With the average job posting receiving more than 250 applications, recruiters and hiring managers spend most of their time reading resumes looking for ways to weed out candidates. What mistakes will keep you from being considered? Read on to learn some of the ways your resume may be hampering your job search:
Not using keywords
Most employers these days use applicant tracking systems as part of their hiring process. This means that your resume will be scanned for keywords relevant to the job listing. If the right keywords don’t appear on your resume, your resume will get passed over—even if you’re actually qualified. Common keywords include things such as job titles; industry-related tools (such as certain software programs); and degrees, certifications, or licenses. Applicant tracking systems make it even more important to be specific. For example, the terms “accounting software” and “photo editing software” are too general—list the specific programs you’ve used.
Not having someone else proofread
Having just one or two typos on your resume will get you immediately placed in the “no” pile 76 percent of the time, according to an Accountemps survey. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make sure your resume is error-free. Tricks such as looking over a printed copy of your resume, or reading it out loud, will help by giving you a fresh perspective. Tools such as spell check are helpful, but will not catch every error for you. Spell check won’t notice if “Marketing Manger” is among your job titles, for example. A fresh set of eyes will spot things that you don’t, so ask a mentor, friend, or family member to proofread your resume and provide you with honest feedback.
Not using enough white space
Yes, you can fit a lot of text onto a page by using 0.25″ margins and 9-point text. No, that does not mean you should. Your resume should be easily readable at a glance. Avoid using paragraphs; key information is too easily buried in dense blocks of text, and hiring managers will not sit and dutifully read each and every word. Your resume is not an autobiography—its job is to quickly and clearly make the case that you are a good candidate for the role. White space is pleasing to the eye and makes it so that the text you do include stands out.
If your resume is two pages long, and you have already resorted to tinkering with tiny margins and font sizes to keep it from getting any longer, then formatting isn’t your issue—you need to edit.
Not including months in employment dates
Streamlining your resume is a good idea in general, but in this instance, it’s best to err on the side of providing more information. Many people with employment gaps think that they can hide their period of unemployment by listing only the years they spent at each position, leaving off the months. Hiring managers know about this common “trick,” and will assume you are trying to hide something.
Further, they will be left wondering how much experience you actually had in each role. If you say you worked someplace from 2012 to 2013, does that mean that you worked there two months (December 2012 to January 2013) or 24 months (January 2012 to December 2013)? The purpose of your resume is not to leave a hiring manager wondering about your experience and qualifications, but to provide them with all of the information they need to decide whether you’re a good candidate for the position they’re filling.
When writing resumes, many people fall back on corporate jargon because of a misguided belief that it makes them sound authoritative. In reality, it mostly makes them sound vague. The verb “interfaced” is one of the more common culprits. When a job seeker says that they “interfaced” with someone, all they are really saying is that they met with someone. Remember, an effective resume is more than simply a list of job duties. Meeting with someone isn’t an accomplishment in and of itself, and doesn’t belong on your resume. Instead of putting the focus on the fact that you “interfaced” with someone, put the focus where it ought to be: on why you met, the project you were working on, and what that project ultimately accomplished. Simplify your language and highlight specific achievements.
The good news for those who have committed these resume sins is that each one involves a simple fix. Correct these errors, and your resume will garner much more interest.