Avoid These 5 Common Resume Mistakes

Catherine Tabuena
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There is a semblance of truth in the cliché, “Looking for a job is a job on its own.” Job hunting is definitely more work than people realize. According to a report, 1.23 million Americans are currently long-term unemployed. If you’ve been sending out resumes for a while and still have not received a response, the problem might be your resume. With an eloquently written and well-optimized resume, you stand a higher chance of securing an interview. Here are some of the most common mistakes job seekers make when it comes to their resumes.

1. Submitting a Generic Resume

Here’s a common scenario: You see an appealing job posting and submit your resume, confidently knowing you’ll get an interview invite because of your impressive credentials, but you didn’t take the time to modify your resume to match the job. After a few weeks, when you haven’t heard back, you’re disappointed.

The chance of getting a job invite with a generic resume is low. This can be attributed to the use of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software that most companies use to sort and track job applicants.

When you apply for a job online, your resume doesn’t go directly to a recruiter. The ATS scans and processes your application first. Whether a human recruiter sees your application depends on the quality and keywords in your resume. These are words or short phrases that relate to specific job requirements and professional skills. An ATS overlooks as much as 75 percent of submitted resumes.

So how do you get your resume past these vicious ATS robots? The secret is to select and optimize the correct keywords on your resume by identifying and using the same in the job description.

Admittedly, tailoring each resume for every job is cumbersome, but it’s a sacrifice worth making.

2. Keyword Stuffing

Another common mistake on resumes, particularly among those with knowledge of how ATS’s work is keyword stuffing. While it’s essential to include the right keywords on your resume, do not be tempted to stuff your resume with keywords.

Once you’ve picked the right keywords, sprinkle them throughout your resume and spread them evenly throughout the entire resume. Add them to your summary, location, experience, and skills section of your resume.

Remember, the ATS is just a firewall that scrutinizes your resume. While you may have to impress a computer software first, you will ultimately deal with real people after scoring the interview. Keyword stuffing may successfully deceive ATS bots, but it won’t fool an experienced recruiter.

3. Not Backing Up Accomplishments with Metrics

Your accomplishments are probably the most intriguing aspect of your resume to potential recruiters. Every employer interested in your background will be interested in you replicating and exceeding those accomplishments in their organization.

A common mistake many job seekers make is displaying their accomplishments on their resume without providing evidence to back it up. A resume with generic phrases like “a strategic leader, adept at providing leadership” is unlikely to impress a hiring manager.

Employers want to know exactly what you have done and what you can offer. Be as specific as you can when describing your accomplishments. Say something like, “Led a team of five junior marketing staff at XYZ Company to generate a 50 percent increase in revenue within three months.”

Quantifiable, measurable, and trackable results appeal more to recruiters than using several buzzwords with no stat backing it up.

4. Favoring Objectives Over Professional Summary

Most hiring managers hate reading professional objectives. They don’t care about objectives like, “Looking for a marketing job in a fast-paced company.” You don’t need to state your professional objective; every recruiter already knows the reason you’re applying for a job.

Include your professional summary focusing on why you are the best candidate for the role instead. Don’t forget to include your skills, experience, and area of expertise.

5. Grammatical Errors

When you’re exhausted or applying to multiple jobs, sometimes writing mistakes happen that end up costing you an interview. Approximately 50% of recruiters immediately reject resumes with spelling or grammatical errors. A typo is an automatic veto for half of recruiters because they often interpret it as a sign of poor attention to detail.

Double or triple-check your cover letter for grammar and spelling mistakes before sending it to employers. And you should ideally have someone proofread your resume to take a second look, but you can also use free online grammar and spell-checking tools to review it.

Avoiding these common resume mistakes can save you a lot of time and effort. Remember, your resume has one goal: to get you a job interview. If your resume contains one or more of these snafus, make the necessary adjustments, and see what difference it can make to your job hunt.

Made changes to your resume and saw an increase in job interview invites? We want to hear about it! Share your story in the comments below.


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  • Jerry S.
    Jerry S.

    That's what I do wrong

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for your comments. It's true that you shouldn't rely on spellcheck alone. If possible, have someone else review your resume and application prior to submitting it. Typically, if you miss something, the other person will pick it up. As for the job postings, I have seen that as well. If you see too many typos in the job posting, it should give you pause and make you want to really check the company out before applying.

  • Rich M.
    Rich M.

    I see a lot mistakes in some of the postings. I watch what I'm writing and make sure the spelling and grammar are correct. Spell check is a great tool, but don't rely too much on it. Place names and a person name may be underlined in red, even though it is spelled correctly. Thank you very much.

  • Christopher A.
    Christopher A.

    an eye opener- Thanks a lot

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