Any claim that isn’t defined by clear, impressive evidence is redundant. Hiring managers won’t appreciate empty brags that are open to interpretation; they’ll disregard them and find a candidate who has demonstrable success. Refrain from including unsubstantiated claims like “exceeded expectations” and “successfully led a team” and instead use real figures where applicable, e.g. “consistently exceeded my monthly targets by more than 60%”, or “grew my Sales team by six people in six months and led us to becoming the most successful in the organisation”.
Generic terms that demonstrate the bare minimum in personal qualities are the definition of a waste of space. Don’t bother using phrases like “hard working”, “team player” and “punctual” because these characteristics apply to basically everyone and are the most basic skills required to carry out any role. By using such these phrases, you’re essentially suggesting there is absolutely nothing exceptional about you.
Hiring managers are incredibly busy and will not spend much time on each resume they receive. The prospect of reading a resume that is more than two pages will be considered an ordeal and probably won’t be taken seriously. Ideally, candidates will be able to summarise their successes and suitability for a role with succinct bullet points and within one page.
The use of colors/graphics
Unless you’re applying for a Graphic Design role, don’t include graphics, images, colors, personal photos or charts. They might be a tempting way to stand out, but they’re just more obstacles for a hiring manager to try and wade through to get to the important content. Beyond that, some resumes are put through scanners and an irregular layout can hinder how they are read and understood, which could cost you from securing an interview.
While not every job requires you to be the greatest writer, one of the easiest ways you can immediately put a hiring manager off interviewing you is if your resume has silly spelling and grammatical errors. Careless mistakes like this demonstrate a lack of care and attention given to the application process and while they might not seem hugely consequential, they could mean the difference between you being chosen and a competing candidate beating you to the role.
Personal objectives statement
While you might find your personal career goals absolutely fascinating, hiring managers really don’t care. Your objectives don’t indicate any tangible achievements, so a brief outline of your most impressive job titles and experience is the most you should include, if at all. Anything beyond this is just a waste of vital space on your resume that a hiring manager is almost certainly going to skip.
Candidates who switch employers every year or even every few months can instantly deter a hiring manager from offering an interview. Although it can depend on their industry, applicants who have hopped from job to job can be perceived as flaky, disloyal or having a problem with authority. In other words: a HR headache.
Immature email addresses
This one should be self-explanatory. No hiring manager is in a hurry to offer an interview to a candidate who can be reached at [email protected]. You can be the most qualified, educated and intelligent applicant for the role, but if you’re using the same email address you created when you were 10 to apply for jobs, you might be waiting a long time for an interview.
It might seem logical to include as much information about yourself in your resume to help hiring managers find out everything about you as quickly as possible and improve your odds of being interviewed, but doing this might achieve just the opposite. Things such as your marital status, children and hobbies are irrelevant, unnecessarily take up space and can deter hiring managers from interviewing you to avoid accusations of discrimination. Keep it simple with just your city and essential contact information.
Attempts at being funny or quirky
No matter what you’ve been told about being unique and memorable to hiring managers, don’t resort to trying to be cute or amusing in your resume. Humor is subjective and you can’t convey tone in written text, so your jokes will probably land flat and you’ll immediately be discounted. These managers just want to fill roles as efficiently and painlessly as possible, and any attempts at quirkiness wastes their time and makes them think you’re not serious about the vacancy.
Including a headshot
Headshots are completely unnecessary when it comes to your CV. The employer wants to know your skills and how you can effectively fill the position – not what you look like! The only exception to this rule, of course, is if you’re a model or an actor. Otherwise, don’t waste your precious space – fill it with your skills and experience.
A messy layout
A messy layout is an immediate turn-off for any employer. If your information is all over the place without any clear sense of order, you’re unlikely to be successful in your application. Keep it clean and to the point – this will make sure that your CV has a natural flow.
Featuring incorrect information on your application is a big no-no, especially if that information can be easily fact checked. Don’t say you increased sales by 30% in the first quarter if it isn’t true – double-check those vital details before you send it off to a potential employer.
