By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon
As many Americans find themselves back on the job hunt, candidates are polishing their interview skills and, of course, updating their resumes. But what exactly should one be looking for to strengthen their resume and help it stand out from the crowd and get past those pesky AI systems?
Here are some small mistakes that could be slowing your resume down in a big way:
1. Outdated Keywords
Words are important, but which words have the most impact in your field can change in the blink of an eye. As technology updates and social standards progress our business expectations, jargon shifts, thus the words that applicant tracking AI systems and human recruiters are looking for on your resume inevitably changes too. As you review your resume, make sure to use search engines and job postings from your industry to find the skills and experiences being asked for the most. Make a list. Then, use it to align your keywords with what recruiters want to see.
2. The Wrong Formatting
The number one focus of every resume should be readability! Unless you’re a graphic artist seeking a design-focused occupation or a similar type of creative role, your resume does not have to be visually striking. Usually, a simple, clean design and format that is easy to read and scan is the best option. It is alright to use a resume template but tweak it, so it doesn’t look like every other resume that hits the human resources desk. Edit your resume to have a standard font, plenty of white space, bullet points instead of paragraphs and concise statements. Also, consider changing written numbers to numerals to conserve space and using the percent sign (%) instead of the word. Finally, make sure your style and formatting choices are consistent throughout the page.
3. Bad Grammar and Mechanics
After correcting confusing formats or unreadable style choices, your next step is to run your resume through some proofreading software or hire a professional editor. After looking at it repeatedly, it can be easy to miss basic typos, grammar mistakes or other small errors. So, take your time when everything is finished to review your resume one more time and use a program or second set of eyes as well, especially if checking grammar and mechanics is not your strongest skill. Asking friends and family to assist can be helpful during this step.
4. Listing Old Positions
Always list your most recent and most relevant positions towards the top of your resume. If you have been using the same or similar resume for several years, it might be time to look it over from top to bottom and delete some more entry-level positions, especially those over 10 years old. Not only will this help consider space, but it will also make your resume stronger because it focuses on the most pertinent and fresh experience you’ve accumulated.
5. Forgetting to Update Contact Information
During your review process, it is easy to miss small details like contact information. So, be sure to confirm everything is up-to-date. Maybe it’s time to consider creating an email specific to job searches? Use a professional email address for communication and a good phone number where you can be easily reached.
6. Irrelevant/Outdated Skills
It’s time to take Microsoft Office proficiency off of your skills list. It’s almost an assumed skill nowadays for most office and administrative roles. Similar to updating your keywords, skills should be relevant and pulled directly from the job postings and online role descriptions that show up most often in your industry research. Furthermore, think about what you’ve accomplished in recent years: Were you in a new program at your current or most recent position? Did you take a class? Have you been leading team meetings? Incorporate these skills into your new resume.
7. Using Dated Phrases
An easy way to date yourself as an older or less up-to-date job seeker is using outdated phrases. For example, “references available upon request” or any mention of references is unnecessary as most online applications ask for them separately, or your recruiter will be sure to mention them if needed.
8. Saving the File Incorrectly
This last one may come as a surprise. Simply saving your resume under the filename “resume” may make organization easier for you; however, it makes your resume one amongst many unidentifiable files on the computer of a hiring manager. Including your first and last name in the resume file name along with the word “resume” helps it point to you as an individual before it’s even opened. Furthermore, unless otherwise requested, make sure to save your file as a PDF so that all of the careful formatting and style choices you worked on will be preserved.