12 Top Resume Mistakes That May Cost You A Job

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October 20, 2023                                                                                                                             

12 Top Résumé Mistakes That May Cost You A Job

Having a résumé that works for you is essential in the job marketplace. No matter how qualified you are, one seemingly small résumé mistake can make the difference between landing your dream job or losing out on an opportunity to be interviewed. Based on surveys conducted, the top 12 biggest résumé errors that cause job recruiters to reject candidates are:

1. Spelling and grammatical errors

Spelling and grammatical errors top the list of deal-breakers that will result in applicants being eliminated in the first round of screening. To prevent this from happening to you, always use a free editing tool like Grammarly to scan your résumé for contextual spelling mistakes that spell check won’t be able to detect. The premium version of this tool gives you access to even more sophisticated features that will raise your writing to another level.  It is also a good idea to have someone else edit your résumé to identify errors you would have missed in the first place.

2. Inaccurate or omitted contact information

It goes without saying that if the contact information you provide is incorrect or missing, the HR recruiter will have some difficulty getting in touch with you. This will not create a good impression of your competence and professionalism when compared to other candidates and may result in your elimination.   It is always a good idea to include both mobile and email contacts on your résumé.

3. Using an unprofessional email address

When you were a teenager or a young adult, choosing a colourful email address such as bigand beautiful@yahoo.com may have been chic. However, when you enter the job market, your email address will tell potential employers a lot about you. You don’t want your email address to divert attention away from your suitability for the position you are seeking. 

4. Outdated or irrelevant information

There is a difference between preparing a CV and a résumé. You should spend some time acquainting yourself with the modern standards of résumé writing. However, the information you include should be relevant to the job you are applying for. Details such as your age, hobbies, gender and marital status may not be necessary and expose you to possible elimination for discriminatory reasons.

5. Showcase quantifiable results

Your résumé should be used as a medium to showcase accomplishments in the positions you have held and to provide quantifiable results that can be used by a recruiter as a gauge of what you might achieve if appointed to a new position. In the absence of that type of information, a recruiter may be led to believe you are not a highly motivated goal-oriented person.

6. Annoying buzzwords and/or obvious keyword stuffing

Avoid overusing keywords, buzzwords and clichés in your résumé. Keywords may be important if applicant tracking software (ATS) is used by the recruiter to screen out unqualified candidates. But you should ensure they are not used excessively so they become an annoyance to the reader. 

7. Failure to customize your content

Some work is usually required to tailor your résumé to suit the job you are applying for. Recruiters will know if you fail to tweak it to suit the job and may consider you lazy. This can be a deal breaker in their eyes and result in your elimination.

8. Repetitive words or phrases used in multiple job descriptions

When a recruiter encounters the same phrase or phrases on a résumé, it becomes redundant and results in a loss of interest. It can also give the impression that not enough effort was made in its production.

9. Including a headshot photograph

Unless it is specifically requested, it is usually not a good idea to include a photograph of yourself in your résumé. It can be interpreted as poor judgment and can expose you to discrimination.

10. Elaborate Format and/or design


Do not attempt to be too artful in the presentation of your résumé. Avoid using fancy fonts, choose a suitable font size and lots of white space so that it allows the recruiter to easily find the information required. If your pages are too crowded, important information may likely be skipped over. Avoid using dense blocks of text or too many bullets since these may also be a turn-off to recruiters. Instead, use a mix of short paragraphs to describe your role and bullet points to highlight your relevant qualifications, contributions, and achievements.

11. Too Lengthy

A well-written résumé should not exceed one page and in the extreme be no more than two pages long. The recruiter should be given only information that is sufficient to decide on your suitability for the job.

12. Using an Objective Statement Instead of A Professional Summary

A résumé objective statement is usually one or two lines long and talks about your goals. Here’s a common example of a generic résumé objective:

“Motivated, fast learner who recently graduated with a degree in [___]; looking for opportunities in the [___] field that will allow me to leverage my [___] skills.”

 A résumé summary statement, on the other hand, focuses on highlighting your qualifications (i.e. your selling points) for the job you’re targeting. Using a résumé objective statement suggests that you are not up to date with modern practice.

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