There are some resume mistakes which can cost a candidate a job or an interview that seem fairly obvious. These include:

  • Spelling or grammatical mistakes
  • Having an unprofessional email
  • Missing contact information
  • Lying about your experience, educational background, or skill set

However, there are additional mistakes which could also ruin your chances at securing an interview which might not seem as apparent. These include:

  • Keyword stuffing. While adding keywords to match a job posting is necessary to make it through applicant tracking software scans, it is possible to go overboard. Be careful not to use keywords that don’t really apply to your experience and skill set.
    • Also, some candidates have tried to place keywords in white text in 2 point font at the bottom of their resume. This is an especially unwise decision, because applicant tracking software converts resumes into plain text, so the “accounting accounting accounting accounting accounting” that a candidate thinks they may have cleverly hidden in the footer, becomes clearly visible to the hiring partner once ATS parses the resume.
  • Including information that isn’t suitable for your hiring market. In some parts of the world, it’s common to include a photo, marital status, and birth date on a resume; in other parts of the world the preferred standard is to leave that information off.
  • Being too generalized. Trying to keep your job description vague so that it can appear to apply to many different prospective positions can work against a candidate. A hiring partner needs to have a good sense of your background to see if you are a good fit. If an employer has to guess at what your resume means, there’s a good chance he or she will just reject your resume and move on to the next one in the pile.
  • Not clearly quantifying achievements. Employers want to see that a candidate can complete projects and take initiative. Most hiring partners aren’t looking for employees who just complete the bare minimum tasks.
  • Going overboard on the synonyms. While it is a good plan to vary up your descriptions so that every bullet does not start with “managed” … you should also not aim to outdo a thesaurus on your resume.
  • Uploading your resume as a PDF. While most ATS can parse PDFs these days, some employers may be working from older versions of the software. If you are uploading your resume, it’s often best to do so as a .docx or .doc, so that you can ensure all portions of your resume are received by employers.
    • However, if you are sending your resume directly to an employer, e.g. [email protected], PDF would be the preferred format to use to ensure that when the employer downloads or prints the resume, there are no reformatting issues.