While unemployment levels may change over time, one thing remains certain: Your resume can make or break your chances to land an interview. And there are some mistakes that can be immediate deal breakers, depending on the recruiter. Others can just make it more difficult for you to land the job you want.
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
"The adage is true: You only get one chance to make a first impression, especially in the digital world,” says Vicki Salemi, career expert with job-search website Monster, based in Weston, Massachusetts.
And while some mistakes are obvious — like failing to proofread, others are less so. Here are 10 resume mistakes you will want to avoid as you prepare to go after your next big thing midcareer.
Mistake 1: Ignoring the basics
Even though it's among the most common advice given to job seekers, many applicants fail to proofread and ensure the document is free of grammar, spelling and punctuation errors and typos. In fact, in a 2018 TopResume survey, 79 percent of recruiters reported spelling and grammatical errors in a candidate's resume as their biggest deal breaker.
Other pet peeves included incorrect or missing contact information (52 percent) and unprofessional email addresses (46 percent). So, forgo your email@example.com address, and create a free email account with a more professional moniker.
Mistake 2: Not including important keywords
Today, many companies use computer programs known as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to keep track of resumes and candidates. This human resources (HR) software acts as a database, allowing in-house recruiters to find candidates that have applied to the firm. The ATS looks for keywords that match its job descriptions. So, be sure your resume incorporates words from the job description.
Let's say the company is looking for someone to join the HR team as a recruiter. Include that word, as appropriate, in your titles and text. But also include a few synonyms, such as “talent acquisition professional” or “HR specialist,” so if ATS users search for other terms for the role, they will more easily find you, Salemi says.
APPLYING FOR A JOB?
AARP RESUME ADVISOR CAN HELP
Free resume review provides tips for highlighting your skills and experience.