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11 Resume Mistakes That Every Recruiter Notices (and tips to avoid them)

Updated: Jun 22

11 Resume Mistakes Every Recruiter Notices -- Image

Picture this: You're sitting in a packed theater, the lights dim, the music swells, and the curtains slowly rise. It's time for the show to begin! But what if, instead of a dazzling performance, you're met with the actors forgetting their lines or props out of place?

Not the experience you signed up for, right?

That’s pretty much how bad resumes read.

If you’ve ever wondered whether recruiters actually bother to read resumes enough to spot mistakes in them, the answer is absolutely yes.

We’re a job board and as a result, we get to speak to recruiters quite a bit. These are the 11 most common, obvious resume mistakes that most, if not all recruiters pick up on.

So, in this blog, we’re going to go through what those mistakes are and how to avoid them.

Let’s get started.

Resume mistakes to avoid

Grammar errors and typos

Here's a truth universally acknowledged: spelling and grammar errors in your resume are as welcoming as Voldemort at a Hogwarts reunion.

They have the power to silently but swiftly ruin your chances of landing that coveted interview, even before the recruiter gets to know about your actual skills.

Now, you might be thinking, "Hey, I'm an expert in Python, not English! So what if I misspelled 'detailing' as 'detaling'?" The issue lies not in the error itself, but what it signifies to your potential employer: a lack of attention to detail. In their eyes, if you can't get your own resume right, how can they trust you to manage their million-dollar projects?

How to avoid:

First, don't rely solely on autocorrect or spell check. They might catch you typing 'teh' instead of 'the', but they'll turn a blind eye when you write 'manger' instead of 'manager'. Yes, both are technically words, but unless you're applying for a role in a Christmas nativity scene, I bet you mean the latter.

Second, learn the art of proofreading. Take a break after writing your resume, then return to it with fresh eyes. Read it out loud, print it out, or even ask your friends to go through it. They might spot what you've glossed over.

Third, use grammar tools like Grammarly or Hemingway. These can help spot mistakes and awkward phrasing that you've become blind to.

No one expects you to pen a resume worthy of a Pulitzer. It's about presenting a polished, professional image to potential employers.

Including irrelevant details

Here's a resume misstep that's as common as getting that song from "Frozen" stuck in your head: including irrelevant information.

You might think, "I won a hot dog eating contest in college! Surely, that will impress!" But unless you're applying for a role as a professional food eater, that information will likely raise eyebrows instead of landing you an interview.

The mistake is understandable. You want to show potential employers that you're well-rounded, unique, and, let's face it, downright impressive. However, the key is to be impressive within the context of the job you're aiming for.

How to avoid:

Read the job description a hundred times. Not literally but you get the idea. This is something a lot of candidates simply don’t do. If you know the job description in and out, you’re less likely to add irrelevant details.

Mentioning your experience as a summer camp counselor when applying for an accounting position is not the way to go.

Instead, tailor your resume for each job application. This doesn’t mean creating a brand new resume each time (who has the time for that?), but rather slightly tweaking the information to make it relevant to the job at hand.

We’ve got a great guide on how to tailor a resume that you can refer to.

Finally, remember that resumes are formal documents. Personal interests can sometimes serve as a conversation starter but they should be included sparingly and only when relevant to the job or company culture.

Using an Unprofessional Email Address

Just as Comic Sans has become the running joke of the typography world, unprofessional email addresses are the punchline in the world of job hunting.

You might think: "What's in a name?", but trust me, when your resume boasts an email like ‘’, recruiters aren't laughing.

This little faux pas is a resume's equivalent of pineapple on pizza – a choice that can deeply divide opinions, and in this case, it's between you and the hiring manager.

Sure, you might be the best programmer on the block but that email handle doesn't scream "I'm a consummate professional."

How to avoid:

First off, keep it simple. Your best bet is usually some combination of your first and last names. It's the "black coffee" of email addresses - classic, to the point, and acceptable to all.

But most simple email names are usually taken. So, if your name is common and all the straightforward combinations are taken, try variations that still maintain a sense of professionalism. Think of it as the "latte" option - a little extra, but still within the acceptable range.

For example, “” or “

These aren’t the best option but they won’t offend most people, either.

Finally, always have a separate professional email for your job hunt. It'll not only make you look organized but also ensure that important job-related emails don't get lost between newsletters and personal emails.

Email addresses may be a very small part of your resume but they’re an important part. It’s something that every recruiter will see and bad ones just don’t make a good impression.

Lengthy resumes — avoid the “director’s cut”

Everyone loves a good epic. I mean, we consume so much of them. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Marvel, DC — there’s so many more!

