Does Your Resume Stand Out? Five Common Resume Mistakes

By Shana Marr

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

During my 15 years in recruiting I’ve gained a bit of insight into hiring leaders’ thought processes when a resume comes across their desk (if it even makes it to their desk). Of course, we all know the typical resume errors – misspellings, grammatical flaws, or it’s just too long – tip: a resume should be limited to 2 pages (or 3 pages max). 

But there are also some things you may not realize are keeping you from even being considered for a job opportunity. If you take the time to make a few changes, your resume will stand out above the rest!

Common Resume Mistakes
  1. Selling your ROLE instead of selling YOU
    • Your resume should be more about your accomplishments and less about your job duties. It should not read like a job description! Job duties tell the hiring leader or recruiter very little about you and your successes.
      • Ask yourself a few questions: Did I improve the efficiency of the team? Make an important customer happy? Save the company money?
      • Look at previous performance reviews – pull out any achievements or positive feedback
      • Ask former colleagues what accomplishments they recall from your time in the role
  2. The resume isn’t easy to read – hiring leaders review a resume for an average of 6 seconds before deciding if it’s worth considering further.  Your resume needs to grab their attention… and quickly!
    • If you’re an IT professional, your technical skills should be at the beginning of the resume.  Or if you’re applying to an accounting role and you’re a CPA, the reader should see this important credential within 1-2 seconds of looking at your resume. The hiring leader or recruiter will not take the time to hunt for these things and they’re vital for you to stand out above the other applicants!
    • If you had several roles at the same company, it should be very evident that all of those positions were at the same place so as not to appear job-hoppy at first glance (because remember, your resume may not get more than a brief look before the reader moves on to the next).
    • Use bullets instead of paragraphs. This is much easier to read and to quickly identify if you’re a potential fit for the role.
  3. Not tailoring your resume to the role – you don’t have to completely revamp your resume for every position; however, you should take at least 10-15 minutes to tweak it before submitting to a role, making sure relevant experience from the job description is listed.
    • For example, if a certain software is required or preferred and you have used it in the past, rearrange your technical skills so that software is listed first.
    • Let’s say you’re a hybrid accounting/finance professional.  You should have one resume geared more for accounting roles and another for finance. 
    • Also, keywords from the description must be included on your resume. This is important because when the leader or recruiter scans the resume, they’re looking for those key terms. Not only that, because of the ATS, your resume may not even be reviewed by a human being if certain words aren’t on it! A couple of good sites that will help with this are:
      • – just copy and paste the description and it will create a word cloud of the most used words.  You can actually add multiple descriptions of similar roles at once which is even more helpful.
      • – add your resume and the job description and this will tell you how closely they align.  If you get a poor score, you need to do more tailoring to get past the ATS.
  4. Aging yourself
    • Unless you graduated college in the last 2-3 years and therefore want to show why you lack experience, do not put your date of graduation on your resume.
    • Your experience only needs to cover 10-15 years.  If you prefer to go back further, you can add “Additional Relevant Experience” with the name of company, job title and location (no dates).
    • “Objective” statement is no longer used and is basically telling the hiring leader what you want from them.  They already know what type of role you’re interested in because you applied to the position! Instead, add a “Summary” section to highlight the value you bring to the them (tailored to the role).
    •  “References available upon request” – again, same as above, this is not needed.  The hiring leader knows if they ask you for references, you will provide them. There’s really no reason to state the obvious.
  5. No LinkedIn profile – You may not realize it, but let me be clear, when job searching a LinkedIn profile is no longer optional.  Your profile should have a professional photo, list your experience (this should mirror your resume) AND the link should be on your resume. 

There are sometimes 1000’s of applicants for a role (daunting, I know)…Avoid these common mistakes and your resume will have a much better chance of getting noticed! Also, be sure to have someone else proofread it to catch any small oversights (they may seem unimportant, but they can cause the leader or recruiter to think you aren’t detail-oriented). 

And remember – you bring your experience and expertise to the table and there is only one of you!  A positive attitude and confidence in yourself can go a long way! 

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