8 common resume mistakes that stop you from getting the job

Posted 15 October 2020

Your resume reflects you as a candidate. It is your first point of contact with an employer - make a mistake and you run the risk of being rejected for a role before having the opportunity to prove your skills in the interview.

A recent survey found that 70% of employers would immediately disregard a candidate if they encountered certain resume mistakes. It is therefore crucial to ensure your resume is flawless and demonstrates that you are the right candidate for the position.

It doesn’t require a mammoth effort to create a successful resume. All it takes is attention to detail and some time. Here are the most common resume mistakes to avoid:

Grammatical and spelling errors

This may seem glaringly obvious to most, but it is one of the top reasons for a resume rejection. These days, there is no excuse for grammar or spelling mistakes. As well as running your resume through an online checker, have someone else read it through. A second pair of eyes could make the difference between being invited for an interview and being rejected outright.

Incorrect, inconsistent, or missing information

Make sure all your employment dates are correct and line up with your online job profiles. If an employer spots an inconsistency, it will make them wonder whether you are being dishonest, or simply lack attention to detail. Moreover, always use months in your employment history. Only using years is a red flag to employers and will seem like you are hiding something. Be transparent about any employment gaps as this is easily verified by potential employers.

Not tailoring your resume

This is one of the most common and worst mistakes you could make. It is not necessary to completely rewrite your resume for every position, but a few adjustments make all the difference. Research the company by reading their site and social media platforms to get a sense of the culture, current projects, and history. What are the company goals and values? Customise your resume to align with them. Otherwise, it implies a lack of effort and enthusiasm about the position.

Overdoing the visuals

Many candidates spend more time on creating a visually impactful resume than on the actual content. The employer must be able to quickly scan to see if you will fit the role, so your resume should be clean, neat, and easy to read. Font should be san serif, an absolute minimum of 10 point, and uniform throughout. Use a maximum of two colours and be consistent, for example, one used only for headers and sub-headers. Remember to also leave some blank space, to ensure your resume looks readable as soon as the employer sets eyes on it.

Overusing or underusing keywords

Resume filtering software is commonly used by larger companies. This software detects keywords that are essential to the role and if you don’t include any, it is unlikely your resume will be considered. Refer back to the job offer and select keywords used. These include hard and soft skills as well as the most obvious one – the job title. However, be cautious of keyword stuffing. They need to be in context and make sense. Again, ask someone else to read through to make sure everything sounds natural.

Omitting quantifiable results

You need to include results achieved in past roles to clearly demonstrate what you will bring to the company. Simply writing “improved CMS efficiency” does not tell your potential employer anything of substance. Back up achievements with statistics and numbers.

Simply listing skills and successes

Employers are looking for how you achieved your success and how you displayed skills in your previous roles. Did you lead? What changes did you make? Did you train others? Provide examples of situations to show you have what it takes to be successful in the company.

Being dishonest

Fabricating anything on your resume is a major issue. Employers can easily and quickly check your educational background, references, and work history. Moreover, some areas of the technology industry are small, and employers communicate with each other. If you tell a serious lie, you may find yourself blacklisted in your field. Be transparent about employment gaps and if you are missing certain skills, focus on the new perspective and abilities you can bring to the role, and your enthusiasm to progress in your career.

When applying for jobs, it may be tempting to quickly send your resume out to as many employers as possible. But taking your time to tailor, proofread, and edit, will ensure your resume stands out from the crowd. It is the difference between being overlooked and getting the position you deserve.

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