- John Moore/Getty Images
· Acing your résumé is the first step to moving forward in the hiring process.
· Many recruiters will spend mere seconds on your résumé to decide initial fit.
· Easy mistakes like terrible formatting and incorrect grammar can instantly land you in the ‘no’ pile.
Recruiters are judgmental sharp shooters who only need about 25 seconds to decide if they like a job candidate or not.
At least that’s how Ambra Benjamin, a recruiting manager at Facebook, describes the nature of her job in a LinkedIn post.
She explains that, while she will give outstanding candidates a more thorough read later, candidates who don’t pass her initial test won’t get a second look.
And Benjamin isn’t alone in this tactic – “Recruiters move quickly,” she writes.
As Art Markman, a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, writes for Fast Company, psychological research has found that, when hiring managers first look over your résumé, they’re often in rejection mode – they’re just looking for a reason to move on to the next candidate.
What they see on first glance could mean the difference between winding up in the ‘maybe’ or the ‘no’ pile.
Apart from the overall lack of relevant job experience, here are some things on your résumé that could earn you an automatic rejection:
Forgetting to include keywords
While we’re not suggesting you cram your résumé full of jargony buzzwords, not including keywords pertinent to the job and industry you’re applying for is not just a missed opportunity – it could indicate that you don’t have the specific experience for the job your recruiter is looking for.
“There have been times when I command + F the crap out of résumés,” Benjamin writes.
“This isn’t fool proof, but if I’m looking for an iOS Engineer, for example, and the words ‘iOS’ or ‘Objective-C’ don’t even make a cameo appearance in someone’s résumé, I have to furrow my brow, read a little deeper, and figure out what the heck is going on,” she explains.
Too much text
When you use a 0.5-inch margin and eight-point font in an effort to get everything to fit on one page, this is an “epic fail,” says J.T. O’Donnell, a career and workplace expert, founder of career-advice site Careerealism.com, and author of “Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career.”
She recommends lots of white space and no more than a 0.8 margin.
“Let’s be honest: You’re looking this over quickly, you’re glancing through it. Your eyes glaze over when you get to a big, long paragraph,” she says.
- jim simonson/flickr
Your résumé shouldn’t include the words “I,” “me,” “she,” or “my,” says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink.
“Don’t write your résumé in the third or first person. It’s understood that everything on your résumé is about you and your experiences.”
Too many bullets
In the same vein, you can also overload your résumé with too many bullet points, which Augustine calls “death by bullets.”
“If absolutely everything is bulleted, it has the same effect as big dense blocks of text – your eyes just glaze over it,” she says.
Augustine explains that bullets are only to be used to draw attention to the most important information. “If you bullet everything, everything is important, which means really nothing stands out,” she says.
“If you’re in marketing and you’ve lost me in the first three bullets, I have concerns,” writes Benjamin.
Details that give away your age
Another surprising way your résumé could give away your age: double spaces after a period. While many people were taught to type that way in school, it’s now an outdated practice.
Outdated, hard-to-read fonts
- Rachel Gillett
“Don’t use Times New Roman and serif fonts, as they’re outdated and old-fashioned,” Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo, says. “Use a standard, sans-serif font like Arial.”
Also, be aware of the font size, she says. Your goal should be to make it look nice and sleek – but also easy to read.
Curly-tailed fonts are also a turn-off, according to O’Donnell. “People try to make their résumé look classier with a fancy font, but studies show they are harder to read and the recruiter absorbs less about you.”
Present tense for a past job
Never describe past work experience using the present tense. Only your current job should be written in the present tense, Alyssa Gelbard, career expert and founder of career-consulting firm Résumé Strategists, says.
The format of your résumé is just as important as its content, Augustine says.
She says the best format is the format that will make it easiest for the hiring manager to scan your résumé and still be able to pick out your key qualifications and career goals.
Once you pick a format, stick with it. If you write the day, month, and year for one date, then use that same format throughout the rest of the résumé.
Social-media URLs that are not related to the targeted position
“If you have an online footprint, and you’ve bothered to include it in your resume, I’m gonna click,” Benjamin writes. You had better make sure all your links are on point.
Links to your opinionated blogs, Pinterest page, or Instagram account have no business taking up prime résumé real estate. “Candidates who tend to think their personal social media sites are valuable are putting themselves at risk of landing in the ‘no’ pile,” Nicolai says.
“But you should list relevant URLs, such as your LinkedIn page or any others that are professional and directly related to the position you are trying to acquire,” she says.
Spelling and grammar mistakes
This one may seem obvious, but it cannot be overstated – spelling and grammar mistakes are a sure-fire way to get your résumé thrown into the junk pile, and they’re so easy to fix. All it takes is a few extra minutes of perusing, and perhaps a second set of eyes, to fix this big résumé no-no.
Writing “whorehouse” instead of “warehouse” can be a mortifying spelling mistake – and, yes, it’s happened.
A less-than-professional email address
If you still use an old email address, like BeerLover123@gmail.com or CuteChick4life@yahoo.com, it’s time to pick a new one.
It only takes a minute or two, and it’s free.