Clunky page transitions
For a clean, sleek-looking CV, make sure that you keep all paragraphs of text together. Splitting big, wordy chunks over multiple pages can make your document harder to read for the employer. Reformat your layout, and ensure that each point starts and finishes on the same page.
Using basic language
Using simplistic language when describing your skills and talents only sells yourself short. Don’t meekly say that you’re “good” at marketing, say that you’re highly accomplished! Basic word choices can come across as though you don’t have decent communication skills, and can give the impression of a run-of-the-mill, average candidate.
Recruiters know all of the tricks in the book, and can see right through any schemes you try to pull with your CV. Worrying that there may not be enough content on your resume, you may be tempted to pad it out with large, bold fonts or with unnecessary spacings. Keep it short and sweet – it’ll save your time, and your prospective employers’.
Incorrect role order
For an effective, accurate CV, you want to put your current or most recent role at the top of your document, and place your older jobs towards the bottom – ideally in chronological order. It’s no good placing your current role beneath a job you did a decade ago, after all.
Inappropriate file names
Uploading your document with the file name “My_Best_CV_Ever_2.doc” is a surefire way to raise a few eyebrows. It shows that you aren’t detail oriented (even if you declare otherwise on your resume), and that you don’t truly care about putting the effort in to get the job. Keep it tidy, a simple file name of “Your_Name_CV.doc” will do.
A lack of achievements
If you have accumulated achievements throughout your working life – name them! Include accomplishments such as being the highest-achieving salesperson in the office during a specific month, or receiving direct, positive feedback from a customer – it can go a long way in making you stand out from the crowd.
Including references doesn’t only come across as presumptuous, it can also harm your current working relationship. Your future employer may contact your current workplace for a reference – potentially causing conflict. The recruiter will ask for your references at the next stage of the job process, so there’s no need to include them on your CV.
Lying on your resume
We’ve all embellished our CV in order to highlight our skills. Flat-out lying, however, is a fatal flaw. Not only is it unethical, you may also find yourself in a position you’re incapable of fulfilling, with skills that fall short of the job’s requirements. Furthermore, if your employer finds out that you lied on your application, they may have grounds to fire you.
Incorrect contact information
Featuring incorrect contact information on your CV isn’t just unprofessional, it’s also likely to be a direct cause of you not getting the job. How are employers supposed to call you if your application features an out-of-date phone number? Double-check these vital details before hitting that ‘Apply’ button.
Too many soft skills
When you have little job experience, it can be difficult to avoid talking about ‘soft skills’ which are transferable to any role, such as team work, communication, and time management. However, these can seem too general and are often ineffective, so try to think of a time you demonstrated a skill and give a concrete example, and think about skills that are specific to the role you’re applying for.
Using passive voice
Using a passive voice will muddy the clarity of your resume, filling it with unnecessary words and phrases. Employers want to get straight to the point of your application, so cut out any futile wordings and only include what’s truly needed to show off your employability.
Unexplained job gaps
A few weeks of unemployment isn’t going to cause much of an issue, but if your CV has gaps that span several months, you’re going to need to provide an explanation. Don’t be afraid to write about experiences such as traveling or taking self-development courses. Not only does it explain the gap, it also adds a personal flair to your resume.
Including (and excluding) social media
Including your social media on your resume is a tricky affair. If you include a link to your Twitter account, make sure it’s professional – if it’s not, it’s best to omit it from your application. Equally, if you’re applying for a role as a Social Media Manager – ensure you include links to all of your socials – that’s your area of expertise, after all.
Using inappropriate fonts
You want your resume to appear polished, and the font you use plays an instrumental part in just how professional your CV appears. Using outlandish or childish fonts will make you seem amateurish, alienating the reader before they’ve even looked at your skillset. Stick to fonts like Times New Roman or Calibri for that sleek finish.
Including salary expectations
An employer asking for your previous or current salary at another company is illegal in many states in the US, and for good reason. Negotiating pay when seeking work is already a daunting process, and revealing your previous salary information can lead to an employer offering you a lower rate than is actually budgeted for.
