I've Read Hundreds of Resumes — If You Want a New Job, Check For These 4 Mistakes

woman updating her resume

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Steve Adcock at Wealth of Geeks
Steve Adcock at Wealth of Geeks
May 22, 2024 at 3:5AM UTC
Over the course of my career, I’ve read through hundreds of resumes. Maybe thousands. Too many candidates still make the same mistakes over and over, and it’s killing their chances of getting the job. These mistakes stick out to hiring managers like a sore thumb.
Chances are your resume has at least one of these mistakes, too.

These 4 mistakes are killing your chances of getting the job

Most hiring managers only need a few minutes with your resume to decide whether or not to give you a call for an interview. About 99% of resumes are discarded within minutes due to these mistakes. We see them all the time.
Want to increase your chances of getting hired? Don’t make these four mistakes.

1. You have spelling and grammar errors.

Spelling and grammar mistakes on your resume speak negatively to your attention to detail. Remember that to a potential employer, your resume is the only information they know about you. Your resume is the only thing standing between you and getting a call for an interview.
Spelling and grammar errors are the best way to encourage the hiring manager to ditch your resume outright, and this is especially true if you misspell important skills that you need for the job. And, this mistake is more complex than just spelling.
Proofread your resume for more than just spelling errors. It’s also important to use the correct word (i.e., there vs. their, etc.) and use commas and periods properly. Yes, most recruiters and hiring managers pick up on these mistakes quickly.
To prevent submitting a resume full of writing errors, ask friends and family to give your resume a read. A fresh pair of eyes is much better equipped to pick out problems that you read right over as the author of the resume.
Another technique is to use spell-checking applications like Microsoft Word. Or, install a writing and spelling tool like Grammarly into your browser to help catch the errors that are quick and easy to correct.
Spelling is often one of the easiest resume mistakes to fix.

2. It’s not tailored to the position.

If you submit the exact same resume to every job you apply to, you’re reducing your chances of a callback.
I’ve seen so many generic resume templates in my time that I could pick them out almost instantly. These resumes include experience and qualifications that are unrelated to the job.
The best resumes are those that are built specifically for the job requirements. They include only what the employer needs to know to properly vet you for the position. Nothing more.
Anything over two pages, and I’d quickly lose interest.
Carefully read the job requirements and pick out specifically listed qualifications. Then, craft your resume to prioritize and highlight your recent experience that relates to those requirements.

3. You include buzzwords and business jargon.

Here’s the truth: Buzzwords rarely improve your chances of a callback because they don’t reflect your achievements or qualifications for the job.
Here are some of the more common buzzwords to avoid: 
  • Passionate
  • Detailed-oriented 
  • Spearhead
  • Synergies
  • Team player
  • Problem-solver
  • Proactive
  • Objective.
In truth, there are too many of these words to list, and while their inclusion didn’t always convince me to ditch the resume, they certainly didn’t help.
Also, avoid using “My responsibilities included” or “Responsible for” on your resume. Instead, use a more active term like “Managed,” “Lead,” “Built” and “Created.”
Write like you normally would. Most of us don’t use words like “Ideate,” “Ninja” and “Disruptor” in our everyday lives.
And guess what? The recruiter doesn’t either.

4. You include too many skills and achievements.

This one goes right along with the “Tailor your resume” mistake I talked about above. The hiring manager probably doesn’t care about unrelated qualifications, and including them won’t improve your chances of a callback. In fact, it could make those chances worse.
Why? Because you come across as trying too hard, and hiring managers are busy.
A hiring manager’s time is valuable, and they don’t need to read about your unrelated accomplishments from 10 years ago. However, they also don’t want to read through a laundry list of computer apps that you’re “proficient” in when all they are looking for is a basic understanding of Microsoft Office.
Keep in mind that most hiring managers read through hundreds of resumes.
To avoid making this mistake, aim for a pointed one-page resume that focuses on the qualifications the employer is looking for. Trust me. The hiring manager will appreciate you respecting their time by only including what’s important in your tailored, polished resume.

What's the no. 1 mistake you see (or make) on resumes? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

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