The average hiring manager takes less than 10 seconds to decide whether to throw your resume in the trash or call you in for an interview.
As the Director of IT, it often took me less than that.
Before retiring, I worked a wide variety of jobs in the tech sector. One of them included managing an information technology department for a healthcare not-for-profit, and hiring staff was a big responsibility. Hiring the right staff was crucial to our success.
As the director, my time was extremely valuable. I reviewed hundreds of candidates for jobs. If your resume didn’t efficiently sell your skillset for the job, I would toss it aside in seconds.
It did not take me long.
In fact, I couldn’t afford to spend more than 10 or 15 seconds on each resume, but most of the time, I did not need that long.
I’ve seen every resume under the sun. The good ones. The bad ones. And, everything in-between. I can spot a great resume from a mile away, but I can also pick out the elements of a resume that would kill your chances of a callback.
Below are the top 5 mistakes that too many job seekers make on their resumes, and those mistakes are sentencing resumes to a life in the circular repository.
These 5 Resume Mistakes Are Killing Your Chances Of Getting Your Next Job
Mistake #1: Obvious spelling or grammar errors
This is especially true if you’ve misspelled one of the technologies or skillsets that I am looking for. If you can’t at least spell those things correctly, then that tells me your attention to detail is not what it needs to be for the job.
Or, any job.
Spelling and grammar errors are the best way to encourage the hiring manager to ditch your resume outright.
Remember, your resume should put your best foot forward. Your absolute best work. If you overlook spelling and grammar errors on something as important as a resume, then what assurance do they have that you’ll add value as an employee?
Pro tip: This includes more than just spelling words correctly. It’s also about using the correct word (ie: there vs. their, etc) and using commas and periods properly. Yes, most recruiters and hiring managers pick up on these mistakes, quickly.
To avoid making this mistake, ask friends and family to proof-read your resume. A fresh pair of eyes is much better equipped to pick out problems that you, as the author of the resume, read right over.
And, someone else might identify a gap or inconsistency on your resume that might give a recruiter cause for concern. That gap is clear in your head, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be clear in the head of the recruiter. Remember he or she doesn’t know you.
Another technique is to use applications with built-in spell-checkers, like Microsoft Word, to design your resume. Or, install a writing and spelling tool like Grammarly into your browser to help catch the easy errors that are quick to correct.
Spelling is often one of the easiest resume mistakes to fix.
Mistake #2: Too long, too many skills, accomplishments or achievements.
Believe it or not, resumes that are too long or include too many achievements or recognitions may not boost the likelihood of a callback for an interview. Why?
Because you’re trying too hard, and hiring managers are busy.
A hiring manager’s time is valuable, and he or she doesn’t want to read about that project you completed in the nick of time 10 years ago, or a laundry list of computer apps that you’re “proficient” in when all they are looking for is a basic understanding of Microsoft Office.
Remember that most managers read hundreds (or thousands) of resumes every year, and the average recruiter only takes 6 seconds to read each resume.
To avoid making this mistake, aim for a pointed and direct one-page resume. Respect the hiring manager’s time by only including your qualifications specific to the job.
And, this is related to the next mistake. If your resume isn’t tailored for the position that you’re applying for, it tends to show and you are diminishing your chances of a callback.
Mistake #3: Not focused or tailored for the position.
I’ve seen so many stock boilerplate resumes in my time that I could pick them out almost instantly. These resumes include experience and knowledge that are unrelated to the job.
Most recruiters can quickly pick out the resumes that were sent in bulk to a long list of organizations. And, there’s no possible way that a single version of your resume will be right for every job opportunity.
The best resumes are those that were built specifically for the job requirements. These job seekers wouldn’t just plop down everything under the sun onto their resumes, assuming that knowledge in unrelated topic areas would somehow help.
As I said above, including too much can hurt your chances at getting a callback.
Instead, the best resumes were short and focused.
They included only what I needed to know to properly vet the candidate for the position. Nothing more. They were typically a page long – maybe a page and a half, max.
Anything over two pages and I’d quickly lose interest. Too much unrelated material. I don’t care about your general competencies, or that you’re a “team player” or a good “problem solver”. Everybody claims to be a good problem solver.
That tells me nothing.
I care about your experience and knowledge that directly relates to the position. Tell me what I need to know, not what I don’t.
To avoid making this mistake, carefully read the job requirements and pick out specific listed qualifications. Then, craft your resume so it prioritizes and highlights your experience that relates to them.
If you’re a seasoned professional, you will probably have enough experience under your belt to NOT include every little achievement that you’ve ever had in the workforce.
An example: I would often need a candidate with specific expertise in two or three different programming technologies. I would get resumes from job seekers with 15 or 20 technologies listed, and the ones that I was looking for were jammed somewhere in the middle of the list.
More times than not, I’d plop that resume into the trash.
Mistake #4: Too many business buzzwords or jargon
Once again, I need to go back to how important it is to respect the time of the recruiter or hiring manager. Buzzwords almost never improve your chances of a callback because they don’t reflect your achievements or qualifications for the job.
And, it takes the hiring manager more time to read your resume.
What are some of the buzzwords that you should leave off of your resume? Here are several examples:
- Detailed oriented
- Team player
- Problem solver
There are too many to list, but those are some of the most common buzzwords I’ve seen, and while their inclusion didn’t always convince me to ditch the resume, they certainly didn’t help.
And, don’t begin your job responsibilities with “My responsibilities included” or “Responsible for”. Instead, use a more active term like “Managed”, “Lead”, “Built” or “Created”.
To avoid making this mistake, just write like you normally would. Most of us don’t use words like “Ideate”, “Ninja” and “Disruptor” in our everyday lives.
And guess what? The recruiter doesn’t either.
Write professionally, but resist the temptation to include big words or annoying buzzwords or phrases. Usually they won’t help.
Another one of those easy resume mistakes to fix.
Mistake #5: Missing, unclear or unprofessional contact information
For most of us, the goal is to get that callback. We want to land the interview. It is your job to make that process as easy as possible.
So, don’t make the recruiter or hiring manager hunt for your contact information. Make it clear and obvious, and never include an email address that’s unprofessional.
What’s an unprofessional email address?
You get the idea. The email address that you put on your resume is a reflection on you, so make sure that it’s professional. If you have to create a brand new Gmail address just for your resume, do it.
And, this includes the voicemail recording on your phone, which is something that many candidates forget about.
Make it professional.
Also, here is a pro tip: Never embed your contact information inside of an image on your resume.
Why avoid using an image? Because many organizations use automated text readers to grab the contact information for candidates, and most text readers cannot read the “text” inside of images.
To avoid making this mistake, always include your contact information at the very top of your resume.
What should be included? It is customary to include the following contact details on your resume:
- Your full name
- Mailing address
- Email address
- Telephone number
Are You Making One Of These Resume Mistakes?
Resume mistakes are common, and most recruiters get way more resumes than there are jobs. As a result, they have the luxury of being picky, and to ruthlessly ditch resumes with mistakes.
Check your resume. Then check it again. Never forget that your resume is very often your first (and only) impression that you’ll give to a recruiter or hiring manager.
Make it your best.