Let's get into it, going from most detrimental to your success to least:
Using an inappropriate resume design for your target job.
The overall look and design of your resume is obviously the FIRST thing a potential employer notices. If it’s eye-catching and well spaced out, it peaks the reader’s interest.
But it’s not about just choosing whichever resume template you want. You have to keep the target job in mind, because if the style you choose isn’t appropriate for the job you’re applying for, you might not be taken seriously.
If you’re applying for a marketing or sales job, choose something a bit modern that stands out (like this modern resume design). You can use modern, sans-serif fonts, a two-column style, some color, and even your photo.
If you’re applying for a job in a conservative field (accounting, law, executive positions), choose something more professional. The heading or name fonts can be serif fonts, and use muted professional colors - gray, navy blue, black, beige.
If you’re applying for a more conservative job, and your name on your resume is in a cutesy font or includes purple accents throughout the resume, chances are the reader will be immediately turned off and your resume may end up in the reject pile. I don’t care if your favorite color is purple, bright teal, or neon green - leave it off your resume if you want to be taken seriously. Don’t forget, your resume isn’t for YOU - your resume is for your potential employer and should be targeted towards them. You need to compromise and find a design you like, while keeping your target audience in mind.
Uploading your resume in a format not compatible with your resume template.
LISTEN UP. This error will cost you every single job you apply to.
If you’re using a resume template, even a very basic style, then you should only be uploading/emailing your resume in PDF format.
This applies to nearly everyone because MOST OF YOU are using a resume template these days. Yes, even those boring old Microsoft Word resume templates count, because many of them use tables, which are hard for computers to read in Word format.
A PDF is basically a photo of your resume. Your resume in PDF format will look perfect on any device, even a cell phone.
That CANNOT be said for Word files. If you’ve ever opened a Word file inside of your email browser, you know the formatting can go crazy. And some applicant tracking systems have trouble reading tables and text boxes in Word format.
So play it safe. Always email your resume in PDF format. And if PDF is one of the accepted file formats for the job site (most accept them now), then upload your resume as a PDF.
If for some reason you absolutely have to upload your resume in Word format, don’t use a template. Open a blank Word file, copy/paste your resume info into a blank page, and then select all the text and hit Clear Formatting.
You should upload your resume in PDF format if your resume:
- Has two columns
- Is made up of tables, text boxes, or columns (even a column inside a full-width resume format, to break up your skills into 2 columns, for example)
- Uses fonts other than the handful of common, standard system fonts (Times, Arial, Helvetica, etc.)
- Has any graphics (including big blocks of color), icons (for your contact info), or images
And if you’re unsure, just upload in PDF format to play it safe!
Making these extremely common spelling mistakes (that won’t be caught by spellcheck)
Even my brightest customers get this one wrong:
Lead vs. Led
If you’re referring to a job you held in the PAST, use LED (past tense).
If you’re still at the job, use LEAD (present tense).
I always see customers using LEAD for their past jobs, which is incorrect. Since spellcheck won’t catch it, and the reader can’t help but think you’re a bit lazy for not reading over your resume and catching the error.
Perform vs. Preform
If you type too quickly, you may mean to type “Perform” and get “Preform” instead, which is still a word, but one that usually doesn’t belong on a resume.
Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure
You “assure” Sally that her hair looks great (to make someone confident of something). You “ensure” that projects get completed on time (to make certain). Yes, they’re very similar, but “assure” is usually used with people, and “ensure” when you’re talking about anything else. You’ll use “insure” if you’re in the insurance industry. Confusing, I know. Most of you will be using ENSURE on your resume.
Affect vs. Effect
Affect is a verb, and effect is a noun, in most cases. Instead of getting into it, let’s just say that I wouldn’t use either of these on your resume. Many of my customers use “affected” and “effected” and neither sounds good. Use “impacted” or “resulted in” instead to avoid any confusion.
Adept vs. Adapt
Instead of typing “Adept in” (aka “skilled in”) you might accidentally type “Adapt” instead, and spell-check won’t catch it.
Orientated vs. Oriented
I often see people write “Customer-orientated position” or “customer service orientated job.” Orientated is not the word to use here, people! You mean to say oriented. Customer-oriented is correct. Orientated IS used in the same way as oriented in the UK, but if you’re in the US, use oriented.
Separate vs. Seperate
Separate is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language - so if you’re using it in your resume or cover letter, make sure you double-check this one! Separate is correct, seperate is not. But luckily, spellcheck should pick this one up!
Many times applicants will ask me why their resume isn’t getting any bites, and once I see it, there are usually a few spelling mistakes and/or VERY obvious punctuation errors (ex., putting a comma at the end of a bullet instead of a period). These tiny errors scream to the hiring team that you don’t care enough to make sure something is correct before sending it off. Just a few extra minutes can prevent your resume from landing in the NO pile.
Writing your Technical Skill entries incorrectly (even if they are SPELLED correctly)
If you claim to be an expert in WordPress or PowerPoint, but you can't write it correctly, your claim isn't going to be taken seriously (because if you use a program everyday, shouldn’t you know how it’s written, since you’ve seen it SO many times?).
In nearly every resume I see, these common technical skills are written incorrectly.
They are SPELLED correctly, but you might be adding a space in between words, or not capitalizing the correct letters.
For example, these are wrong:
- Word Press
- Power Point
- Quick Books
These are CORRECT:
Take the time to Google the correct names of the programs you claim to be good at to save yourself some embarrassment!
NOT putting your address on your resume
In certain situations, you might be tempted to avoid putting your address on your resume (relocating, work-from-home job, etc.).
However, not having an address on your resume can disqualify you before your resume is even looked at.
Many application systems sort applicants by location (favoring closer proximity to work), and if you don’t have a city and state listed, you might get skipped over as your resume wouldn’t even show up, or it would show up at the very end of the list.
For best results: list your city and state.
Do not list your complete street address, because your house/street may be looked up and judged (I have seen it happen).
Once you’re hired, you will obviously give your entire street address. There is no reason why it needs to be on the resume!
Squishing your resume onto 1 page
Listen up. I don’t care if your mentor, advisor, coworker, or your mom told you to keep your resume to 1 page.
They tell you that because years ago, the “1 page rule” existed. It is no longer valid. Common sense rules now.
If your resume is really meant to be a 1.5-2 page resume, and you try to cram it onto 1 page with tiny margins and tiny text, it’s going to look like crap, be painful to read, and therefore won’t get read.
However, if you can create a well spaced out 1 page resume and it’s easy to read in size 10 pt font (yes, 10 is big enough for most fonts), then by all means keep it to 1 page!
FOR BEST RESULTS:
* Disregard any “rules” and above all, make sure your resume is easy to read and well spaced out
* Keep your most important, targeted information on page 1 (just in case page 2 does not get read)
Not shortening your LinkedIn URL
When creating a PDF file from a Word file, sometimes the links (ex. to your email or LinkedIn) do not transfer over.
This is a Word issue that has been going on for years. So, if the employer tries to click your LinkedIn link, and it doesn’t work, they’ll be typing it into the web browser instead.
Don’t make this hard for them by leaving your LinkedIn URL looking all crazy like this: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samantha-lastname-674590
Most of you still don't realize you can do this, but you can customize the URL to get rid of all of those numbers.
FOR BEST RESULTS:
* Shorten your LinkedIn URL to linkedin.com/in/first-lastname
Want more tips? Check out my Guide to Landing the Job, free with every resume template purchase.
RELATED: Applying to jobs on Indeed? This one mistake could be costing you the job.