You’ve taken your time, done your research, and customized your resume. The job is perfect!
So how do you make sure that HR doesn’t toss your resume aside? As the perfect candidate, you need to be taken seriously and can’t afford missteps. Here are a few of the worst mistakes I’ve seen. (Be afraid. Be very afraid.)
You’ve written your resume in Comic Sans. Here’s the thing – my oldest son recently had a big book report due and handed it to me to proofread. I took one look and he’s written the damn thing in Comic Sans. If there is any message that Comic Sans screams, it’s “don’t take me seriously.”
- Pro tip – Use a true type font that is scannable by ATS software. I like Calibri, Garamond, or Book Antiqua (my top three).
You’ve listed your hobbies. I’m sorry (but not really) to be the one to tell you this, but no one cares. Best case scenario, they think you’re silly. Worst case scenario, they outright laugh at you. I cringe every time I see a resume with hobbies like “reading, watching movies and traveling.” It reminds me of a dating profile trying waaaay too hard. Don’t do this if you want to be taken seriously.
- Pro tip – There are, of course, a few exceptions. If you were in the Olympics or competitively raced in any sport, athletes are like catnip in many industries.
You’ve used too many buzzwords. It’s important to understand the distinction between buzzwords and keywords. There’s a huge difference! For a software engineer’s resume, I need to make sure that it has “software development life cycle” as a critical keyword. “Gamification” on the other hand is nothing but a trendy, meaningless term created to make people think you’re important.
- Pro tip – To tell the difference between a keyword and a buzzword, look at job ads. I can guarantee that you will only rarely see “gamification,” but SDLC will be in nearly every one.
Your resume has your headshot. OMG, I hate photos on resumes. There is no way I can stress this enough – putting your picture on your resume opens the door to bias. And bias is not something we can control. Beyond the fact that a lot of ATS systems can’t process photos, allowing bias to enter as a factor in whether you are chosen as a candidate is just plain stupid.
- Pro tip – Don’t. Just don’t.
Your contact info shows your age. There are a few critical factors here to mention. First, if your email address is AOL or Yahoo, I automatically think you can remember dial-up and you are immediately irrelevant. Second, a silly or inappropriate address will quickly knock off points on folks’ respect-o-meters. And third, if you have a home phone as well as a mobile number, I will assume that you are in the twilight of your career. (You know who still has a home phone? My 75-year-old mother.)
- Pro tip – A great first impression starts at the very top of your resume. You need to use Gmail, Outlook or iCloud for your email server.
As always, I hope your job search is short, painless and successful!