5 Common Resume Mistakes

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by: Jeanette Hannan

It’s important to remember that recruiters receive a lot of applications for every role, so you need to do everything you can to stand out. Recruiters and hiring managers often go through an initial scan of each applicant’s resume, and if there’s anything immediately wrong, the document goes straight to the bottom of the pile. Avoid the following five common mistakes, and make sure that your resume is not letting you down.

Too many pages

Sensible career professionals know that they need a powerful and concise resume. Recruiters simply don’t have time to sift through endless pages of text, so aim to draft a resume of no more than two to three pages. Remember that recruiters are mainly interested in your most recent career experience, so a lengthy resume describing your twenty year career history will turn them off. Include all the right information that a recruiter needs to see, but use words cleverly.

Spelling and grammar mistakes

Recruiters and hiring managers do favour applicants with a good grasp of English. Spelling and grammar errors do not help you to demonstrate that you have excellent communication skills. Let’s face it your work looks sloppy if you let typing mistakes creep into the text.  Proofread your resume thoroughly, and make sure that it is completely error-free before you pass it into the hands of a recruiter or hiring manager.

Unexplained career breaks

Lots of successful people have career breaks however it’s crucial that you explain these periods of time in your resume. A recruiter will notice if there is a gap in the dates of your employment history, and they will always want to know why you weren’t working. Some candidates mistakenly believe that they can leave this discussion until the interview, but in a competitive employment market, many recruiters won’t even give you the chance to discuss this if they can’t see a basic explanation in your resume.


Too many people use the same tired words and phrases in their resumes. For example, lots of people use phrases like ‘a great team player’ or ‘an inspiring leader’, and they simply don’t mean anything.  Quantify your skills and achievements with facts and statistics, or your resume will fail to impress a potential recruiter. For example, if you have worked in the same industry for twenty years, you don’t need to tell a potential employer that you are ‘highly experienced’. Draw attention to more specific, valuable skills and achievements instead.

Assuming that one size fits all

You cannot send the same resume for every job you apply for. You need to tailor the document to each new role, adapting the way you describe your skills and experience to closely match the job requirements. You won’t always make significant changes, especially if you are applying for similar roles, but a recruiter wants to see that you have thoroughly researched what the employer needs. A small number of subtle changes can often make a big difference.

Many job seekers unwittingly alienate recruiters with their resumes, thanks to just one or two basic mistakes. Make sure your resume always creates the right impression, and avoid the sort of errors that many of your peers will probably make.

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