Studies show employers are literally getting thousands of online applications for their open positions today. Thanks to technology, it's never been easier to apply to a job. Unfortunately, that creates a nightmare for recruiters. Narrowing down hundreds of candidates to the few they should interview is tough. Looking through tons of resumes makes even the most accomplished recruiter blurry-eyed. Over time, they start to see patterns in resume designs and begin to make assumptions about candidates based on what they see. 

"People hear what they see." - Doris Day

Studies show seasoned recruiters spend about six-seconds (yep, only six!) skimming your resume to decide if you even make the first cut. In particular, several design blunders send the message you're using an outdated resume format. Not only do these mistakes make it harder for recruiters to read and understand your skills and experience, it also gives them the impression you haven't done your homework and aren't up-to-date on the latest job search techniques. All of this sends a negative message that can get your resume in the circular file a/k/a trash can.

1. A fancy script font. That Times New Roman font someone told you to use to make your resume look, "classy and intelligent" is extremely tough to read. Any font with curly-tailed ends might look nice, but it actually slows down reading comprehension. Stick to a clean-lined font like Calibri to make your resume more readable.

2. A wordy, self-serving Objective statement. Imagine walking up to a stranger and the first thing out of your mouth was how accomplished you are and what you want in a new job. How do you think the person would react? That's essentially what you're doing when you put an Objective statement at the top of your resume. Think about it: you're applying to their job. They know what your objective is! Replace this stuffy paragraph with simple list of key skill sets that help them know what your specialize in.

3. Matchy-matchy margins. Having fully-justified margins that line up on either side of the page might look clean, but it creates uneven spacing between the words on your resume. This is very difficult to read. Recruiters will not retain as much information about you. We read fastest when there is just a single-space between each word. Left-justify your text so that it can be read normally.

P.S. Don't forget to PDF it.

All your hard work formatting your resume can go right out the window if you don't save it as a PDF file. In doing so, you can see if the formatting is off. I can't tell you how many times a job seeker has been tossed from the pile because the file they sent had saved funny and the formatting was all messed up. Recruiters see this as lack of attention to detail and a reason to eliminate you from consideration.

There are must-haves on every resume, but the three formatting mistakes above aren't some of them. Avoid looking out-of-touch by updating your resume so it quickly and efficiently provides the information employers need to put you in the "yes" pile.

Published on: Feb 27, 2018