Interview Prep Tips

Amateur Resume Mistakes

Industry experts and eye-tracking studies agree that you have only a handful of seconds to make a good first impression with your resume. On average, recruiters and hiring managers spend only  six or seven seconds scanning a resume before deciding on what to do with it. In this tight window of time, small mistakes stand out. Makes sense to get rid of any amateur resume mistakes right?

Fortunately, the worst resume mistakes are also the easiest to avoid. Before applying to another position, check your resume against this list of avoidable mistakes. Then use Voomer to start prepping for the next step in the hiring process: interviews.

Not Using Spellcheck

Nothing ends up in the trash faster than a resume riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings. Spellcheck can catch most of these issues, so be sure to use it. But remember that running a basic spellcheck is the least you can do.

For a more thorough review, we recommend using Grammarly, a free online writing assistant with apps for Windows, Chrome, iOS, and Android. Grammarly’s free plan checks grammar, spelling, punctuation, conciseness, and tone. If you’d like a little extra help, Grammarly Premium offers tone suggestions, word-choice alternatives, and even full-sentence rewrites.

As great as Grammarly is, it’s still a good idea to manually proofread your resume. If you can get a couple of other people to look at it, too, all the better.

Omitting Contact Information

Your resume must feature your basic contact information. Otherwise, how will your potential new employer let you know you made the cut?

Fortunately, this section of your resume is pretty simple. Be sure to include both your email address and your phone number, at a minimum. Although you should include the city and state where you live, you do not need to list your full address.

Your contact information should be at the top of your resume, directly below your name. You can list all of your details on a single line, separated by vertical lines or interpuncts. Alternatively, you can use a multiline format that resembles the way contact details are listed at the top of a letter or the bottom of an email. If you have a LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, or personal website, it’s a good idea to include that, too.

Be sure to carefully review your contact information as part of your proofreading process. From a practical standpoint, there’s no difference between an error and an omission. Either one makes it impossible for an employer to schedule an interview with you.

Adding a Photo

Modeling and acting gigs aside, most job applications do not require a headshot. In fact, adding a photo to your resume can actually hurt your chances of being hired. 

Because employers’ hiring practices are subject to federal anti-discrimination laws, most recruiters are careful to avoid bias. Resumes with a photo make unconscious bias more likely, which in turn opens the door for a discrimination lawsuit. To avoid any appearance of discrimination, many recruiters immediately discard any resumes that include a headshot.

Beyond this, including a headshot can make you seem out of touch and distract from the substance of your resume. A photo also takes up valuable space that you could otherwise use to highlight your qualifications.

Choosing a Fancy Design

An eye-catching design might seem like a good way to stand out, but it’s more likely to harm your chances and distract from the body of your resume. Focus on optimizing your resume for applicant tracking system (ATS) software rather than trying to make it look cool.

Photos and other graphics can make it more difficult for an employer’s ATS to scan your resume and are a classic amateur resume mistake. Fancy templates, headers, and other unusual design elements can also interfere with the software.

To ensure that your resume makes it past the ATS screening, err on the side of boring and organized. Also, be sure to submit your resume as a PDF rather than an editable file type, such as a Word document or Google Doc with a .docx extension.

Cramming In Too Much

Many resume tips focus on what you should include on your resume: keywords from the job description, lots of action verbs, quantifiable results and accomplishments, details that are relevant to the job posting, and so on. However, it’s just as important to leave some empty space. If you cram in too much information, your resume will either be too long or too crowded to scan easily.

With that in mind, be selective about what you include. In many cases, less is more, so aim for one to two pages. Include enough details to highlight your qualifications without resorting to small fonts or cramped spacing. If you need to free up some space, start by excising information that is irrelevant or redundant. 

Forgetting to Trim or Remove Older Entries

When you first enter the workforce, you may have plenty of room to include several bullet points about each job in your work history and list all of your academic achievements. As time goes on, however, you may need to rethink some entries.

As time goes on, your work experience will begin to carry more weight than your educational background — especially if your most recent degree is decades old. Keep that in mind as you update your resume. Trim older entries to make room for your most recent and relevant experiences.

Using the Same Resume for Every Job

For the best results, update your resume every time you apply for a job. Highlight skills and experiences that line up neatly with the requirements listed in the job description. Incorporate keywords from the job posting, and do so in a way that sounds natural.

Remember that the best resume examples are deceptively simple. Although they feature a minimalist design, succinct bullet points, and plenty of white space, a lot of thought goes into creating them. Customizing your resume for each application takes time, but the extra effort is worth it.

Aim for a clear and concise resume that is error-free and easy to scan. By avoiding the mistakes above, you can ensure that your resume makes the most of that six-second window. 

Once your resume is ready, check out Voomer’s interview prep services. We use AI analysis, scientifically proven methods, and company-specific questions to help you prepare for your next video interview. Get started with a free evaluation today.

By David Anderton-Yang

David Anderton-Yang is the CEO and co-founder of Voomer where AI as a force for good, helping people be more confident on video.

He is a former researcher at the MIT Media Lab, Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree.