Finding a new job is challenging at its best and anxiety inducing at it’s worse, but often the barriers to your new job are simple mistakes on your resume. As a recruiting company we review hundreds of resumes a day searching for the best candidates for our clients.
We often see avoidable mistakes on candidates resumes. We are in the business of creating opportunity and have interviewed our recruiting team on what the most common mistakes on resumes are.
Before submitting your resume, it is crucial that your proof-read (this may seem like an obvious statement, but many fail to do so). As our sourcer Nick Taylor says, “One of the most frustrating mistakes is when people put, they have “great attention to detail” and then proceed to spell detail or attention incorrectly.”
Another area that trips up job seekers are the use of past and present tense. Often a resume will have multiple uses of both past and present tenses, which may seem like a small error but can demonstrate a lack of proof-reading skills. Another tip comes to us from Gayle Luchini, our senior recruiter at Parker Staffing, who advises you to consider your current employment status when deciding what tense to use in your resume. “If you are not currently employed then you may want to use past tense.” While there is spell check and grammar check built into word processing software, it is always helpful to have someone review your resume.
Gayle says one of her biggest reasons for passing on a resume is that a job seeker has not taken the time to customize their resume for the job they are applying to, including job titles that do not match the job you are applying to. Gayle says,” Align your resume to the job you are applying to. If it doesn’t show you have the basic requirements, it’s hard to decide if you are a good fit. If you don’t have all the requirements that’s ok, but you definitely want to make sure it aligns with the job description.”
She encourages applicants to, “look at the job’s required responsibility and skills section. Think about things on your resume or background that are similar and highlight those. While you don’t have to have the exact title of the job you are applying you can add a slash to the title and include a second title that aligns with the job title you are applying for. It should help describe what other things you did outside of your title role. This helps titles align and clears up any confusion on different titles from other companies. Put yourself in the hiring manager shoes; if you were the hiring manager, what would you hire for? You’d look at the title and how long they were there and the company. Then you decide if you want to read those bullet points.”
Using the example of educators who are applying to admin roles Gayle says, “I talk to teachers who have a lot of administrative background who want to apply to administrative roles, and I encourage them to put educator/administrative coordinator for example. It is important to match what they were doing using the synonyms for the title.”
While in the rush to submit as many resumes as possible, candidates often make the mistake of not following submission instructions. If a company requests you to submit a cover letter, references, or other specific instructions, then do so. You can be automatically disqualified for not following the specific instructions.
Unless you are applying for a creative role that requires a sleek graphic resume it is unnecessary to add graphics, colors or alternate layouts. This takes away valuable space on the page for your skills, that while visually appealing, does not add more value to your application. Our recruiters also caution against attaching a picture or making your resume too creatively formatted. “I once had a candidate submit a resume that was formatted like a high-end menu to an admin role. It did not have enough information and sacrificed substance for style,” says Gayle.
There is also another risk with submitting a highly stylized resume: the application system may upload your resume and change your formatting or duplicate positions or details. Recruiters process hundreds of resumes a day and cannot always tell what a system error is and what is a human error.
Often candidates are trying to keep resumes to the “1 page” limit and will skimp on the details on their past positions. This is no longer relevant in an age where 100% of all applications are now digital. As a recruiting company our staffing team will first asses your skill level based on your resume. Nick Taylor says, “it is challenging if they don’t have enough information, like they only include the title and company. If they don’t have what they did at the job, it makes it hard to figure out what they did. As recruiters we don’t always have the time to play detective.” This can cause even great candidates to miss out on opportunities.
Another suggestion comes from our recruiter Zach Brown says, “there needs to be a skills section, or something in their resume noting their familiarity with different systems or skill sets, such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Suite.” Make sure to study the required skills and expand on your experience in bullets under your resume. It is helpful to explain short-term assignments such as temp positions, relocation, or layoffs. This can be listed below the position in a bullet point or in a short explanation under the job title. Recruiters may view a resume with many jobs as flighty, so providing details to give those career moves context can help you get a call back.
Remember, a recruiting company is also assessing your honesty with your experience! Inflating the amount of time, you spent at a position or embellishing your responsibilities can come back to bite you during a reference check.
At Parker Staffing we believe in finding the best candidates and connecting them to the best opportunities. We want you to do your best and will often coach our applicants on how to improve their resume. Remember that almost everyone, recruiters included, have been in the position trying to find the right job. Working with a staffing company can help you connect to amazing companies.
The bonus of working with a recruiter is having an expert to help you navigate the job search and application process. Whether you are looking for a fresh start or are new to Seattle and in need of a job, we want to talk to you! We encourage you to look at our jobs section to find your next opportunity. Let us help you make your next job a great one!