These 11 Resume Mistakes Could Be Costing You a Chance at the Perfect Job (But Professional Resume Writers Can Help)
- Using the Wrong Format
- Using Poor Grammar
- Failing to Address Employment Gaps
- Including Outdated Contact Information
- Including Old, Irrelevant Roles
- Listing Your References
- Including Outdated Skills
- Failing to Tailor Your Resume
- Not Listing Your Accomplishments
- Writing an Overly Lengthy Resume
- Not Properly Naming Your Resume
You’ve finally found it—your dream job! It’s everything you want in a new role, and you’re super excited to apply for it. A few days pass after you submit your application, then those days turn into weeks. One day, you receive a standardized rejection notice in your email inbox.
Unfortunately, this is a common experience for many job seekers, and it can often be a result of resume mistakes.
But don’t worry—there’s a solution for eliminating resume mistakes. The professional resume writers at YES can optimize your resume, making sure it stands out from the resumes of other candidates and is free of common errors. Here are several typical resume mistakes we see when helping our clients:
1. Using the Wrong Format
There are hundreds of resume templates to choose from. In Microsoft Word alone, you can access dozens of pre-filled templates to showcase your experience and education.
However, many job seekers make the mistake of choosing a colorful, graphic-heavy, visually appealing template that confuses applicant tracking systems (ATS)—and may turn off the hiring manager.
Most companies rely on an ATS to pre-screen resumes and rank candidates according to their relevant expertise. ATSs read resumes that are in simple formats. They’ll have trouble discerning the content of a resume that uses images and colored text blocks.
While a black-and-white resume may not show off your creativity, it’s easier for an ATS to understand. You won’t need to worry about your resume’s flunking the initial pre-screen just because you decided to use a few graphics.
If you can’t stand giving up your colorful resume, consider saving it for the interview. You can use your simplified resume for the initial online application and provide the hiring manager with a more attractive version. Just ensure both resumes contain the same information, so there is no unnecessary confusion.
2. Using Poor Grammar
Bad grammar and spelling in a resume reflect poorly on you, no matter how qualified you are for a role. They indicate you’re careless and don’t review your work before submitting it. A hiring manager who comes across a resume with typos and grammatical mistakes isn’t likely to hold you in high esteem.
When you’re drafting your own resume, you may easily overlook a mistake that someone else would immediately catch. Ask someone you trust (preferably someone with writing or editing skills) to review your resume before you use it to apply for jobs. Better yet—hire the professional resume writers at YES to perfect your resume.
3. Failing to Address Employment Gaps
An employment gap occurs when you are between jobs for longer than a month. Having an employment gap at some point in your career is common. Many people take time away from work for personal reasons, like caring for an elderly family member or young children.
If you have a long gap in your employment, you should address it on the resume so that no question marks arise. You don’t want the hiring manager to assume that your prior employer fired you or that you have personal issues keeping you from steady employment.
For instance, if you left your last job to pursue full-time study toward a new career path, list that in your resume. That way, the hiring manager will understand what you did with the time you took away from your career.
4. Including Outdated Contact Information
Have you moved or changed your phone number since you last applied for a job? If so, you’ll want to ensure the contact information on your resume is up to date and accurate. If you list a phone number or email address you haven’t used in the past few years, the hiring manager will have difficulty reaching you to schedule an interview.
Double-check your email address and LinkedIn details—a single typo can hurt your chances of ever hearing from the employer, even if you’re a top candidate for the job. Also make sure that the email matches your current name. Many candidates confuse hiring managers by having a previous surname on their email address instead of the name that appears on their resume.
5. Including Old, Irrelevant Roles
There are not many reasons to include experience that’s over ten years old. Technology constantly changes, so what you were responsible for back then may not be as relevant today. You’ve also probably progressed in your career since then.
For instance, maybe you held a role as a bookkeeper when you first started working in accounting, but since then, you’ve earned your CPA, and your current role is assistant controller.
Including outdated experience, especially in entry-level positions, can adversely impact how a hiring manager views your expertise. It also takes up valuable space on your resume that you could use for other things, like your skills and accomplishments.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule that merit consideration. Professional resume writers can optimize your resume to include only the most relevant positions and experience.
6. Listing Your References
Few employers use references to assess a candidate for a role. If they are going to check references, they will do that after they interview and decide on you, just to make sure they have not missed any major character issues.
Rather than including your references on your resume, keep them on hand and up to date in case the employer asks for them. You should also avoid putting the phrase “references available upon request” on your resume, as that goes without saying.