Hours of backstories, side plots, and character development. It's what makes us invest hours, sometimes even days, into these franchises.

Resumes should NOT be like that.

Why not, you ask? After all, doesn’t a long resume show you’ve got tons of experience?

Not necessarily. In the hiring world, a lengthy resume can suggest that you don’t know how to edit, prioritize, or succinctly deliver information

How to avoid:

Prioritze your content. Not every single detail needs to go into your resume. In fact, most of it shouldn’t. So, don’t list all the part-time jobs you’ve had, the internships you’ve attended, and the volunteer experience you have. It’s not necessary.

A resume shouldn’t be more than two pages long. That’s an absolute.

If you have experience north of twenty years, two pages make sense. Or else, one page.

A one-page resume is what you should be aiming for.

Going back to movies, think of your resume as an amazing trailer for the movie. It should provide enough highlights to get the employer interested without spoiling the whole plot.

Finally, optimize the layout of your resume. Use space efficiently.

You’ll see resume template companies selling you eye-catching resume templates. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with those, but classic resume formats are the best. Simple horizontal lines separate each section of your resume — that’s all that you really need.

What’s more, ATS can’t read fancy fonts and very unconventional resume formats. If you don’t get through the ATS, you pretty much won’t land any job.

If you’re not aware of what ATS is and how to write a resume that beats ATS, check out our in-depth guide on how to get past the ATS.

Generic Objective Statements — stock photos of the resume world

We've all seen them – stock photos. They're as generic as they come, and while they may serve a purpose, they're anything but unique. Much like these run-of-the-mill images, generic objective statements can be the equivalent of a "one-size-fits-all" t-shirt on your resume. It might fit, but it certainly doesn't flatter.

An objective statement like "Seeking a challenging position to utilize my skills and abilities" might seem like a safe bet, but to a hiring manager, it’s as exciting as watching paint dry.

They're looking for a vivid splash of color in a sea of beige – something that shows you're not only a great fit for the role, but you're also passionate about it.

How to avoid:

Make it specific. The more targeted your objective is, the better. Name the position and company you're applying for. It shows you've put thought into where you're applying and you’re not just blasting out resumes

Highlight your career goals and how they align with the company. This doesn’t mean saying you want to take over the CEO’s job in 5 years. Instead, focus on how you aim to grow and contribute to the company.

Finally, convey your value proposition. Why should the recruiter hire you? What do you bring to the table? What’s unique about you? In essence, what’s your USP (Unique Selling Point)?

That’s what you should capture.

Not Using Action Verbs

The only thing that’s worse than a bad resume is a bland resume.

Be real. “I was responsible for managing a team”, is boring. Yawn.

It’s not that managing a team is boring in any way or that it isn’t what you were really doing. But the point of a resume is not to list your duties. It’s to convey what makes you a good candidate.

What did you do? What does managing a team really mean? Were there targets you achieved? Did you bag an award? Did you deliver a project in record time? Did you improve processes?

What did you do?

If you’re not concentrating on that, you’re not going to impress any recruiter.

How to avoid:

Start your sentences with action verbs. This instantly makes your experiences more dynamic and engaging. You're no longer just responsible for tasks, you're leading, managing, and creating. Now that's a resume worthy of a second, maybe even third look!

Match your action verbs to the skills required in the job description. If they're looking for someone to "orchestrate a strategic plan," show them you've done it before.

“Led a dynamic team”, “Built an app with [insert feature]”, “Developed a strategic plan”, “Fostered robust client relationships” — these are the phrases you’re looking for. Phrases that convey your ambition, skills, drive, and talents.

Lacking in specificity

A lot of people secretly love reality shows. You know, The Bachelor, Love Island, stuff like that.

They’re very captivating, they’re shiny, and there are lots of things happening, but they do lack substance.

They’re fun and entertaining but at the end of the day, they’re a bit light on details and the specifics of how everything works.

You see where this is headed.

Resumes that lack specifics, data, stats, and numbers are quite shallow.

Saying you "improved company sales" or "handled customer service" in your resume might sound alright, but it's as vague as the concept of 'reality' in reality shows. A potential employer would be more interested in knowing how you improved those sales or what specifically you did in customer service.

How to avoid:

Use numbers, percentages, and quantifiable measures wherever you can. You don’t have to carpet bomb your resume with numbers but use them quite liberally.

Second, be specific about your tasks and achievements.

Don’t say “Handled customer service”.

Instead, say “Resolved 85% of customer complaints within a 24-hour window”.

Also, use relevant keywords that match the job description. This isn't about "keyword stuffing," but rather about ensuring your resume speaks the same language as the job posting.

