The One Resume Mistake That Gets Noticed Immediately By Employers

The one resume mistake that gets noticed immediately

Your resume is such a crucial element of any job search that you really want to get it right.

Through your resume alone, and without ever having met you, a potential employer will form an opinion of you.

And you want that to be a good opinion if you are to stand a chance of landing the job you’ve applied for.

But before you can make a good impression with your resume (see our 10 tips on how to write a resume), you have to avoid making a bad impression.

Remember, employers can have dozens of resumes for every job advertised, so they use filters to reduce the number of resumes to a manageable shortlist of candidates to interview.

So what is the very first filter that influences an employer’s opinion of your resume, and therefore of you?

The initial appearance of your resume.

It’s as simple as that.

If there is something obviously wrong with your resume that can be spotted just from looking at it, and without even reading it, then this is a sure fire way to rule yourself out of the running straight away.

Especially so when the recruiter has a whole pile of resumes to read through.

To put it bluntly – if your resume looks bad, it creates a negative impression right away.

No matter how good the content is, and no matter how well suited you are for the role, before the employer has even had chance to read anything on your resume they already have a negative impression.

Let’s be clear:

Your skills, experience, and suitability for the role are what will get you the job, not a good looking resume.

But in order to really blow your audience away with the outstanding content of your resume, they must read what you’ve actually written, which takes at least a few minutes of somebody’s time.

But before your potential new boss even gets chance to read your resume content, in a matter of just a few seconds they will start to form an opinion simply from the appearance of your resume.

What to consider for a good looking resume

Here are some common mistakes to avoid if you want your resume to pass the very first filter:

  • Coloured paper – anything but white is not OK.
  • Coloured text – there is no need for anything other than black.
  • Inconsistent fonts throughout the document. For example, paragraphs of the same level should use the same size text.
  • Too much bold, italic and / or underline.
  • Inconsistent indentations for paragraphs and bullet points.
  • Different bullet styles for same level lists.

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  • Left hand margin different size to the right hand margin.
  • Too much ‘white space’, i.e. the content of your resume is not evenly spaced on the page.
  • Text too big – looks like you having nothing to say and you’re just trying to fill space.
  • Text too small – makes it difficult for the reader to read.
  • Not enough spacing between sentences and paragraphs – too close together and it looks too congested.
  • Too much spacing between sentences and paragraphs – just like oversized text, this looks like you don’t have much to say about yourself and you’re just trying to fill space.

Some of these points may seem petty to you. There are many times when you will hear people say things like ‘substance over style’ – and to a large extent they are right.

But get the style wrong, and it’s a distraction from the substance.

A perfectly formatted resume with a crisp and clear layout won’t necessarily gain you any points with the reader. But if you get it wrong, you will definitely lose points.

And if you get it very wrong, it can rule you out of consideration completely. Why put yourself in a negative starting position when all it takes is a little time and attention to get it right?

This advice applies to resumes in most industries. However, creative industries are an exception to most of these guidelines as it is often expected to be somewhat creative with the style of your resume.

But even then, the principal of the appearance of your resume being the first influencer of your potential employer’s opinion still stands.

What you should do now

Armed with this knowledge, I encourage you to take a fresh look at your resume and consider it’s initial appearance, before even starting to look at the content.

You may even want to ask a colleague, a friend or a family member to cast their eye over it and give you their honest feedback.

You should also share this article to help other people in your network understand the one resume mistake that gets noticed immediately by employers so they too can do something about it.

You may also want to read our article: 10 tips on how to write a resume.