The five common resume mistakes that could be stopping you from getting to an interview

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By Therese Lardner 

Job search can be a frustrating time, especially when it seems like you’re applying for as many roles as you can, sending off applications that you think really hit the mark, only to hear nothing back.

I would always suggest trying to get feedback but when you can’t access any, then what?

Here are the five most common mistakes that lead to resumes going into the 'no pile':

  • The application hasn’t been tailored to the role: Just because two jobs have the same job title, that doesn’t then mean that they’re exactly the same. To someone reading applications (be it the hiring manager, a recruiter or HR team member) generic applications stick out like a sore thumb and are a clear indication that you’re not all that interested in the job. Take the time to submit fewer, higher quality applications. Your hit rate will be much better taking this approach. To customise an application, go through the job ad and pull out the skills/experience they’re looking for, the qualifications and any key words that get repeated throughout the ad. Use this information to guide what you focus on in your resume and cover letter and make sure that this information appears early in both documents. Which leads me to the next common mistake...
  • The reader has to work too hard to find the relevant information: Have you ever had feedback that your application was lacking in some area and you think, 'But I had that in there!' Odds are it was hidden, not written in a compelling enough way or not conveyed in a way that the reader could understand. Put yourself in the reader's shoes: what do they need to know straightway to give them the resounding response of "Yes! We MUST meet this person!"
  • You include irrelevant information: Details such as date of birth, marital status, health status or even a photo create unnecessary noise in your resume and distract the reader from what you’re trying to say. It also gives them reason to make assumptions about who you are and what you know that may not actually be true. It also pads out a resume.
  • The resume is too long: For most people, a 2-3 page resume is enough to get the right information across. Any longer and you’re including information that is out of date or not relevant. Any shorter and it’s unlikely you’ve given them what they need to make the right choice to interview you.
  • You don’t focus on achievements: The most important part of a resume is information on what you’ve achieved. This is what communicates to the reader what you can potentially achieve for their organisation. For each of your recent roles, it is essential that you include 2-3 bullet points that describe what you’ve achieved in terms of outcomes. It could be money saved, processes improved, changes implemented or targets reached. It just needs to be tangible and specific.

Any one of these five common mistakes could be the reason your applications are not being as successful as you want them to be. By taking some extra time and effort with each individual application, you really can improve the odds of getting exactly what you want – an interview.


Therese Lardner is the lead psychologist for Mindset Coaching and Consulting. She's a registered psychologist with extensive experience in all areas of the employment cycle from recruitment and selection to development, employee engagement and career transition. Click here to ask for her expert advice on landing your perfect mining and resources job, moving up the career ladder or dealing with job insecurity.

Click here for lots more expert career advice from Therese Lardner.