Top 5 Resume Mistakes

Did you know that at most companies a computer reads your resume first, not a person? Or that at least 75 percent of resumes are discarded for using the wrong words? That more than 20 percent of resumes don’t make the list due to formatting issues? How about that only 1 percent of total applicants get an interview? 

To combat this and drastically increase your odds of landing a new job, here are five strategies you should employ. 

1. Don’t Get Overly Creative 
This might sound counterintuitive, but most large companies use software to filter resumes so your experience might be overlooked altogether if you try and get fancy and list your Work Experience as Career Highlights.

2. Don’t Format Your Resume as a PDF
You are missing job opportunities if you do. Many people use PDF as their preferred resume format, however it is far more error prone than MS Word, Text, or even HTML. If you are using PDF, you are likely missing out on interviews because a hiring company is not seeing your whole resume.

3. Customize Your Resume for Each Position and Company
This is a must. Here is the hard truth: a single resume will not position you properly for every job. We analyzed thousands of candidates and found a successful resume varies significantly from one job to another—the same resume can have a job fit rating of anywhere from 9 percent to 73 percent. Since a resume is one of your best assets, it is surprising so many candidates fail to tailor it to each job. Regardless of how you get into a company—even if it’s through networking—hiring companies will use your resume to determine if you are qualified, and a general resume is a poor choice.

4. Always Format Your Resume for Automated Recruiting
A human will not read your resume until after it has been read, parsed, and classified by a computer. Even then, a human will only read it if it is a good match to the job description. It won’t matter how pretty it is, or how well you write about your qualifications if the computer is unable to interpret the specifics.

5. Use Keywords
Hiring managers receive a summary report generated by applicant tracking system (ATS) software that removes bias-causing problems, tracks equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) compliance and performance, and supposedly levels the playing field across the applicant pool. Regardless of how a resume gets in front of someone—a friend, a job board, a recruiter, or an online application—everyone goes through these ATS systems. Identifying keywords and knowing how you rank through ATS systems used to be guesswork, but today there are technology tools available to assist job seekers in incorporating appropriate keywords into their resumes. You would be wise to strategically use such words.

Jonathan Ciampi is the president and founder of Danville, CA-based Preptel Corporation, which provides candidate optimization services that showcase an individual’s strengths. For more information, visit or call (800) 408-1497.