8 Subtle Mistakes On Resumes That You Should Avoid

Today’s job seekers need to think about one more type of audience when preparing their resume. In the past, one simply had to send their resume and a person would scan it, but today’s employers are also relying on Applicant Tracking Systems. Related: 4 Quick Ways To Improve Your Executive Resume When you have both technology and the human reviewer looking at your resume, there are some things that need to be done differently on the resume. Here are common subtle mistakes people make that should be avoided:


1. Missing space between the slash (/).

While you may think your resume is covering the bases by including key terms between slashes, it may actually be missing the mark when you don’t have a space between it. For ex. “Financial Analyst/Business Analyst” looks fine to the human eye, but to the Applicant Tracking System, it does not recognize the “/” as a break between words if the search criteria the employer puts in is only for the terms “Financial Analyst” and “Business Analyst.” You’re better off adding a space before and after the “/,” like “Financial Analyst / Business Analyst.”

2. Listing more than one job title and employment periods under one employer.

Applicant Tracking Systems have a method to scanning resumes. It looks for dates to locate job titles and employers. When you indicate multiple job titles and dates under one employer, it confused the ATS. Only list one period of employment with each employer like this:
  • XYZ Company, Office Manager / Executive Assistant / Administrative Assistant (2010-Present)OR
  • XYZ Company, Office Manager (2010-Present) Started as an Administrative Assistant and earned promotions to Executive Assistant and Office Manager.

3. Including your zip code.

Applicant Tracking Systems will also look at your city, state and zip code to determine if you are in a commutable distance and if you are not, you will be de-ranked. You do not need a street address but whether you are relocating or not, the zip code must be within a commutable distance.

4. Not following a writing format that is Applicant Tracking Systems-friendly.

Applicant Tracking Systems have a certain way of reading and deciphering information. It identifies your position by looking for a pattern of information like Company name, Title, and Dates of employment – and they must be on your resume in that order. When you add other information like Company name followed by some brief information about the employer (for ex. “Leading provider in…), it messes up how the software is to read your information.

5. Using an email address that dates yourself.

Yes, your email address can reveal a lot more than you think. Typically anyone using an AOL email address is over the age of 45. Also, an email address with numbers like johnsmith1970@.... is often interpreted as the year of birth. Avoid dating yourself by simply signing up for a free Gmail email address and not including any numbers. Keep it simple like your first name, last name or brand it to your profession or industry like TaxExpert@.....

6. Not including a Profile Summary at the beginning of your resume.

The word “profile” or “summary” tells the Applicant Tracking Systems what section follows. Without it, the system can skip the entire section. So make sure your resume has these important keywords.

7. Indicating you have over 25 or 30 years of experience.

When you have a significant amount of experience working in the field or industry, avoid specifying a random number like “30 years of experience.” What you want to do is round it off like “20+ years of experience.” And when you list your experience, don’t go too far back. Employers are generally interested in the last 10-15 years of your work experience – anything beyond that is often ignored.

8. Burying experience with well-known companies.

Experience working with well-known companies in your field or industry is a major attraction to potential employers, so don’t bury it at the bottom of your resume or on the second page. If you worked for Microsoft 10 years ago, don’t let it be buried on page two. Mention it upfront, like in your Profile Summary and in your cover letter. All of these pointers may appear simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many job seekers miss the mark on job opportunities because of it. Don’t be one of them! This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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About the author

Don Goodman’s firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109 for more information.   Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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