don’t put yourself at a preventable disadvantage.
Solution: Less is more. Keep your format clear and consistent. Use a font and size that is easy to read.
5. Obvious keyword stuffing
You may have heard about using eye-catching keywords to spice up our resume. But you better believe that recruiters can detect keyword stuffing from a mile away. Including keywords is only helpful if they are relevant to the position. Avoid using vague language à la “analytical business expert that excels at generating innovative, out of the box ideas that focus on bigger picture outcome.” What’s that now?
Solution: Tailor your resume and keywords to the position you are applying for, keep them clear and relevant.
6. Going into too much detail
A resume should be a peek into your work history, not an entire anecdote of your past. Hiring managers are interested in how you can add value to the company. While the fact that you won spelling bee in junior year might be a fun fact for a dinner party, it isn’t relevant for your job application. Also, only add information that is beneficial for you. For example, adding your GPA is great if you made honor roll, but not really impressive if it’s mediocre.
Solution: A good rule of thumb is to use one page for entry level positions and two pages for executive positions. Always remember to highlight your accomplishments, not your duties, and leave out any redundant information.
7. Omitting important information
While you don’t want to go into too much detail, it’s also crucial not to omit important information. Don’t leave the recruiters guessing. If you leave out your employment dates, for example, does that mean you worked in this position for 10 years or 1 month? This type of omission creates confusion and extra work for recruiters.
Solution: Let a few people read your resume. Have them give you feedback on how clear everything is to them, then adjust accordingly.
8. Adding a picture to your resume
Adding pictures to your resume puts recruiters in a difficult situation. It creates potential for unconscious bias (something they work hard to avoid) and often steers them away from reviewing the rest of your resume. Stop competing with yourself for valuable attention!
Solution: Leave the headshots on LinkedIn and the selfies in 2014, please. Including a headshot with a resume may be acceptable or even standard practice in some countries, so make sure to research common resume practices before applying internationally.
9. Including personal information
Our recruiters have seen it all: marital status, age, number of children, religion, even social security numbers. Including such information is outdated and unprofessional. Don’t put yourself at risk of being rejected because of this simple mistake.
Solution: Keep your personal information personal. Only include if it’s directly job related, for example when you’re applying at a non-profit and all your hobbies revolve around the organization’s mission.