A job search can be an arduous task with many steps. Typically, the first step is to create a resume that convinces the recruiter to consider you for an open position.
Think of your resume as a spokesperson or a promotional tool—it is important to create a resume that makes a great first impression to a potential employer. If a recruiter or hiring manager requests to meet you, it means that your resume has done its job of marketing you as a suitable candidate.
However, due to pressing deadlines and the volume of resumes received, recruiters do not often have sufficient time to review each resume carefully. Usually, a recruiter skims through a resume looking for relevant information. According to the 2018 Eye-Tracking Study conducted by Ladders, many recruiters skim through resumes within an average of 7.4 seconds.
Wow! It takes an average of just 7.4 seconds for a recruiter to determine whether your resume is worth keeping or tossing. While skimming through (and tossing) resumes isn’t the best practice, it is, however, the reality.
Meanwhile, the candidate is probably hoping to hear back from the company. Well, I can relate! I’ve been there several times. I’m sure I have created over a thousand versions of my resume. It has significantly transformed over the years—through the help of other professionals and resources available to me.
The good thing is that, as an HR professional, I’m privileged to be on the other side of the table to understand how things work. Having recruitment as one of my core functions (both from the technological and practical aspects), I have reviewed several resumes, as well as screened and matched suitable candidates with positions.
Based on my experience, there are several things on your resume that could be hindering your job search. I’ve decided to share a few of them below:
- Personal Details
Personal details do not belong on your resume because they expose you to biases, which end up being discriminatory. Examples include your gender, date of birth, nationality, state of origin, marital status, or religion. How would you feel if you found out that a recruiter eliminated you from a candidate pool because of your age or some other factor that you have no control over? I don’t expect anyone to share information that can negatively affect them. So when writing your resume, remove any personal detail that is not directly related to your ability to perform the job.
- Your Home Address
Some applicants still use complete home addresses to indicate their location. Given that resumes travel across our cyberspace through emails and job portals, it is a risk to use your complete address. You could be exposing yourself to security issues such as phishing and identity theft. When adding your location to your resume, use only your city and state (or city and country, if you’re applying for an international position).
- Your Photograph
In some parts of the world, people will argue that professional photos (headshots) are acceptable on resumes. However, HR best practice does not encourage candidates to use photographs on resumes—except they are models, actors, TV personalities, or in professions where employers are permitted to request them. It is generally not advisable to add your image to your resume because, at first glance, it can lead to unconscious biases. Through your photo, a recruiter can tell your gender, race, maybe religion, and probably guess your age. These biases may prevent you from getting an opportunity you deserve. If your photo will not add any value to your resume, or show your qualification for the job, leave it out. Besides, images are a waste of resume space—a recruiter can always view your LinkedIn profile if they need to see you.
- Inappropriate Email Addresses
Ensure that the email address on your resume speaks well of you as a professional. It is quite easy to create a new email account, and so there is no excuse to use inappropriate email addresses on resumes. Use an email address that shows your name—no nicknames or slangs. Also, do not use the email address from your current job on your resume. For example, it is professional for “Jane Doe” to use firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com on a resume. While it is unprofessional for “Joe Bloggs” to use firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com on a resume. Check out this blog post that describes how to choose a professional email.
- Job Duties
Some times, I see applicants list job duties under each work experience. In order words, people list all the responsibilities outlined in their job description. We do know that not everyone accomplishes every duty listed in a job description. Therefore, it is more important to highlight your accomplishments under each work experience. What are those things you did to bring value to your team/organization? Those accomplishments are the things that will show a hiring manager that you will be an asset to their organization.
- Graphic Designs
Candidates try to show creativity on their resumes by using unique fonts, inserting tables, or playing with colors. However, it is always safer to maintain a conventional-style resume. Some applicant tracking systems may not be able to extract relevant information from resumes with graphic designs. Also, if a recruiter has to struggle to find information on your resume, you face the risk of having your resume discarded.
- Outdated Information
You do not need to include information from your distant past on your resume. For example, if you have a university degree, it indicates that you have completed your secondary education (high school). Therefore, you don’t need to include your high school on your resume. Also, if you are a professional with many years of experience, you do not need to list your entire career history on your resume. Most career coaches and recruiters recommend that you focus on relevant positions within the past 10 to 15 years.
Minimize the use of acronyms or technical words (industry lingo) on your resume. Some jargons are unique to specific companies, industries, or countries, so it is not always safe to assume that the recruiter is familiar with them. If a recruiter is unfamiliar with those jargons, you risk being eliminated from the candidate pool, even when you may be qualified. However, if the open position is related to your previous work experience, then it may be safe to use industry-specific jargon. When in doubt, use simple words and spell out the abbreviations.
At the start of my career, I used to be guilty of adding references to my resume. However, I quickly learned that providing a list of references or adding fillers like “references available upon request” is a waste of resume space. Besides, you’ll be unnecessarily exposing their details at an early stage. Provide a separate list of references when the employer requests for it.
- Grammatical or Spelling Errors
A minor grammatical or spelling error can ruin your chances of getting invited for an interview. Hiring managers tend to assess applicant’s spelling abilities or attention to detail through their resumes. Ensure that your resume is error-free before applying to any position. Check for errors by reading the content of your resume aloud. You can also ask someone to proofread it for you.
Did you find the blog post informative? I’ve created an infographic just for you. Click on the link below to view and download it.
Given the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on some workers, I want to offer FREE resume reviews to twenty (entry-level to mid-career level) professionals. These reviews are for laid off or furloughed workers. You can send your resumes to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will provide feedback on the content and appearance of your resume. I’ll also offer suggestions for improving your resume.
I do understand how difficult it is to prepare a good resume during a period of distress, and so I hope that I can help you in my little way.