In summary, remember that your resume is more than just a list of previous jobs and education. It's a carefully crafted document that tells the story of your professional life - think less "Jersey Shore" and more "The Sopranos".

Suggested: How to write a cover letter that actually works

Unexplained Gaps in Employment

An unexplained gap in your employment history can be as puzzling to recruiters as the ending of Inception. Was it a dream or reality? Were you job-hopping, backpacking across Europe, or maybe taking time off for personal reasons? They simply don't know, and this uncertainty can leave them hesitant to move forward with your application.

How to avoid:

Be straightforward and honest about your employment gaps. You don't need to provide a detailed explanation in your resume, but a simple note will help clear the air.

Also, highlight any constructive activities during the gap. If you took courses, did volunteer work, or freelanced, make sure to mention these.

This is where cover letters can be invaluable. When you apply for the job, briefly explain why there’s a gap in your resume, what you did during that time, and how you kept yourself productive. There’s a bad misconception that having a gap in your resume completely disqualifies you from every job in the world. That’s not the case. Yes, having a gap isn’t ideal but if you’re upfront about it and explain why there’s a gap, recruiters will appreciate it.

Inconsistent Formatting:

Inconsistent formatting is bad for two main reasons. The first is that it just looks weird. Now, is being weird a crime? Absolutely not. But when you’re looking for a job, the most important thing to convey to the recruiter is that you’re a professional. And having 32 different fonts on your resume is not the best way to do it.

The second reason is, of course, ATS. ATS simply cannot read a lot of fonts. The old, boring fonts are the only ones that ATS usually understands. By introducing multiple fonts throughout the resume, you’re actively sabotaging your chances.

And it’s not just fonts. Having too many font sizes on the resume isn’t great, either.

How to avoid:

Your name is going to be big and bold. Let’s ignore that, it’s fine.

You will then have three types of text on your resume.

  1. Section titles like work experience, skills, education, etc.

  2. Section sub-titles like company name, role, etc.

  3. Actual text — where you mention your skills, what you did during your time in a company, and so on.

Select three font sizes. Ideally, there shouldn’t be too much difference between them. 16, 14, and 12 is usually a good format.

Arial, Calibiri, Times New Roman — these are the fonts you want.

Also, keep the alignment of your text consistent. Whether you choose left alignment or justified text, make sure it's the same throughout.

Finally, maintain uniformity in your bullet points, margins, and line spacing. Remember, your resume is a reflection of your attention to detail.

Inaccurate or missing contact information

So, you've created a killer resume: all the qualifications, the right keywords, crisp and concise. You've nailed it. But if your contact information is unclear, inaccurate, or just missing, it’s all a complete waste.

The contact information on your resume is what’s called your “call to action”. Essentially, it’s your sign that says “Contact me, I'm awesome”. There should simply be no mistakes here.

Remember, recruiters go through hundreds of resumes for a given role. Sometimes, they just have a few minutes to spend on a resume. If they can’t find your contact information right away, they’re simply going to move on to the next candidate. It’s that simple.

How to avoid:

Ensure your full name, professional email address, and phone number are clearly stated at the top of your resume. It's your Batman signal to the recruiters. If you have a LinkedIn profile or professional portfolio, include these in your contact details. Finally, double-check, and then triple-check the accuracy of your contact details. There's nothing worse than missing a potential opportunity because of a silly typo.

Using a non-standard file type:

This is a mistake that’s more common than you might think. There are two simple reasons why you shouldn’t use a non-standard file type:

  1. The recruiter may not be able to open the file at all

  2. Even if they do open it, the formatting might look as jumbled as a toddler’s attempt at a jigsaw puzzle.

Both are bad.

How to avoid:

Resumes, by default, are always PDFs. It’s that simple.

However, always check the job description for any specified file type. Sometimes, recruiters might specify their preferred file type.


There you go — 11 common resume mistakes that every recruiter notices.

You won’t make most of these mistakes. But use this as a checklist and I’m sure you’ll find one or two slip-ups on your resume. Reference this checklist every time you update your resume. That way, you’ll send an amazing resume every time.

Now, once you have an awesome resume, it’s time to start applying. If you’re looking for remote jobs, make sure you check out Simple Job Listings. We list jobs for developers, software professionals, data scientists, cloud engineers, writers, editors, and all marketing professionals.

If you’re looking for remote jobs, Simple Job Listings is the place to be. We only list remote jobs, they almost always pay really well, and a huge chunk of the jobs that we list aren’t posted anywhere else.

Check out Simple Job Listings and find an amazing remote job. Good luck!

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