If you ever wonder why your resume is still so important in the job application and recruitment process, think about all the people that your resume will be seen by as you are considered for a position.
In our company, one or more Consultant Advisors will evaluate your resume, but remember that our role is that of a screener and recruiter for our clients. Should you pass our initial review, we then share your resume (only with your permission) with one or more hiring managers on the client side who will make their own evaluations.
And don’t forget the role of technology. Companies are automating more aspects of applicant tracking, often using Artificial Intelligence to screen resumes for a ‘best fit’ to job requirements.
With all these layers of human and technological review, a poorly written or ill-formatted resume could easily knock you out of consideration for your next contract role—or possibly your dream job.
The good news is that we have a lot of experienced recruiters committed to evaluating your submissions for our company. But we’re reading your resume quickly, essentially scanning it, to look for skills and experiences that may be a match to current or future client needs.
To improve your odds of catching our eyes, avoid these common resume mistakes that could keep you from getting the consideration you deserve.
Typos and Grammatical Errors in Your Resume
This is obvious advice but if we had a nickel for every misspelled word that we see on inbound resumes, we could retire early. Typos and poor grammar don’t make you a bad person—just a bad candidate—because a resume rife with errors reflects poorly on your attention to detail.
The Fix: Using spellcheck is a must, but not a cure-all. Some checkers won’t correct for grammar and may inadvertently mangle technical names or industry terms (example: turning EHR into HER). That said, Grammarly is a popular spelling and grammar checker used by many resume writers.
When proofreading your resume, start from the bottom and read the content from right to left. This technique helps your brain see errors that might not be apparent on a traditional read-through. Another proofreading trick is to print your resume and read it aloud.
And always, always, always put your resume in front a second set of eyes for a fresh read. Ask a friend, recruiter or professional editor to help you weed out errors and improve the clarity of your writing.
If you were a consultant to a “large Midwest health system,” we will need to know the name of that health system. If your work history shows a large gap in employment, we will need to know why you were out of the job market. In sum, a complete synopsis of your relevant work history is needed for our recruiters to evaluate your background—and any glaring omissions may knock you out of the running.
The Fix: Follow a tried-and-true chronological format for the ‘Work History’ section of your resume. List the name of the client/employer, the city/state where the work was performed, the position held, the date range during which the work was performed, and a bulleted summary of your duties and accomplishments in the role. If you have a gap in employment that you feel requires explanation, send a brief cover note with your resume submission to clarify the gap.
While our previous tip was a plea for transparency and detail regarding your work history, you can also give us too much information. Including irrelevant details in a resume can detract from your relevant qualifications and make your resume too long and bloated for quick scanning by a recruiter.
The Fix: Tailor every resume submission to the job. Chop irrelevant details like your college grade point average, your hobbies, and the non-essential “References available upon request” declaration.
Remove dated work experiences that don’t sell your qualifications for a role. If you have a lengthy work history with multiple employers, consider limiting that history to the past 10 or 15 years, while including a summary section at the top of your resume to highlight your most relevant skills and experiences.
There is no optimal length for a resume, but longer isn’t usually better, and your most relevant qualifications should be evident on the first page.
Wacky Fonts and Formatting
Resumes are boring—we get it. But when it comes to the aesthetics of your resume, we like boring. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t like non-traditional formatting, such as embedded tables, sidebars, graphics, custom fonts and anything else that make editing difficult.
While some employment coaches recommend that you send resumes as PDFs, we strongly prefer Microsoft Word or Google Docs for ease of editing.
How come we edit your resume? One, because many of our clients ask for very specific details and formats as prerequisites for submissions. So, we have to adjust your resumes to meet their hiring requirements. Two, we may update our version of your resume, with your approval, to clarify key details and improve your marketability.
The Fix: Help us help you by creating and submitting your resume in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Use standard fonts and simple tabs, bullets and paragraph breaks to achieve the formatting you desire. Ignore advice that suggests that more graphical or creatively-formatted resumes help you stand out.