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How to Proofread Your Resume and Avoid Common Mistakes

When you apply for a job, your resume is the first impression you make on a potential employer. The average recruiter spends just <em>6 seconds</em> looking at a resume before deciding whether to cast it aside or call the candidate for an interview, so your resume needs to be its very best to make an immediate impression. That means avoiding mistakes on your resume.

After you've built your resume, whether it be with the help of our resume builder or by hand, resume proofreading is the game-changing step to prevent the typo that could cost you your next job.

We'll take you through the variety of connections you can leverage for your resume review process, in addition to the most common resume mistakes to be on the lookout for. Soon, you'll have a perfect resume that will make a positive impression in less than 6 seconds flat.

Streamline and organize your experience to be easy for your reader to take in.

The Most Common Resume Mistakes to Watch Out For

1. General Clarity

Your resume's ability to make a clear statement is perhaps the most important thing to verify when critiquing it. For this step, it's beneficial to have a second (or third, or fourth) opinion. When asking someone to review your resume, ask them:

  • Do each of my bullet points make sense to you?
  • Does my experience flow in a logical way, either chronologically, functionally (by type of experience) or a combination of both?  
  • Do you get a full sense of what I would bring to the role?

Ultimately, these are the things that will make or break your job prospects. Build a team of people willing to help your resume reach perfection and be grateful for their help.

2. Outdated and irrelevant information

It's essential to customize your resume directly to the job you are applying for. This can sometimes mean removing accomplishments that you are proud of if they don't explain why you are a good fit for the role.

Let's say you are applying for a role in sales. The fact that you won an award for your coding skills six years ago is nice, but it isn't directly related to the role and is thus taking up valuable resume space.

It's also important to regularly "clean out" any outdated experience from your resume. For college graduates, this can mean removing any high school clubs or awards from your resume. Your college experience will be much more valuable to an employer, and therefore, should be highlighted.

3. Formatting issues

The correct resume format can streamline and organize your experience to be easy for your reader to take in. The wrong format could make things more confusing, or even just plain boring. This is an area where the opinion of others will matter greatly. If your mother and career counselor both think your resume format is confusing, there's a good chance your employer will feel similarly, even if you think it's clear. For a quick, efficient way to get a clean format for your resume, use our Resume Builder.

We suggest formatting your resume in one of three ways:

  • Chronologically, where your most recent work experience is at the top and the resume is set up in reverse chronological order
  • Functionally, where your skills and achievements are the focus
  • Combination or hybrid, which focuses on both your work experience and your skills.

Learn more about these three resume styles on our resume formats page.

4. Typos

Although typos seem like a no-brainer to check for, you'd be surprised how often they go overlooked. Because of the short window, you have to wow your future employer, even a simple typo could instantly get your resume tossed aside. Try reading your resume from bottom to top to look for misspelled words. Then read it out loud to check for grammar and punctuation errors. A fresh pair of eyes will go a long way here, as well. Using an online grammar-checker is another way to catch mistakes.

Who Should Review Your Resume?

Recruiting a trusted, intelligent mentor to review your resume is a crucial step before releasing it out into the world. Your network is your greatest asset during your job search. Cultivate relationships within the field where you want to work.

You will likely spend some time perfecting and tweaking your resume, while also updating your resume to be relevant to each position. A fresh pair of eyes provides the perspective needed to make it perfect for potential employers. Take a moment to think about who you currently have in your network that would be willing to critique your resume:

1. A career counselor

If you are a student or a recent graduate, career counselors at your school can be a fantastic resource for resume help. They are professionals in the employment realm and have plenty of experience editing resumes. It's also their job to want the best for you.

2. A contact who works in the industry

Someone who currently works in the industry you're applying to is an excellent resource to leverage in the resume editing process. They will be able to clue you in on industry terms, taboos and red flags that you may be unaware of. They may also be able to give advice about which skills are most valued in the industry at the current moment. That up-to-date knowledge can help you position your resume to highlight those skills.

3. A contact of yours who works at the company you're applying to

If you have a close contact or friend who works at the company you're applying to work for, they will be able to give you specific resume advice based on the values, tone and needs of the company.

4. A professional resume consultant

If you're willing to invest some money in your job search, a professional resume review is an excellent option to guarantee your resume is application-ready. These consultants know the ins and outs of resumes and will be honest about the improvements you need to make.

5. You!

You are ultimately the person who knows yourself best, While feedback from others is valuable, if a proposed change isn't sitting right with you, go with your gut. It's better to feel confident that your updated resume puts your best foot forward. To better weigh in on your resume, set it aside for a day and then reread it. Does it still sound like the best wording? Did you forget anything? Reading your resume out loud is a way to discover if awkward phrasings or if you've left anything out.

How We Can Help You Build an Error-free Resume

Our resume builder can help you create a resume that best highlights your experience and education, so you can polish and hone it during your revision process to land your next dream job. You'll be able to pick from professionally-designed templates and will receive industry-specific bullet points. We give you unlimited access to resumes and cover letters and check your resumes for common mistakes.

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