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Personal Brand | 5 minute read

8 Resume mistakes that could be killing your chance for an interview

April 27, 2016

Most job seekers have a one-size-fits-all resume they use repeatedly to apply for opportunities. The problem with this is that in the employment world, one size rarely fits all. Fortunately, there are simple fixes you can make to help give your resume the best chance to be considered. Follow these eight resume tips to make yours as effective as possible, and get that job you’re seeking.

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Be Sure to Explain the Jargon

While it’s true that recruiters have specialized knowledge, be careful not to assume that we know every acronym in the book. If you must use an acronym, explain the acronym first, then use it freely afterward. The goal of your resume is to demonstrate your skills and competencies, so be sure it’s easy for anyone to understand. Take the guesswork out by avoiding overuse of acronyms and jargon. By using non-proprietary language, your resume stands a better chance of being universally understood.

Don’t be TOO bold

Before you decide to bold important words or feel the need to emphasize thoughts WITH ALL CAPS in an effort to grab the recruiter’s attention, ask yourself this: Is the goal of my resume to have the recruiter see only a few words and make a judgment on those alone? One thing to keep in mind is that recruiters aren’t simply looking for keywords to pop — they look for context as well.

Another important note is that sometimes recruiters copy your information into a centralized database. If you’ve bolded some words, or decided CAPS LOCK RULES, recruiters need to manually re-enter much of the information. The last thing you want to do is make unnecessary work for the person who’s considering you for a job.

Demonstrate, demonstrate, demonstrate

If I wrote on a resume I possess world-class customer service, advanced Excel skills and project management skills, would you believe me on that alone? I wouldn’t expect you to. One common mistake recruiters see daily are resumes which only mention skills candidates have, without effectively demonstrating experience. If you possess a certain skill, write down how you’ve used it. Instead of writing “world-class customer service,” explain a specific time that you went above and beyond for a customer. Instead of saying you possess “advanced Excel skills,” provide specific examples that validate your claim.

Save your references for later

It’s always interesting for me to see what people put at the bottom of their resumes. One thing I often find that should never be there is “references available upon request.” Of course they are. When are they not? I don’t think a recruiter has ever passed on a resume simply because the applicant didn’t include a statement about references. Plus, resume real estate is very valuable, and adding another demonstrated competency is a far more beneficial use of page space at the bottom of your resume.

your cover letter Is your elevator pitch

If it’s five pages, it’s too long. Think of this when writing your cover letter – don’t feel the need to restate the information we will find on your resume. Lengthy cover letters are usually filled with duplicate information that is simply unnecessary. There are very few scenarios in which your cover letter length should go beyond a single page, and none that justify it going over two. All recruiters want to see in a cover letter is what your motivation is, an explanation for any gaps in employment in your resume and a brief pitch on why you’d be a good fit for the job.

Don’t just copy and paste from the job posting

Tailoring your resume is amazing and I firmly believe that people should be doing it for every position they apply for. Looking at a job posting and writing your resume in such a way that it emphasizes the criteria needed to be a successful candidate is a really good practice.

With that said, do not copy and paste the job description verbatim into your resume. Typically, when a recruiter is viewing your resume, he or she is already intimately familiar with the job description and competencies needed. Rather than simply copy from the list of requirements, tailor your experience to explain how you are a great fit for the role and emphasize your personal brand.

Limit the buzzwords

A common misconception is that buzzwords lead to better search results. You may write all of the computer skills anyone could ever have, and think to yourself “there’s no WAY they can’t contact me, I have everything!” Consider this: The same algorithms used to find you can also be used to reject you. Recruiters and other professionals can use algorithms to make an “exclude” list, which can reject your resume if it contains certain (or too many) buzzwords.


Please proofread your resume. Spellcheck can uncover the most glaring errors, but it can’t uncover all. There are few worse feelings than finally viewing your resume after a long while and noticing that you’ve written “shills” instead of “skills.” Be proactive and catch any resume mistakes by reading it carefully before we do.


About WilsonHCG

WilsonHCG is an award-winning, global leader in total talent solutions. Operating as a strategic partner, it helps some of the world’s most admired brands build comprehensive talent functions. With a global presence spanning more than 65 countries and six continents, WilsonHCG provides a full suite of configurable talent services including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, contingent workforce solutions, talent consulting and talent intelligence.