The following mistakes made on resumes are the biggest ‘killers’. Based on my extensive experience in assessing, shortlisting, designing and developing resumes; combined data generated from repeated surveys – employers and recruiters surveyed – continually reinforce the following mistakes are the biggest turn offs when considering prospective candidates based on their resume. Getting the resume right is the job of the candidate and it takes only a matter of seconds before one or more of the following mistakes is spotted in seconds!

The following comprehensive list is a solid and very easy guideline for candidates to reference in order to eliminate mistakes on their resumes; they are not listed in any particular order.


 Errors:
This includes spelling mistakes, grammatical and punctuation errors, and typos. Under no circumstances should your resume contain any errors – this is a sure fire bet where you will be culled immediately. Do not rely on Word’s spellchecker and grammar check tools as this can be a hit a miss. Run your document through an online checker (plenty out there) and/or have someone else read your document. Importantly, put your document aside for one day if you can (if not, then a couple of hours at the least), and then look over it with fresh eyes – it’s amazing what you can pick up on when you take a break and then go back to review the document. Believe me I religiously follow this and always pick up on something to correct!

 Underqualified:
The majority of job ads now state mandatory or essential qualifications. If you don’t meet these qualifications, it’s not worth applying as you most likely will be culled from the outset.

 Lacking industry experience:
Over the past few years I have found job ads are placing increasingly more importance in stipulating a minimum amount of time (typically in years) with experience in one or more industries. When the job ad states this is a ‘desirable’ feature, you would stand a better chance of being considered, but they still will give priority to those candidates with the industry experience. Also, as I outlined above, if this is stated as mandatory/essential, then best to let this job go

 Irrelevant skills:
Showcase only those skills relevant to the role. Ensure you read the job ad/role description thoroughly and use this as a basis to draw out the skills they’re looking for and develop statements to substantiate these key skill areas.

 Clichéd/unsubstantiated statements:
I never ever include statements that are not substantiated; for example, excellent team player, very strong verbal and written communication skills, high attention to deal, advanced computer skills, just to name a few. The list can go on and on and on; I have seen repeatedly clichéd statements on resumes for clients across all levels, even those in senior management and executive level roles. All it takes is a sentence or two to back up your claims – prove it to them!

 Listing too many jobs over a short time:
If you have changed roles a lot or held a few short-term contract or temporary roles, you will need to be discerning and pick and choose which ones to include, dependent on the job you’re applying for; consider the job itself, the skills required, and the industry in making your choice about what jobs to include and which ones to cull. The listing of too many jobs in a short time frame makes your resume look too clunky and disorganised, and it gives the prospective employer or recruiter the impression that you don’t last long in roles and you’ll probably leave them in a very short timeframe as well. That said, ensure you list ‘contract’ at the end of the job as this will make a difference – so many roles are contracted out these days, gone are the days of a plethora of permanent roles on offer.

 Listing roles going back more than 10-15 years:
Currency is within this timeframe, pretty much not going back 10 years, so stay within this timeframe. Going back too far also gives an indication of your age – and age bias is rife, so steer clear and protect yourself! If you’re targeting a role where you had experience in exact or similar roles going back more than 15 years then your resume should be created in a ‘functional’ style, drawing out key skill areas and demonstrating them on the first page. I would suggest not to include the actual chronological timeline but to instead in brackets insert the number of years you spent in the role; this way, they don’t home in on the dates and get put off by that.

 Not explaining gaps:
Forget about three- up to six-month gaps, this is relatively short. Explain in a short statement at the end of a short ‘Career Snapshot’ section the reason for any gap/gaps. Here’s one example I developed recently for a client:
Note: Since April 2015, have undertaken fulltime parenting and home management responsibilities; employment prior to 2008 included Flight Attendant with XYX Airways.

 Too creative in design:
Format you resume in a clean and professional manner; black text on white background has the best impact. Preferably use san-serif fonts; do not include images; and do not use bright colours. If you do use colours, I would recommend deeper/stronger colours and only for sidebars and section title bars.

 Lengthy resumes:
Remember it’s all about QUALITY over QUANTITY! The resumes I develop for clients average at three pages; I max out at four pages. Steer clear of long-winded resumes that surpass the four-page mark. The first two pages should grab the reader’s attention, these are the pages that count first and foremost.

 Use of different font styles:
Different font styles make the document look ‘scrappy’, unprofessional and disorganised. You can use two different font styles: one for the headings/sections; and the other consistently throughout in developing content in each section of the resume.

 Photo inclusion:
Industry consensus for years now is still the same: do not include a photo. Unless of course a photo is asked for; this is not unusual when applying for Flight Attendant/Cabin Crew roles in certain airlines. If they do ask for a photo then ensure it is professionally done – business like photo not a glam shot. I stress again, do not include a photo if they do not ask for one. Asking for a photo is actually quite rare.

 Inappropriate email address:

Your resume is a professional marketing document. I’ve seen some very ‘colourful’ email addresses (and chuckle when I come across them) but I do advise my clients directly that they should create a more professional email address. Employers take note of the small details and this is one of those important ones. Examples of suitable email addresses follow:;;

I’m here to help market you!


Annie Cerone