You might not have a lot of professional experience under your belt, but that does not mean that your resume should look amateur. There are a number of common mistakes that many applicants make – particularly those who are just starting their career. By avoiding these errors, you can quickly elevate the quality and appeal of your resume, and catch the coveted attention of hiring managers. 

Mistake #1: Using one generic resume for all applications 

This might be the fastest way to get your resume tossed into the reject pile. Hiring managers are looking for potential employees – even those at the entry-level – that they think would be a good fit in their organization. They are looking for someone that has both the skills and the personality that can positively contribute to the workplace, and a bunch of generic or irrelevant information is not going to be memorable. 

It is good to have a resume template that you can essentially update for each individual job posting that you apply for. This means highlighting the educational and personal experiences that best suit the requirements for the different position. You will also want to do more in-depth research about the company that you are applying for, so you can best position yourself as an excellent addition to the team. 

Mistake #2: Having a resume that is difficult for people – and programs – to read 

This is a mistake that many people make – and not just those who are recently out of school. This means that it is an opportunity to present yourself in a more professional manner than some of your peers who may have more experience than you.  

Hiring managers only spend about one minute looking at each resume, so you need to make sure that yours stands out, and fast. One of the best ways to do this is to include keywords from the job posting that can be quickly scanned. Use bolding and bullets to draw the readers’ attention to the most important parts of the document. 

Many job applications are submitted online, so it is also important to create a document that is ATS-friendly. Applicant Tracking Systems look for keywords that can be found in the job description. Keep in mind that formatting is important here. Using symbols or text effects can essentially make your document unreadable.  

Mistake #3: Either forgetting to edit or only self-editing 

Your resume is not ready to be submitted until it has passed the eyes of an editor, and I do not just mean spellcheck on Microsoft Word. Have a couple friends, family members, or even a professor take a look and offer suggestions. They should not just be reviewing for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but also making sure that your resume is clear and concise. 

Get Ready to Put Yourself Out There

Sure, applying for a new job is a scary thing – and particularly if it is your first. Remember that, for many entry-level positions, hiring managers are really looking for someone who will be a good fit, personality-wise, and who can quickly learn and grow with the company. Do not be afraid to let your personality shine through – at times, this can mean even more than professional experience.


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