A failure to tailor
Applying to every single job with an identical CV is unadvised. After all, some roles require entirely different skills – skills that you need to show off. If you’re applying for a job as a designer, don’t use the same resume you’d use to apply for an admin job.
A lack of personality
While you don’t want to overfill your resume with useless facts about how many pets you have, you do want to add a glimmer of who you are as a person. Include some of your interests and hobbies (particularly if they’re related to the job role). Doing so may help you stand out from the crowd.
Skimming over your current role
Your current job role is arguably the most important feature of your resume. It’s where you’ve picked up your most recent skills, after all. A sentence describing your ongoing position won’t cut it – go into detail (within moderation) about which transferable talents also apply to your sought-after role.
Too much focus on older roles
There’s no point littering your resume with lengthy details about jobs from years ago. Include relevant job experience by all means, but ensure that any roles you had from a while ago are kept short and snappy – a couple of sentences describing your general responsibilities will suffice.
Bloated contact information
Never include your full address on your CV. The only contact information you truly need on your resume is your email address, your phone number, and – if you’re feeling snazzy – your LinkedIn profile. Any extra details only bloat out your application and waste the recruiter’s time.
Ensure that you thoroughly check your resume for repetition. Constantly repeated buzzwords and phrases show a lack of efficient communication, and can make the employer feel as though you’re simply completing a box-ticking exercise. Use phrases you truly mean, and vary your word choices to truly make your CV pop.
Including your age
Employers are turned off when you include your age on your resume. It’s an irrelevant feature – your age doesn’t determine whether you’re capable of filling the role or not. Furthermore, it can be used to sue employers, with claims that they didn’t hire you because of ageism. It’s best not to worry HR before you’ve even begun.
Writing in third person
Resumes written in third person can alienate employers, making you come across as aloof and potentially arrogant. Write your CV in first person to give it that personable touch. This will also help you to relate to the reader, describing yourself in an amicable manner.
Keywords are a vital part of building your resume. Some CVs are filtered through scanning systems that detect phrases related to the vacancy, filtering out applications that have none of the words in sight. However, over-cramming your resume with this golden jargon can make your CV unreadable – so don’t overdo it.
Ignoring the recruiter’s requests
If your employer asks you to fill in a separate form – even though that information is already on your CV – follow through with their request. If they ask you to do a quick assessment to determine your skills, don’t skimp out and hope for the best. An unwillingness to go above and beyond will lead to a futile job search.
A wall of text
It can be tempting to over-explain yourself on your resume to ensure that you include everything you want a potential employer to know about you. Instead, try writing mostly in bullet points that highlight your relevant skills and experience to make sure the hiring manager gets a good sense of who you are as soon as they see your resume.
Reason for leaving a previous employer
Expressing negative opinions about a previous employer, or disclosing your reason for leaving or wanting to leave a job on your resume is very unlikely to put you in a good light in the eyes of a potential employer, as it can be seen as unprofessional and has the possibility of burning bridges.
Making sure your application is readable and formatted in an accessible way is one of the most important parts of constructing your resume. Ensure your text is a decent size, and is typed in an easily-readable font. This will make sure the hiring manager reviewing your application is able to easily look over your resume.
Although it may make you stand out, using over-the-top design choices for your resume will only confuse your potential employer. Using bold, bright colors, and an array of interesting text placements should only be reserved when applying for a very specific designer job role. Otherwise, keep it simple.
Being too brief
A few words about each of your job roles won’t cut it. Brief descriptions will leave your resume full of vacant gaps, making your job history look empty. It also doesn’t truly tell the reader what attributes you have to offer, or what responsibilities you’ve learned to master. Be detailed, but concise.
Using a non-text format
There are many CV tools out there that can make your resume look fancy, adding sharp-looking text boxes and eye-grabbing bullet points. The issue here, however, is that these sites usually convert your resume into an uneditable pdf document – which could cause issues for your potential employer. Keep it as a text document, and avoid image-based file usage.
Overusing ‘I’ and ‘me’
Although your resume should always be written in first person, it’s wise to avoid the constant use of words such as “I” and “me”. Your writing will flow more smoothly if you avoid personal pronouns, allowing you to come across as a professional, adept individual.