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Five Mistakes That Can Sink Your Resume

Civilianize Your Resume

A resume is your calling card to hiring managers and employers. And with 13.1 million Americans unemployed as of December 2011 , you need to make your resume stand out from competing job seekers as much as possible.

But not in a negative way. Make sure you avoid making unforced errors on your resume that can kill your chances of landing an interview. This article, presented by American InterContinental University, lists five all-too-common resume mistakes.

Red Pen Errors: Grammar, Typos, Misspellings

An immediate red flag for most hiring managers, the presence of grammatical errors, typos (such as having the word “herd” instead of “hired”) and misspellings—particularly if those misspellings involve company names—makes you look careless.

Check your resume over twice, read it out loud once, and then, for good measure, have a nit-picky friend you trust look it over.

Incorrect Contact Details

If hiring managers can’t get in touch with you or your voicemail on the first try, they probably won’t try again. Make sure your phone number and e-mail are up to date and correct before sending your resume out.

Also, make sure you have a sober, professional-looking e-mail address that uses your first and last name (or initials). An address like “” will most likely fail to inspire confidence in people reading your resume.

Giving Out Personal Information

There’s no reason to put your gender, age, religion or political affiliations on a resume. Employers are generally also not interested in your hobbies, family members, or pets. Also, any website or social media profile listed on your resume should be professionally focused, not personal, containing only work samples or your reactions to industry news.

The one exception for this is volunteer experience that relates in some way to the work you’re applying for. Prospective project managers, for instance, might list the time they organized a charity auction and ball to benefit the local hospital, or any other non-paid experience that makes real use of professional skill sets.

Not Making Your Experience Relevant

In an age when it’s possible to “blast” your resume out to fifty different employers with a few clicks, taking the time to tailor each application and resume towards individual positions can seem excessive. But it’s not. Employers want to know what you have to offer them, and you’ll have to highlight different accomplishments from each of your previous positions that give them what they want.

If you take the time to really find out what each employer is looking for, and then pick three or four highly relevant activities from each job that show you’ve got it, you should be better placed to get that all-important call for more information. This is an especially important consideration if you’re changing career paths or industries. You’ll have to make the effort to show how your experience can cross over to the industry you’re trying to break in to.

Over-Designed Resumes

Word processing software makes it easier than ever to produce a professional-looking resume. However, don’t be tempted to overdo the clip art or use too many different fonts when creating yours. Readability is key for hiring managers, who will probably sift through several dozen resumes for one position, if not more than that.

Make sure that you follow these basic readability rules:

  • Put your contact information in a prominent place
  • Bold or underline the beginning of each new section
  • Use bullet points to display short descriptions of each achievement or duty
  • Use color sparingly and only at the margins or edges of the resume—main body text should be black

This article is presented by American InterContinental University, a provider of career-focused degree programs. Students can even study on our Virtual Campus at AIU Online. Find out more at