In life, few rewards come without risk. Take your dream job, for instance. If you want to land that position you’ve been dreaming about, you’ll need to make a great first impression.
When you’re applying for jobs, that all comes down to your resume. Every little detail makes a big difference. For example, a small mistake could take you out of the running for a job you’re qualified for.
In this article, we’ll tell you about the biggest mistakes you need to avoid, from simple stuff like typos to big oversights like leaving out relevant unpaid experience. Some of these mistakes may surprise you, especially since they’re easy errors to make. Here are five resume mess-ups you need to avoid, brought to you by our sponsor, LinkedIn.
1. So you know to avoid spelling mistakes. But how do you do that?
One good way to make sure you’re not making any silly errors is by taking advantage of some free online editors. For instance, Typely is a free, easy and reliable tool that edits your resumes, essays, creative writing and more.
All you have to do is head to the site, open the editor, clear out the example text (which you’ll see on the left-hand side of the image below) and you’re good to go. Here’s what the website looks like:
Typely notices all types of errors, from typography errors to cliches, redundancy, cursing, consistency and more. Not only that, but it also analyzes your writing’s statistics, like characters, words, reading time, difficulty reading and vocabulary. (Most interestingly, it can analyze your sentiment to let you know if you’re coming across as positive or negative.)
Plus, you can use Typely to manage documents or export them to Google Docs. There’s also the option to generate a PDF report or even use a text-to-speech program to see how your words sound to your readers. Overall, you’re getting a ton of helpful features without spending a penny.
You may also want to check out Grammarly, an all-encompassing spelling and grammar checker.
2. Don’t use an old and unprofessional email address
If you’re still using the same address you had when you were 12, it’s time to stop. Create a new inbox for your professional needs with your first and last name, so people know it’s you.
If you have something vague like [email protected], that’s going to look confusing to recruiters. They might even wonder if you’re a bot account instead of a legitimate job applicant.
Plus, it can be a little embarrassing for your boss to see your personal email. If you’ve ever posted it online, they could conduct an internet search and potentially uncover some unsavory places you’ve been.
Think for a moment about every website you’ve ever signed up for with this email. Chances are, at least one of them might be weird to explain to an employer.
Even if not, it was likely involved in some sort of data breach (those are so common, almost no person is immune). That’s another way your boss could see where you’ve been online. Even if that doesn’t embarrass you, it could still feel like an invasion of privacy. Tap or click here for a quick and free way to tell if your email has ever been leaked in a data breach.
3. Don’t write a wall of text
You can have the most excellent piece of writing in the world. It can detail your work experience and how it lines up perfectly with the position you’re applying for. But if you format that text in a visually unappealing way, a recruiter won’t want to strain their eyes. They might toss away your resume, never being able to learn how qualified you are.
So don’t shoot yourself in the foot by writing a long wall of text. If you’re not sure what we mean, think of a wall of text as a long paragraph that goes on and on. When you look at it as a whole, it’s like a brick wall: solid and impenetrable.
For example, look at this wall of text and try to pinpoint what’s wrong with it
Although it describes the job applicant’s skills and qualifications, it’s not easy on the eyes. The spacing between the lines isn’t far apart enough. Plus, all of the lines are the same length, which makes it look repetitive. Basically, it doesn’t engage the viewer’s eyes at all.
Using the Shift and Tab keys on the keyboard, let’s break up this paragraph a bit. (We also changed the spacing, so it’s left-aligned, which gives us more breathing space on the right side.)
Now, look at this reformatted text below. The indents at the front of each paragraph make it slightly easier to read:
However, it’s still not as good as it could be. One good step you can take is to use different colors for eye-catching headings in your resume. For instance, let’s reformat the text above into two separate sections: personal profile and key strengths.
This way, you’re infusing some brightness into your resume. The recruiter’s eyeballs have an easier time traveling down the page because you’ve added visual indicators that say, “Hey! Important stuff over here!”
Remember, you want to avoid the first example at all costs. This third example (the one right above) shows you one way you can break up walls of text.
Tips to live by
Of course, it’s a pretty hard habit to break. If you’re not sure how to avoid a wall of text, follow these rules:
- Use short paragraphs. Try to write about three to four lines at max.
- Headers and colors help. They reduce eye strain and help the recruiter focus on what matters.
- Narrow your column size. If it’s too wide, it’s going to look like a brick wall.
According to Liberty University, a giant wall of copy is daunting and will deter readers. That’s why you should always avoid them when writing resumes! After all, you want the recruiter to learn more about you — and the best way to ensure that is with a clean, easy-to-read design.
4. Whatever you do, don’t pull a Pinocchio
You want everything on your resume to be 100% accurate. Remember that job recruiters often pull incredibly in-depth background reviews on prospective employees. Imagine a detective whipping out an enormous magnifying glass.
If they catch you in a lie, that will blow your credibility in the water. It might be something like overblowing a former job title, like saying you were a manager when you were really a cashier. Or maybe you try to say you worked at a particular position for longer than you actually did.
If a recruiter is especially interested in you, they may call up former employers to check some facts. If they find out you’ve been spinning yarn, so to speak, they’ll likely throw that resume you worked so hard on straight into the trash.
After all, honesty is the best policy! Speaking of honesty, here’s another mistake you might be making. Avoid this ASAP.
5. Don’t apply to fake jobs
We get it. False job postings can be easy to fall for. Scammers put a lot of work into making them look as authentic as possible. But if you send in your resume to a fraudulent job posting, you’re handing over your full name, email address and phone number on a silver platter.
Tap or click here to recognize scam job postings. (We even put together a few stories of fake jobs people fell for!)
What if you’re accepting resumes for a job? Do it through LinkedIn
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Find the perfect fit for your business with LinkedIn Jobs. And, for a limited time, post a job for free — just visit LinkedIn.com/kim to get started today!