You are here
6 common mistakes made in resumes and how to avoid them
While there are countless online resources and tools at our disposal to help us create high quality resumes and job applications, it still requires a bit of dedicated time before you end up with the best version. Importantly, online resources are no substitute for the all-important self-editing and checking stage of the final CV.
Have you ever sent off a resume and cover letter, only to find spelling mistakes or typos later? These will definitely leave a lasting impression on the person in charge of hiring – and not in a good way, as they impact your likelihood of getting called for an interview.
As recruiters, we continue to see it all: unprofessional email addresses, incorrectly addressed cover letters, copy-and-pasted applications and file formats that don’t open.
If you want to be seriously considered for a role, you must demonstrate your attention to detail. After you finish running through the tips below, a final tip is to find some time to print it out, get out a red pen and put your editing hat on – you’ll be amazed how much more detail you can pick up when you’re not seeing it on a screen.
Here are common resume errors to avoid.
Even for those who are great writers or avid copy-proofers, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can creep into your resume; nobody is immune. Hiring managers, HR and recruiters will read these as a lack of attention to detail – they can quickly recognise an edited CV from a rough draft. If this is something you struggle with, get a trusted friend or family member to check it over, and considering downloading Grammarly for free as an added layer of copy-proofing. Don’t forget: strong written communication is an expected trait for most employees and it’s also a highly-regarded transferable skill.
Punctuation, spelling, grammar and more. Proofread carefully. Read it out loud. If you stumble or run out of breath, your brain is telling you. Trust what you’ve heard and review it again.
– Gayle Howard, Certified Master Resume Writer
Using a one-size-fits-all approach
It can be tempting to save time and send recruiters or potential employers with identical resumes that talk broadly about your efficiency, passion or communication skills. But it’s important to closely echo the language and words contained in the job description, and tailor each application to specifically match the company and the role. For example, an account manager role in a corporate environment will require a different kind of application from a similar role in a small agency.
To make your resume stand out to screeners, you must tailor it for each role and make sure the first page captures attention immediately with all the essential information the employer requires.
– Jane Jackson, Career Management Coach and Best-Selling Author
It's too long
Our attention spans are limited: recruiters and hiring managers are pressed for time so don’t make them through pages of text to find out whether you’re the right fit for the job – it will likely result in being overlooked. While you could combat this by putting all the best bits at the top, a more appropriate plan is to trim any extraneous information from your resume until you’re left with as lean a document as possible. This might mean cutting irrelevant or older, unrelated roles and choosing succinct words and sentences for maximum impact. The general guide is a 1 or 2-page CV but it will depend on your level of experience.
Place your achievements at the very top and front of the CV as most recruiters give CVs only a few minutes each of attention. The best way to do this is to [give] an overview of specific, objective achievements.
– Mandy Johnson, Best-Selling Author, Speaker, and Business Advisor
Using fluffy language
Remember, resumes are about who you are as a potential employee and should be based on fact: where you studied, who you’ve worked for and what you’ve achieved. Interviews are the time for your personality and additional details to shine through – resumes are all about what you’ve done so keep the language tight and practical. That doesn’t mean you come across like a robot but staying on point and getting your skills across in a simple, effective manner is key. And make sure every word and sentence in your resume is justified. There’s even an app for that.
Just because someone says they are a team player doesn’t make them one. Get rid of subjective, cliché-ridden drivel.
– Mandy Johnson, Best Selling Author, Speaker, and Business Advisor
Using an inappropriate email address
Picture this: a hiring manager has your resume in a stack on their desk. They’ve picked you and a handful of others to shortlist. They are about to contact you, and the email address you’ve left is [email protected]. It might make them rethink who they’ve chosen for an interview – and whether you’re professional enough for the role. Another no-no when including an email address is to use your current work address: it’s indiscreet and would give a hiring manager pause for thought. Instead, use a [email protected]-style address. If you’re serious about investing in your personal brand, you can even buy your own domain name and set up an email account from there i.e. [email protected].
Not considering layout and formatting
As with a CV that’s too long, a resume that contains too much information will appear busy and cluttered. So, as you trim the fat from your writing you should also be aware of how your resume looks. It must be readable and pleasing to the eye – the cleaner and more streamlined, the better. Use bullet points and delineated sections with headings to make it easy to skim read. Be sure to also pick a neutral, easy-to-read font such as Arial, Calibri, Helvetica or Times New Roman. In addition, free tools like Canva provide fresh-looking CV templates that are easy to use.
Don't compose long, boring blocks of text in the descriptions of your experience! Summarise each role with one or two concise sentences and use bullet points to list your specific responsibilities and achievements.
– Aziza Green, Digital Marketing Pro
For more helpful resume advice and tips, see our latest articles here.