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A resume is an important component of any job application process. It allows you to introduce yourself to employers, present your qualifications… and hopefully, secure an interview. There’s a lot at stake – and your resume can either make or mar your chances of employment. 

Now, here’s the scary part: Today’s recruiters skim resumes for an average of 7.4 seconds. This means that if a recruiter doesn’t tag your resume as ‘interesting’ within the first 7 seconds, chances are you’ll never hear back from them. 

You might be thinking, “How in the world are they able to make such decisions in such a short time?”. Well, recruiters already have a good grasp of what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. Moreover, their eyes are also quick to spot red flags that make them lose interest in a candidate. 

That’s why the first rule of thumb when preparing your resume is NEVER to give off a negative signal. In this article, we explore some of the most common and damning mistakes you should avoid. 

#1 Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors

Whether at Stafford Technology or any other recruiting agency, nothing turns off a recruiter more than seeing spelling and grammatical errors. Simple spelling mistakes like “acceptible” instead of “acceptable” or acknowlege” instead of “acknowledge”. 

One or two mistakes might be overlooked, but if your resume is filled with such errors, chances are your resume will be tossed to a corner. Think about it; why would an employer want to hire a candidate with poor writing skills?

Thankfully, there are several only writing tools like Grammarly that can help you avoid those off-putting mistakes. 

#2 Meaningless resume objective

The objective section in your resume is used to state your career goals. Many candidates make their objectives so generic to the point that it’s meaningless. Another common mistake is over-streamlining your objective to the point it misses the mark. Recruiters read it and instantly feel you’re not a fit. 

That’s why it’s important to learn about the job role you’re applying for. Find out what you’ll be doing. That way, you will be able to write your objective in a way that perfectly aligns with the role. 

#3 Congested Layout

As noted earlier, the average recruiter will skim through your resume in less than eight seconds. With a congested layout, your resume becomes overwhelming to read. What’s more, the recruiter will find it difficult to pick out important information. 

To ensure that your resume is easily readable, make use of sufficient white spaces, keep your sentences short and simple to understand, use a font size of 11 or 12, make use of the proper section headings. Every recruiter loves reading a well-arranged resume. 

#4 Lack of job-related keywords

In today’s hiring world, many recruiters like Stafford Technology make use of Application Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter out resumes. This system works by looking for predefined keywords that are relevant to the role in question. If your resume contains lots of those keywords, it gets marked as relevant. 

However, this is not a suggestion to stockpile your resume with keywords. Eventually, your resume will be passed on to a recruiter, and if it’s not readable, it won’t go anywhere. 

Here’s the bottom line. Ensure your resume contains the relevant keywords without compromising readability. 

#5 Long Resume

As noted earlier, the average recruiter will spend about 7 seconds reviewing your resume. So, what’s the point of filling up your resume with information the recruiter will never read? It’s even risky because a long resume may detract readers from the key highlights of your accomplishments. 

That’s why you need to keep your resume short and sweet. As a rule of thumb, your resume should be only a page if you’re fresh out of school or a newbie in the workforce. For more experienced professionals your resume can be two pages long. 

#6 Including a photograph

There’s no point in including a photo, headshot, or avatar to your resume. Trust me, the recruiter is not interested in seeing your face. Doing so just takes up space that could be used to provide more valuable information. 

Of course, the only exception to this rule is if you’re applying for a role where your facial looks matter – like in acting or modeling. 

#7 Fancy Design and Font

Maybe you want to stand out and you have a ‘brilliant idea: make use of a fancy design and cursive font that will ‘wow’ the recruiter. Kill that thought! Recruiters are not interested in your design skills. The only thing they care about is if you can do the job or not! 

Therefore, stick with a simple layout. Again, the only exception might be when you’re applying for a design-related role. 

#8 Using a functional resume

Functional resumes focus on skills and experience rather than on your chronological work history. For recruiters, using this format might indicate you have gaps in your employment history you’re trying to conceal. 

Always stick with a chronological resume unless otherwise requested by the employer. You might also use a functional resume if you’re seeking to change your career.

#9 Excluding contact information

How do you expect the recruiter to contact you without your contact information? It’s important to include your name, professional email, cell phone number, and LinkedIn profile to make it very easy for recruiters to contact you. 

#10 Using the name “Resume” to save your resume. 

Think about this from the recruiter’s perspective. If they receive hundreds of resumes from different applicants all saved as “Resume”, how in the world would they tell them apart?

That’s why you should use your name to save your resume. An example would be “John_Locke_resume”.