Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make on their Resume

June 10, 2021

“It’s the little things, my friend, that will get you caught” – such a great line from the 2021 movie starring Denzel Washington and the Oscar award winner Rami Malek.

Even though it’s just a movie, the line is very important, and it applies in real life situations.

For instance, when it comes to creating a resume, it’s the little things that result in the biggest mistakes.

You need to understand employers have to read hundreds of applications when choosing a candidate. They’ve become accustomed to noticing and using simple mistakes to eliminate candidates.

Because of this, employers spend only 7.4 seconds skimming through your resume. The last thing you need is a resume with inconsistencies regarding your previous job titles and work experiences.

Anyways, let’s have a look at some of the common mistakes you might make on your resume.

Lack of Specificity

As a job seeker, you need to hit the nail on the head. Recruiters don’t want to know much about your hobbies or what your roles were in your previous job.

They simply want to know what you’ll be bringing to the table and how resourceful you’ll be to the company.

Don’t waste time listing your hobbies or mentioning where you went to school, which is still important (more on that later).

However, you’re applying to a specific job, whose job description was mentioned on the company’s job posting – so stick to it.

The trick is to read the job posting once more and customize your resume to align with what the company is looking for.

For example, if you’ve got both skills of a Data Analyst and a Statistician (which are almost similar), but the company is looking for an analyst, please reedit your resume to fit the skills recruiters are interested in.

Also, make sure your dates and job descriptions are specific. When mentioning your work experiences, don’t leave out the months when you started and terminated the contracts.

At the same time, unless it’s an entry job, no recruiter is interested in part time jobs you did more than six or ten years ago.

Top headhunters recommend including a part-time in a resume only if it’s relevant to the job for which you’re applying, and that it might help you land the job.

Lying and Not Supporting Your Claims  

You need to support what you claim, especially when describing your duties in past jobs and achievements.

Instead of stating you helped a company improve its sales, be specific and provide measurable evidence. 

For instance, you can state you contributed to the company’s improvement in sales from 1,240 to 1570 units per week. That’s not only specific, but it gives the recruiter a better picture of how valuable you are.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean you should lie. You may contradict yourself during a one-on-one interview.

Worse, the recruiter may do a little digging about the facts and figures you provided, which may refute what you claim.

Just be as honest as possible.

Remember, headhunters in your field of work tend to come from the same circle, some of whom discuss their candidates as a common recruitment technique. Once you lie or provide hyperbole facts in your resume, your name may be red-flagged thus costing you future job applications.

Getting Too Cute with Your Resume 

This is very common. The worst is that most job seekers don’t even realize they’ve gone that far with their resume.

It’s all about being “catchy” and never about having an “attractive” resume.

While a resume may be attractive, it may not have the necessary aspects recruiters are looking for – that’s the catchy part.

You need to “catch” a recruiter’s attention by being simple with the resume. It’s all about being attentive to the details and sticking to the job description.

Stay relevant and don’t get distracted with the resume’s format. Don’t add flowery borders or too much bolding on the subtitles.

Is the resume readable? Does it mention all the important aspects? Have you proofread the resume and deleted grammatical errors?

Because of this, you need to find the right resume template. Something that’s not only simple and neat, but a resume template that offers flexibility in terms of customization.

You can try Resumist.com as it lets you edit and customize your resume based on the job for which you’re applying.

So, What’s the Right Resume Builder?

As aforementioned, you can use resumist.com to create an amazing resume. Using its resume templates, you’re guaranteed the following:

  • Variable template formats (basic, infographics, etc.)
  • Word Docx, PDF and PNG file formats
  • Tips on how to customize the resume
  • Minimal grammatical errors
  • Platform to manage your career background and work history
  • Support of different languages

Apart from having watermarks on the resume, the resumist is a great platform to design and customize a simple and neat resume.

Obsession with Bolding and Italics

Although it’s advisable to bold important facts and italicize relevant highlights, don’t overdo it. Instead of bolding every company you worked for, it’s best to bold big firms.

For example, if the previous company worked for was a large corporation like Google or Microsoft (or company leaders in your field), you can bold them out.

But limit bolding and italics as much as possible.

Copy-Pasting Job Descriptions

Don’t be lazy and copy-paste the job description you were previously hired for. Be creative and paraphrase your duties.

Be specific and give an in-depth explanation of what you did, and how it’s relevant to the current job you’re applying to.

No recruiter wants to re-read job descriptions they’ve already gone through in your previous company. Try as much as possible to be less boring by making sure your resume isn’t nondescript.

Worse, some job seekers copy paste job descriptions of job postings they’re applying to. This is not only a deal-breaker, but it tells a lot about you – that you’re lazy.

For such job seekers, the reasoning behind copy-pasting is to show how “relatable” they are. But that’s simply laziness!

Saving Resume Using an Outdated Format

Well, this should be listed at the top as the first mistake. It’s the obvious deal-breaker.

Recruiters deal with a slew of resumes, and once your resume has the wrong or an outdated format, you risk being eliminated right away.

Those recruiting will reply to you with a generic message claiming to “thank you for applying to our post, but we’ve decided to look elsewhere.”

They won’t even have to read your resume. Your application will be all for nothing. So, make sure you have the latest formats.

Even if the job posting didn’t specify the format to use, it’s best to stay abreast of the latest technology.

My advice? Upload both Docx and PDF formats. It’s better safe than sorry.

To guarantee you’re safe, use resumist, which gives you different format options on how to save your resume.

Also, make sure you’ve saved the resume using both your names – Last Name then First Name. DO NOT save the resume using terms like “resume.revised” or “resume2” which is very common.

Lack of Links to LinkedIn and Social Media Sites

The internet has become our daily lifestyle. And it’s advisable to have profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter – but only if it’s helpful to landing the job.

Having such sites show how abreast you are with the latest technology. And that you are not afraid of people knowing more about you.

Of course, make sure the sites are not damning to your reputation.

Putting Education at the Top

While educational background is a vital aspect when looking for a job, it’s imperative you start your resume listing your experiences, and then enumerating schools you went to.

The objective is to save time – and space. By the time the recruiter reaches the second page of your resume, he or she should have an idea of your skills and experiences.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be keen on your education background. The important thing is to explain your capabilities before everything else.

The only exception is if the job is an entry one, and that you haven’t done much work since you graduated.

Not Explaining a Career Change

This is similar to lacking specificity. If your work experience entails a career change, it’s best to note this and explain why you made the move from one career to another.

Such cases occur when a job seeker puts everything he or she did under one resume.

You might be an expert in two fields. If so, be very careful and explain yourself. Make sure to do so at the top of the resume. Then explain why.

Better yet, you can use a resume builder to create two different resumes for each specific job description. At the bottom of either, you can put link to the other resume, explaining it as an alternate skill.

 The most important thing is to avoid the biggest mistakes job seekers make on their resume. When you do this, you’re halfway to landing the job you so desire.


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Kristina Kirby is a writer, who is passionate about technologies. Currently she’s working on a project Resumist.com, who helps users create professional resumes that impress recruiters and secure their dream-job.

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