Top 10 Resume Failures

Top 10 Resume Failures

Have you ever wondered what it is that you might be doing wrong; resulting in your resume not being successful?

Do you want to make your resume stand out from the hundreds of other applications possibly submitted for the same role? Do you want to just understand a little bit more about this document that can make, and break, an opportunity? As part of the launch of, we will provide dedicated industry tips and tricks to support in your resume development, or help to understand why it has become an industry requiring accreditation and specialisation across Australia. In the current Australian market, getting your resume right is extremely important. Recruiters will not accept a resubmission of a resume for a role and many organisations have introduced a no further submission policy; not allowing applicants to re-apply for roles for a set period of time. As harsh as these may appear, you can ensure that these policies do not impact you by focussing on getting your resume right the first time. There are a number of issues that we have seen firsthand, as well as had brought to our attention, that we have now categorised in our top 10 failures of a resume.

  1. Incorrect contact details – you would be alarmed at the number of people, including senior executives, which type their contact phone numbers incorrectly on their application form and resume.
  2. Poor language – your resume represents immediately to the reader who you are, and this includes your ability to communicate effectively in the English written language. Incorrect words, poor language and an obvious overuse of the thesaurus so words are no longer used in the correct context does not support an applicant’s credibility or professionalism.
  3. Unreadable format – there are a number of online sites that allow you to create a very attractive graphic document. The downfall with many of these is that they save the format into a picture rather than text document. Many e-recruitment tools or automated recruitment applications cannot read the text within this format, resulting in your document not even being able to be reviewed or uploaded into the recruitment database.
  4. Too much white space – gone are the days where a single position to a page was standard in a resume. With the desire to make documents as short as possible, recruiters prefer well formatted resumes with minimal white space. Research has also proven that too much white space can distract the reader from the content, making your resume less appealing to the proposed audience.
  5. No link to the position applied for – your career objective or marketing statement, as well as your key skills, must link to the role applied for. If the reader of the document is unable to ascertain the reason for receiving your application, or the purpose of the document, you will immediately cause the reader to become disinterested in your document.
  6. Job task list – responsibility lists can be an effective way to represent previous experience, however directly copying a task list from a job description, or using simple English language terms to present previous skills, will again disinterest the reader and be a poor representation of an applicant’s capabilities and skills. Additionally, this type of approach will never result in an applicant standing out during the early application process.
  7. Gaps in years of employment – Most employees will have a leave of absence at one period during their career. How this is explained is key to ensuring that the red flag is not raised when the recruiter is reading the application. Explaining all gaps will identify to the recruiter the reason for not working during this period and will support the applicant presenting a strong work ethic.
  8. Too long – Don’t bore the reader! Use the first page to get all of the important information across and anything after to demonstrate what makes you an ideal candidate. Don’t oversell experience or appear arrogant by not presenting achievements with the challenges as well as the successes.
  9. Too short – We are not in America. Unless specified, a one page resume will do very little without the supportive statements needed to demonstrate success. Don’t summarise your career to the point of not having enough information on there as this will alarm the reader and will not help to engage their interest.
  10. Written in first person referencing yourself – A resume is always best written in first person but without the personal preference. This style of writing has been researched to be more engaging and effective when presenting an applicant to a recruiter. The ongoing personal reference appears arrogant and does not allow the reader to be subjective in their assessment of the content. What this means is to not include I, My, Me at all in a resume document.

As we mentioned earlier, these are only our Top 10 failures of a resume. The whole process can be very daunting but without understanding and ensuring that you get it right, the process will become more difficult and stressful. Focus on your goals and ensure that you create a document directly targeted to achieving this and you will be able to improve your overall success rate.

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Copyright 2016 - Rebecca Fraser