12 Feb

5 Common Resume Mistakes & How to Fix Them

Posted by Brad Holtkamp

You’ve been on a job hunt for a while now but you haven’t been getting much in the way of callbacks. You’re a great candidate with plenty of experience and the right skill set. So why aren’t you landing any interviews? 

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Have you taken a good, hard look at your resume lately? Resume mistakes are much more common than you may think. You may have committed some of them. Don’t worry if you see any of these five common mistakes. It’s easy to fix them.

1. Typos and Grammatical Errors

This is the No. 1 entry on the list of resume mistakes for a reason. You’ve probably heard over and over again how detrimental it is to have typos or grammatical errors on your resume. They’ll automatically land you in the “no” pile. 

Despite how often people are warned about typos and grammatical errors, however, most resumes are still riddled with these kinds of errors. It’s easy enough to slip up, especially if you’re rushing to get an application in before a deadline. 

The cure for this is careful proofreading. Once you’ve proofread once, do it again. If you have the time, hand your resume over to a trusted friend, relative, or colleague. You can even send it to the recruiter you’re working with.

2. No Action Verbs

This is another grammar-focused mistake commonly found on resumes. People fall into the trap of using vague or non-specific verbs to describe their duties and responsibilities at various other posts they’ve held during their careers. 

Potential employers don’t really care what you were responsible for. They want to know what you did. Instead of saying you were responsible for supervising an engineering team, tell your potential employer you supervised six junior and intermediate technologists, for example. Be specific and quantify your responsibilities. 

This tip will also help you avoid making non-specific statements. It’s one thing to say you worked with engineers in a mine. It’s quite another to say you supervised and trained those engineers.

3. Incorrect Contact Information

Here’s something you wouldn’t think would be common among resume mistakes, but it’s surprisingly frequent: having incorrect contact information.

There are a few problems with this mistake. The most obvious is that your potential employer may not be able to get in touch with you if they wanted to. Have you wondered if maybe you’re not getting interview offers because your email address is incorrect?

Another issue is this mistake makes you look unprofessional. Did you just not check for accuracy or do you not know your own contact information? Are you recycling an old, outdated resume and couldn’t be bothered to update your details? It’s not a good look and it won’t make a good impression on an employer.

Double- and triple-check your contact details. If you can, have a friend or colleague test them out.

4. A Poor Design

One great resume tip being passed around right now is to use design to differentiate your resume. A great design can set your application apart from the pack. Not only is it more inviting to read, it’s also easier to remember.

Poor design could make your resume memorable for all the wrong reasons. Resumes with too many fonts, too many colours, or too much visual “clutter” will quickly give the reader a headache. You can be sure you’ll land in the discard pile just as quick as if there were a typo.

Use a tried-and-true template from a free online resource. Ask a friend or colleague to review your resume too.

5. The One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Do you customize your resume for every job you apply to? If not, you’re committing one of the most common resume mistakes

The good news is this is easy to fix. Simply customize your resume before you send it off. If you put in the time and effort, it will pay off in the form of an interview.


Topics: Job Search

Brad Holtkamp

Brad brings 15 years of Canadian and international staffing industry experience to his role as vice president, Western Canada. He’s an HRIA and TEC Canada member and has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Brad has significant experience providing staffing solutions for customers, with specific expertise in permanent search, contract recruitment, and payroll delivery. With a love of sports and the outdoors, Brad can often be found in a rink, on a bike, or in the mountains with his wife and two daughters.

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