7. Including Outdated Skills
If you’ve been working for a while, you’ve probably accumulated skills that aren’t relevant to today’s working environment. Some examples of outdated skills include the following:
- Using a 10-key calculator
- Quantifying your typing speed
- Ability to fax or make copies
- Using outdated Windows systems like XP or Vista
Make sure to remove any outdated skills from your resume. You don’t want to appear as though you’re not current with today’s technology.
8. Failing to Tailor Your Resume
Your resume should include skills and experience that relate directly to the job you’re applying for. Every time you apply for a role, you should study the job description and then make sure your resume aligns closely with the opportunity you’re seeking.
For instance, if you’re applying for a job as a marketing manager, you should update your resume to include any specific skills pertinent to the role, like social media account management.
Of course, if you don’t have the skills the job requires, don’t lie about your experience. Even if your resume makes it past the ATS, the hiring manager will likely uncover your dishonesty during the job interview process.
Look in the job description for skills you have that might not be prominently displayed on your resume, then update it to include those skills. That way, you’ll increase the relevance of your resume to the role.
9. Not Listing Your Accomplishments
You list your responsibilities for each role you’ve held, but do you include a lot of accomplishments? Accomplishments provide additional insights into your tasks and how your work benefited your previous employers.
For example, saying that you handled B2B sales in your prior role as a regional sales director is a good start. However, if you increased B2B revenues by 20% over the past year, that’s a significant achievement that reflects favorably on your value.
Sharing your achievements can be the difference between going into the “Maybe” interview pile versus going into the “Yes” pile and being sought after by top employers.
If you’re unsure how to illustrate your prior accomplishments in your resume, partner with the professional resume writers at YES. We discover your achievements through our resume interview process and make sure they get the attention they deserve in our professionally written resumes.
10. Writing an Overly Lengthy Resume
Your career has been a significant part of your life, and you want hiring managers to see just how much you’ve accomplished in your prior roles. While that’s certainly understandable, you don’t want your resume to be so long that no one wants to read it.
Most new college graduates and entry-level professionals should limit their resumes to one page. Seasoned professionals can benefit from a two-page resume. If your resume passes the two-page mark, it’s too long and will hurt your chances when you apply for jobs.
If you’re having trouble cutting the fluff, hand the job to the professional resume writers at YES. We’ll eliminate excess details that don’t add value to your resume.
11. Not Properly Naming Your Resume
Most employers receive dozens of resumes for every open role they post. Your resume is one of many, and it can easily get lost if you don’t distinguish it from the resumes of other applicants.
Make sure to label your resume with an appropriate file name. Instead of saving it as “Resume” or “My Resume,” include your name in the description. For instance, if your name is Joe Smith, you can save your resume as “Joe Smith Resume.” That way, hiring managers and human resource professionals will easily locate it when needed.
You should also pay attention to your resume file type. Keep two options on hand—one in a DOCX format and another in a PDF. When applying for jobs, send the version that the employer requests. Your resume file type will end up in the rejection pile if it doesn’t meet the employer’s system requirements.
Professional Resume Writers Can Help You Put Your Best Foot Forward
Your resume is the only thing standing between you and an interview for your dream job. If your resume has mistakes, that can harm your chances of landing the role you know you deserve.
Fortunately, YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services is here to help. We create compelling and professionally written resumes highlighting your skills, experience, and accomplishments—100% free of mistakes. To get started, book your free consultation today. We’ll ensure your resume gets you interviewed, guaranteed.
About the Authors
Katherine Metres Akbar is the founder and president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services, one of Washington metro’s two top-rated career success companies. She and her team have helped over 5,000 people and organizations perfect their resumes, master networking, get interviews, receive offers for dream jobs, resettle employees through outplacement, and optimize their teams. Katherine is the world’s only Interview AikidoTM coach, a Certified Talent Optimization Consultant, Certified Professional Career Coach, and a Certified Professional Interview Coach. An award-winning writer, she previously served as a U.S. diplomat and executive director of a civil rights non-profit. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.
Michael Akbar is the co-owner and vice president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services. He is a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Federal Career Coach, Certified Business Advisor, and Certified Talent Optimization Consultant helping leaders build their dream teams. Michael leverages his business development background to help coachees get their dream job, often on the hidden job market. Michael has spent 15 years as an entrepreneur coaching business owners to break through their barriers to success. After talking his way into two jobs in order to get a work visa, Michael was inspired to create Interview AikidoTM to help people get jobs, even when they are underqualified. He holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Master of Science from the City University of London.
The home team is completed by Farah Akbar, a joyful, stubborn, and—some say—adorable terrier/pitbull mix the Akbars adopted from the shelter after a traumatic early life.