Resume Mistakes that Make Recruiters Cringe

Resume Mistakes that Make Recruiters Cringe

Job search not going so well? Here’s our guide to eliminating common resume mistakes that make prospective employers cringe.

When you’re an active job seeker, it can sometimes feel like your endless applications are disappearing into a digital void, never to be read by a prospective employer (and much less one who will offer you a position). While this can certainly be discouraging, new research from TopResume suggests that the lack of response may lie in common resume mistakes that send your application to the bottom of the recruitment pile. To enhance your chance of success in the job hunt, here are five common resume mistakes that make prospective employers cringe — and how to avoid them.

The Devil is in the Details

In a survey of over 350 recruiters, hiring managers and human resources executives, spelling and grammatical errors were identified as the number one factor in whether or not a resume made the shortlist. It may sound obvious — especially with the plethora of in-built and online tools designed to eliminate them — but spelling and grammatical errors are still all too pervasive in job applications. One of the most common forms of mistakes are in the misuse of words: ‘principle and principal’, ‘affect and effect’, ‘they’re and their’, ‘its and it’s’, etc. If you’re unsure, ask a qualified friend to run over your resume with a fresh set of eyes, or use an online tool like Grammarly to eliminate these common resume mistakes.

Skills, not Thrills

While your love of home cooking or weekend hiking might seem like a valuable asset to a potential employer, including outdated, irrelevant or unprofessional content in your resume may be limiting your chances of success. Hobbies, headshots and even an unprofessional email address were all identified by prospective employers as resume deal-breakers, all pointing to one thing: The most important piece of information to include is why you’re qualified for a particular role. If you do want to bring something personal to your application, be sure that it’s relevant to the job or industry in some way. Present yourself professionally first, personally second.

All Design, no Detail

Unless you’re a graphic designer, photographer or someone applying for a visually-creative role, don’t let design stand in the way of a clear rationale for why you are the best fit for a position. Elaborate formatting and design was identified by 28 percent of prospective employers as a deterrent when assessing resumes, which means your fancy InDesign skills are not fooling anyone. The bottom line is that design should always be secondary to detail. Before you start polishing up your resume’s visuals, make sure that the cornerstone content is the real standout of your application.

Customize to the Criteria

When you’re applying to numerous positions, taking the time to customize your resume to a specific role can be time consuming. Nevertheless, over 30 percent of employers surveyed by TopResume identified overly-generalized skills and experience as a common downfall of resumes. Before submitting an application, take time to review the selection criteria and how your professional experiences can be tailored to address them. Avoid obvious ‘keyword stuffing’ (another reason your resume might be overlooked) and instead focus on giving specific examples that demonstrate your ability to manage the role. Remember, no resume should ever be the same across two different job applications.

Correct Contact Information

If you’ve taken the time to polish your resume until it shines, the last thing you want to fall victim to is not giving an employer the correct information to contact you with! Perhaps the most surprising finding from TopResume’s survey is that 52 percent of employers listed incorrect or missing contact details as a common resume mistake. Before hitting that ‘send’ button, be sure to triple-check your email, phone number and other important contact information. You never know — you might have been sitting at No. 1 in the recruitment pile, only to have their welcoming email bounce back with ‘return to sender’.

TopResume offers a range of resume-writing services including expertly-written and keyword-optimized resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. It is currently offering a free resume review to help you write the perfect resume to impress recruiters and land your dream job. 

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