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Career Advice

Common Resume Mistakes You Need to Avoid

When you’re ready to hunt for a new job, you may have more experience than all the other candidates combined, but if you don’t create an effective resume, you likely won’t get far in your search. There is an art to writing a CV that stands out for all the right reasons, and you need to avoid making some of the many common mistakes recruiters see time and again. Read on for some of the “oopsies” you should steer clear of when creating your job-application documents.

Not Tailoring Documents

For starters, a big no-no is not tailoring your information to the job you’re going for. Recruiters can tell if you’ve submitted a generic, template document, because your wording won’t be as focused or specific as it could be. While no doubt you’ll have one main working document you use as the basis for each of your submissions, it’s important to tweak your information for each role.

Do more than simply have a quick read over the job ad. Read it carefully, looking for keywords and phrases which are repeated often, and special requirements recruiters are looking for that you may not have mentioned in your current document. Sometimes you’ll find that ads ask applicants to prove they have particular skills, qualifications, or experience, even if these things seem like a given for the role to you.

Usually, if recruiters can’t see the exact information they’re looking for, they won’t consider a candidate further. As such, don’t assume the person reading your document will make the connections for you. Keep in mind, too, that lots of recruiters use HR software these days to sort through applications initially. These programs are given set words and phrases to search for, and if your documents don’t have these, your application will likely be discarded.

For each job you apply for, take time to research the company, position, and team involved. This will help you discover important facts, trends, or areas of focus that you can include in your CV to make you stand out from the crowd. Look for ways to tie in what you have done or achieved during your career to what you think is important not just for the role, but also for the company. After all, hiring decisions aren’t just based on how qualified someone is for the job, but also how well they’re likely to fit in with the company culture.

Poor Layout and Font Choice

Next, the layout of your document and the font you use is a key factor. Because most recruiters end up having to go through dozens if not hundreds of CVs each day, they simply don’t have the time to pore over each word. Instead, they scan documents to see if they can quickly find the information they’re searching for. If your resume is too hard for them to flit over, they may just put it down and move onto the next application.

You should break up your information into separate sections. Put key headings throughout (e.g. Profile or Summary, Work History, Education, Training, and Referees); and then use bullet points to convey the more detailed information in an easy-to-read way, rather than in large blocks of text.

Always put the most important information at the top of each section, too, because this is where the eye typically lands first. As well, leave out any irrelevant personal information, like favorite hobbies or family life, as this is something recruiters can ask about in interviews, if they want to know at all.

Avoid trying to cram too much onto each page. You need to leave room for white space (that is, parts of the page with no text or graphics) so that readers don’t get sore eyes or a headache from information overload. The font that you use is also important. Stick with the most commonly used options, such as Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri, and ensure the font size is large enough that no one has to squint to make out the words.

Typos and Other Errors

Lastly, keep in mind that a pet hate of recruiters, and something that can stop many applications from moving forward, is numerous typos and other errors (such as sentences which don’t make sense; grammatical errors; and formatting issues).

While you might think you’ve read over your document many times and have fixed up all mistakes, the fact is that humans are wired to see what their brains are looking for, meaning you can read over an error dozens of times without noticing it because you know what should be printed there.

Before you send in any job applications then, it pays to get someone with fresh eyes to take a close look at your work. While this can be a friend or family member, or even colleague, it does pay to consider hiring a professional resume checker. These professionals know exactly what to look out for, and can also give you tips on improving your document as a whole.



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