According to recent surveys, over 25 million Americans are looking for a job right now. That means now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure your resume is up to par if you want to put yourself ahead of the game in your job search.
Your resume may have the basics: job history, education, skills, contact info, and so on. However, the basics aren’t enough to really grab a hiring manager’s attention these days. You need to make sure your resume not only shows off your skill and experience but looks professional and is formatted well.
Not properly formatting a resume is one of the biggest mistakes people make while looking for a job and can quickly turn off a hiring manager from inviting you to an interview. Studies show that the average time spent looking at a resume is only about six seconds! So it’s important to make an immediate good impression if you want your resume to stand out in the pile.
Here are six of the top formatting mistakes you’ve been making on the resume that is holding you back from your dream job.
Your resume is too long
Remember, recruiters and hiring managers are only taking a few seconds to look at your resume before they decide if they want to move forward with you or not. That means if your resume is longer than a page — they aren’t going to be interested in looking through the whole thing.
“Avoid a ridiculously long resume because recruiters and hiring managers take offense to it,” Bill Dew, Founder and CEO of Swepps & Associates, said. “It shows that you don’t consider or value their time, thus causing yourself to be disqualified from consideration.”
There are some exceptions, of course. However, for most positions, especially at the entry-level, one page should be plenty to showcase your experience, skill and really show off why you are a good fit for the position you are applying for.
“Even if you’ve been working for 30 years, your work experience should comprise no more than two pages” Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill, Ivy Exec’s Manager of Resume and Coaching Services, said.
Be sure to focus on the keywords and skills posted on the job listing, so you’ll stand out and grab their attention immediately.
Spelling and grammatical errors
This should be a given, but it’s also extremely important. There may be small grammatical or spelling errors in your resume that you don’t catch yourself but trust us — hiring managers will.
Jonathan Jones, Head of Investment Talent Development at Point72 Asset Management, offered a simple solution to this.
“Have someone else read over your resume to check for this sort of error,” he said. “It can be hard to spot when you’re the one who’s written the thing. A second pair of eyes helps.”
You can also use online tools such as Grammarly and EasyBib to scan for any mistakes you might have missed the first time around. Ideally, use more than one method to ensure your resume is error-free.
Remember, you have a limited time-window to make a good impression — a spelling error is an easy way to get tossed into the reject pile before you even have a chance.
Using non-professional fonts
It can be tempting to get a little creative with your resume, but one thing you should watch out for is silly fonts.
We’re not saying you have to use Times New Roman if that’s not your thing. You can defer from the norm if you want, but you should avoid using fonts that are hard to read or look unprofessional.
Career advisor Lilly-Marie Lamar said you should stick to Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri.
However, a less common font that still looks professional could be just as good, or maybe even better if you want to stand out. You could try Georgia, Helvetica or Cambria if you want to switch things up.
Just made sure it’s readable and professional-looking and avoid using color when it comes to text. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves and don’t use the formatting of your resume as a distraction.
Dense blocks of text
No one wants to sit and read through paragraphs of text to get an idea of what your skills and accomplishments are. This isn’t an essay or a cover letter. Your resume should be easy to skim through and get an idea of your professional background.
Use bullet points to list your skills, job accomplishments/duties, education, and anything else you’ve included. Keep them short and sweet, beginning with action words to grab attention.
It’s ok to use a few sentences for your summary, but again, don’t overexplain. Make it easy to read and digest for a hiring manager or recruiter.
Including a photo of yourself
Unless you are an actor, model, or some other professional who needs a headshot to get the job — there is no reason to include a photo of yourself on your resume. In fact, it will likely work against you in the long run.
Appearances can be distracting during the initial filtering process of hiring. Employers may throw your resume out when they see a photo, just because it makes it harder for them to judge you strictly based on your skills and accomplishments.
Regardless, photos are not common practice to include in the U.S. and can come across as tacky. Employers may risk being accused of making decisions based on appearance, so it’s best not to put a hiring manager in that position. Again, let your resume speak for itself. If an employer wants to know what you look like, they will find you on LinkedIn.
This goes hand in hand with what we said about fonts. Of course, you want your resume to stand out among the crowd. Especially, if you work in a creative field, you want to show off your ability to design a unique, fun resume.
However, if you overdesign your resume, it may turn off recruiters and hiring managers from looking too closely at it. Ideally, you want the person reviewing your resume to be able to find the information they are looking for quickly and easily. Too many bells and whistles, fonts, graphics, etc. will make it harder for them to do that and they may just throw your resume out.
TopResume suggests saving all the fancy additions for your personal website, and focus on making your resume readable, professional and simple.