Don’t Make These Resume 'Miztakes'

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek March 7, 2022
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bad resume

​Comb through your resume and cover letter for spelling mistakes and other errors before hitting the "send" button if you want employers to remember you for the right reasons, advises Lily Valentin, head of North America operations for jobs search engine Adzuna.

Adzuna analyzed 92,989 U.S. resumes in its database and found that 6 in 10 contain at least one spelling error. Almost two-thirds (63.6 percent) had at least one mistake of any kind, 13.5 percent contained five or more errors, and 1.5 percent had 20 or more slip-ups.

Gulp!

"Your resume is still the first impression that your potential new employer has of you," Valentin pointed out. "Spelling mistakes, inconsistent work histories and missing information are all red flags for potential employers."

Resumes that contain 20 or more spelling mistakes can be particularly concerning to employers. Such sloppiness gives employers the impression that the applicant is not taking the process seriously and isn't fully committed to learning about the job opening, Valentin said.

"The high error count reflects mistakes being made among job seekers of all experience levels," she told SHRM Online. "At any level, resume errors can leave an impression of carelessness and lack of attention to detail. While a generous hiring manager may overlook the odd spelling mistake within an application for an entry-level role, for more-senior roles, an obvious spelling mistake or rogue grammar could rule an applicant out of the hiring process entirely."  

Top Resume Errors

Some of the most commonly misspelled words that Adzuna found are:

  • Training. This often was incorrectly written as "trainings."
  • Modeling. This often was incorrectly written with two d's.
  • Judgment. There shouldn't be an "e" after the "g."
  • Skill set. This often was incorrectly written as one word.
  • Submission. This often was incorrectly written as "submittal."
Other commonly misspelled words include "invision," "venders" and "enviroment," along with mistakes like not capitalizing languages, such as describing a person's fluency in "spanish" instead of "Spanish." 

Some of the resumes used British spellings for words: For example, "programme" was written incorrectly in place of "program," "organisation" instead of "organization," "honours" instead of "honors," "behaviour" instead of "behavior" and "enquiries" instead of "inquiries."

Other concerning trends that Adzuna found in the resumes it analyzed included:

  • Lack of a personal summary. Nearly half of the resumes (48 percent) lacked a personal statement.
    "Take the time to outline your professional achievements and career ambitions throughout your resume," Valentin said in a news release about the findings. In addition, the personal statement is a good place to note your employment preferences, such as remote or hybrid schedules.

  • Gaps in employment history. Thirty percent of the resumes Adzuna analyzed had unexplained gaps of two or more months.

    Applicants with work gaps had a 45 percent lower chance of landing job interviews than those without, according to research SHRM Online reported on in 2019.

    "Job seekers should provide context for the reason behind gaps in order to help potential employers better understand their situation, which can be a good talking point for an interview or note to include in a cover letter," Valentin said.

  • An inappropriate file name, such as "draft," "V2," "document" or "untitled." Ideally, the resume's file name should include the applicant's full name and the word "resume," such as John Smith Resume. It helps the recruiter or hiring manager quickly and easily locate the document.

  • A missing or invalid postal address.

  • Too much or too little information.

    "A common misconception job seekers often have is that the format of their resume should stay static when, in fact, the format and length should vary depending on years of experience," Valentin said.

    "Resumes need to give enough information to give a complete picture of a candidate's work history but should also be clear and concise." A college graduate, she noted, should prominently place academic achievements on his or her resume, "but GPAs are far less relevant for a job seeker with multiple years of experience."

  • An invalid or missing phone number.

  • Excessive use of uppercase lettering.

  • An invalid or missing e-mail address.

    "Applicants are getting used to being contacted by recruiters in many different ways, not just e-mail, but some [recruiters and hiring managers] feel that a text message in response to an application is taking it too far," Valentin said.

    "Job seekers should always include an e-mail address, and hiring managers should go to a candidate's LinkedIn or application source to contact [him or her] before resorting to a text message."

    Job seekers should be aware that outside of the U.S. and Europe, business communication via SMS and WhatsApp is commonplace—particularly in Asia—and some global companies may default to contacting candidates in this way, according to Valentin.

    "In time, this trend could become more widespread across America, too."

Cover Letters: Yes or No?

"The jury is out on whether or not the cover letter is relevant anymore when applying for a job," Valentin acknowledged. "Some argue that applicant tracking systems negate the need for a formal cover letter, but I would argue that at the other end of that process is a person—just like you—looking to find that perfect candidate for a particular role."

The letter gives job seekers an opportunity to tell their story, go into detail about their experience, and explain any gaps or inconsistencies in their resume.

"A job candidate's ability to humanize this connection point can help them stand out from the crowd," she added. "Why skip this step when it can act as a simple way to add character to an application and potentially set them apart from someone whose skills and experience on paper might look similar to theirs?"

Valentin considers cover letters a powerful tool and an important document to include with a job application, noting that recruiters and HR professionals continue to request a PDF or a Word document for their records.

"I do, though, recommend that job seekers update their LinkedIn profiles to show an accurate depiction of their work experience, including when they changed jobs," she said. "There have been many instances where recruiters reach out to potential job seekers for an open role they are looking to fill after reviewing the person's background and profile online." 

Other SHRM resources:
How to Revamp Your Resume for Today's Job Market, SHRM Online, January 2022
Polishing Your Resume to Make the Best Impression,SHRM Online, January 2022
How to Write a Powerful and Memorable HR Resume, SHRM Online, January 2022
How Content and Structure Improve Resume Readability, SHRM Online, June 2021 (includes template)
In Resumes, Font Size Matters, SHRM Online, July 2020
Proofreading the Final Draft of Your Resume, SHRM Online, June 2020




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