Whether you’re a recent college grad or a seasoned professional looking for new opportunities, it never hurts to revise your résumé. This is your introduction to a possible future employer, so you’ll want to give a great first impression. Here’s a list of some common résumé mistakes you can look for before hitting “submit” on a job application.
1. Not Proofreading
Something as simple as a spelling or grammar error could cost you a job. Make sure to triple-check every résumé you send. It’s also a good idea to have a couple of other people spellcheck for you too. They may find something you didn’t notice.
2. Unprofessional Contact Information
Still using something like email@example.com as your email? It’s probably time to get a new email address. When choosing a more professional address, a good rule of thumb is to use your name (or a version of your name) and maybe a number or two if you have a common name (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’ve recorded a personal greeting on your phone’s voicemail, make sure it's professional as well.
3. Irrelevant Information
If you shoehorn unnecessary information into your résumé, your prospective employer could miss the important stuff. It isn’t always necessary to include your high school retail job or that summer you spent mowing lawns. If you’re a new graduate, you aren’t expected to have an extensive résumé; so, keep only the important information. Don’t include things like hobbies or interests. A résumé is just for career-related details. The employer will get to know you in an interview.
4. Missing Buzzwords
Many companies now use applicant tracking systems to gather your résumé’s information. These allow employers to sift through all their applicants’ résumés using specific keywords. If yours doesn’t contain the words they’re looking for, it won’t be seen. Include keywords or phrases from the job listing and place them into your résumé as applicable. However, don’t try to jam things in that don’t fit (see #3 above).
5. Not Customizing Your Résumé
Every résumé you submit should be customized to fit the job you're looking for. Figure out how your experience fits into a given position's job description and word your résumé as appropriate. While this may take extra time, it highly increases your chances of being seen, scoring an interview, and landing that job.
6. Disorganized Content
On average, an employer will spend six seconds looking at your résumé. If they can’t quickly and easily find information such as your education, current job, or other applicable information, don’t expect a call anytime soon. Make sure there are bold headers and bullet points to separate information.
7. "References Available Upon Request"
Adding "references available upon request" is simply a waste of valuable space. If you haven’t listed references on your résumé, some employers may already assume they’ll have to ask you for them. They will either note that in the application or request you to provide them later.
8. Distracting Elements
With only six seconds to make an impression, you don’t want an employer to get sidetracked. Don’t include photos, graphics, or fonts that are hard to read. While different fonts can help separate information (such as a job title and job duties), limit it to two professional fonts. Using a little color can be appropriate depending on the industry, but keep it to muted tones
It’s all about how you present your information, not the amount. White space is your friend on résumés. Don’t make font too small in order to jam in more information. Ideally, font should never be smaller than 12 point.
10. Missing Cover Letter
Always assume a cover letter is required for each application you submit. Many H.R. managers won’t even look at your résumé if a letter isn’t included. This may be time consuming and can feel redundant, but it will all be worth it when you land that job.