The Number 1 Resume Mistake You're Making, According to Hiring Experts
You’re looking for a new job (ugh, the worst) and you’re in the middle of the application process (ugh, the very worst). Naturally, you want to make your resume stand out from everyone else’s. From exaggerating experiences—did that summer you spent as a camp counselor really teach you conflict management? —to printing on pink paper and adding a spritz of perfume à la Elle Woods, there are all sorts of tactics you can try to set yourself apart. But there’s one resume no-no that has a career expert on TikTok shaking her head.
So, what’s this big resume mistake everyone’s making?
Formatting your resume incorrectly. Picking a template seems like a straightforward task, but there are a lot of pitfalls when you’re trying to make yours look cool, edgy and full of personality. According to HR administrator Jackie Caves on TikTok, many applicants are adding pictures, using bold colors and adding text boxes and circles in an attempt to make their resumes more eye-catching. Um, don’t do this.
Here’s why: Bedazzling your resume might work in your favor if the recipient opens it directly from email. But most companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) such as Greenhouse, Workday or Workable—which are programs that scan and rank resumes so they can be seen by hiring managers or HR reps. These programs don’t recognize pictures, so when a resume that has images goes through an ATS none of them translate. Resumes that are also created in programs such as InDesign or Canva will also probably come out looking wonky.
What should you do instead?
Unless you’re certain the company you’re applying to doesn’t use an ATS, stick to a good old black-and-white Microsoft Word doc or PDF. It may seem bland and boring, but keeping things simple gives your potential boss the chance to fully analyze your resume, and you can give them an undistracted scope of your work history. Without all the extra decoration, your potential employer won’t have to deal with reformatting your resume, increasing your chances of snagging an interview (when you can wow them with your dazzling personality instead).
Not sure if your resume makes the cut? Upload it to JobScan or ResumeWorded. From there, you can optimize the content and format to make sure you’re the focal point, not your bright pink Comic Sans font.