You’re not customizing your resume for each job applicationTake a close look at the posting for the job you are applying for – the job duties, the qualifications, experience, etc. Pull buzzwords and phrases from the job posting and reword your resume using similar language. Whether your resume is being filtered by a computer or scanned by human resources staff your resume is more likely to be pulled for consideration if you describe the same experience and qualifications listed in the job posting.
Example of tailoring your resume
- Job duty from posting: Facilitate individualized assessments for clients regarding their financial goals.
- Responsibility on your resume: Created custom financial assessments for clients.
You fill space with meaningless or useless text
Be as specific and detailed as possible when describing your work experience, avoiding generic statements that could apply to just about any position. Either add specific details or take it out, otherwise it takes attention away from the quality material you have in your resume.
Objective and reference statements (e.g. “References Available Upon Request”) are also unnecessary – your objective is obviously to get the job and they’ll ask for references if needed.
Example of generic resume text
Listing “supervised a small team for special projects” as one of your job responsibilities is too general and is assumed for most management positions. Instead, give an example of a special project you lead and the result it had on your organization.
Your resume looks messy or outdatedYour resume is an advertisement and you’re the product – make sure it looks appealing! Good design will not only improve the appearance of your resume, but will also make it easier for both people and computers to read. A professional resume looks modern, organized, and consistent.
Example design tips for resumes
- Keep section titles short and descriptive, e.g. Work Experience, Education, Skills, etc.
- Using headings for your section titles – this will provide consistent styling and enable readers to easily scan your resume.
- Use a a sans serif font like arial or helvetica for a modern appearance. This will also ensure your resume looks consistent regardless of what computer is used to open the file.
- Whatever you do, be consistent (e.g. if you bold one job title, bold all job titles).
- Use dark colors to highlight contact information, headings, or other important information; stick with one color or shades of single color to avoid having your resume look like a kindergarten project.
Your resume has spelling and grammar errors
Don’t rely on spellcheck alone to edit your resume, as it may miss homophones (e.g. its vs. it’s or to vs. too) or suggest grammar changes that don’t apply to the fragmented style of resumes. Even if you are confident about your own grammar skills, it always helps to have someone take a look. Ask a friend or family member for help, or check out your local library – many provide free resume advising. In the least, use a free grammar check tool like Grammarly.
If you currently work at a job, be sure use present tense verbs when describing your job duties, otherwise, use past tense verbs. Whenever possible, use active voice as opposed to passive voice. See the SimplyHired blog for examples of using active voice.
Examples of good grammar for your resume
- Make sure all words are spell correctly and that you’re using the correct word
- Be consistent with your punctuation
- Use active verbs when describing your work experience and accomplishments