Avoid These 5 Resume Mistakes

As seen on Forbes.

I know firsthand that the job search can feel like a full-time job in itself. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of people submitting hundreds of applications without ever hearing back, getting ghosted before interviews, and being rejected for roles for no real reason. The unfortunate truth is… there are variables that you can’t control when it comes to hiring.

But one thing that will significantly help your chances is you learning from experience and owning what you can change. And if you’re not getting interviews consistently with your resume, it’s a big sign that your resume needs work. In this article, we will uncover five of the biggest (and most common) mistakes I’ve seen applicants make on their resumes and ways to improve them.

1. Using a Generic Resume For Everything

The key to landing more interviews is having a resume that proves you can do the specific job that you are going for. One way not to accomplish that is to have a generic resume for dozens of different types of roles. What you want to do instead is tailor your resume each time. This means studying the job description first and then highlighting certain skills and experiences that are most relevant to the role.

For example, if you’re looking for a role in sales and marketing, you want to showcase that you know how to sell! You can do this by highlighting how much you contributed to your previous employer’s sales figures and the number of outbound deals you brought in. All recruiters screening for a sales development representative (SDR) role will be looking for resumes that include information on lead conversion rates, pipeline growth, meeting sales quotas, and more. If you can showcase it to them easily, they will be much more likely to interview you.

2. Using a Template That Confuses the ATS

If you’ve never worked in human resources, chances are good that you’ve never heard about applicant tracking systems (ATS). When they work, they make recruiters’ lives a lot easier by automating various parts of the recruitment process. ATS are particularly useful for keyword parsing, which helps them find and identify relevant keywords and phrases.

Pretty cool, right? Well, yes and no. As powerful as these tools have become, it can be easy to confuse them if you use a template they are not familiar with. Don’t worry, it won’t reject your resume completely, but it may have difficulty categorizing your information in a way that is helpful for the recruiter.

To play it safe, don’t include graphics, columns, or any other fancy visuals that can make your resume hard to “read.” For most roles, I recommend keeping it simple and using a classic resume template like the one you can find on our website for free.

3. Including Sensitive Information 

What classifies as sensitive information can vary among countries and applicable data privacy laws. However, it’s generally accepted that including overly personal information such as your home address, marital status, date of birth, and social security number (yep, I’ve seen it before) are not only unnecessary, but they can also put you at risk for identity theft and fraud.

A good rule of thumb is this: if it doesn’t make you look more desirable as a job candidate, don’t put it in your resume. A recruiter doesn’t need to know your exact address, how old you are, and whether you have children, so don’t put it there.

4. Including Only Soft Skills

Are you a hard worker, detail-oriented, and diligent team player? Well, guess what? So is everyone else!

Now, I am not trying to downplay those qualities because those are great traits that people should strive to aim for. But the problem becomes when those are the only skills you include on your resume.

Remember, your resume is meant to prove you can do the job you are going for. And chances are, you will need more than just generic soft skills to do it really well. What you want to do instead is highlight industry-specific skills and relevant coursework that showcase you have the required background to succeed. Pro tip: these skills are often already listed in the job description!

5. Downplaying Your Impact

Writing your accomplishments on your resume is not natural for most of us, but you are doing a disservice to yourself by playing small. I see so many candidates make the mistake of just listing out the bullet points of their job responsibilities and then stopping there. But they leave out the part that recruiters and hiring managers want to see most: the impact of their work!

So this is what I recommend you to do instead. If you were a social media marketer, instead of writing: “responsible for managing website analytics,” you want to elevate your results and showcase exactly how you did it.

You can instead write a bullet point like this: “Increased web traffic by 110% by establishing digital marketing strategy and tracking analytics for 13M+ visitors/month.”

The formula to write compelling bullet points is Action Verb + Situation + Impact. Start with a strong action verb, color in the details with the situation, and finish with impact metrics. Do that and you’ll have a winning resume! Now that you know the mistakes to avoid, you are ready to go off and write that resume to get that role! 

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