9 mistakes job seekers made on their résumés in 2021 – and how to avoid them

·3 min read
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One small mistake on your resume could sink your job application.damircudic/Getty Images
  • Bad spelling and unexplained career gaps were among the most common mistakes on résumés in 2021, Adzuna says.

  • The jobs board analyzed more than 147,000 UK résumés uploaded to its online pay-rating tool.

  • Your résumé is your first chance to impress an employer, so it's essential it's the best it can be.

Bad spelling, unexplained career gaps, and excessive use of uppercase letters were among the most common mistakes job seekers made on their résumés in 2021, according to a study by Adzuna.

The jobs board analyzed around 147,000 UK résumés uploaded to ValueMyCV, a tool that estimates what workers should be earning based on what's in their résumé.

Sloppy spelling was the most common error identified, with 62.4% of résumés containing at least one mistake. This wasn't just misspelling, though: for UK applicants, using American spelling — for example, "analyze" instead of "analyse" — was a frequent problem.

Nearly one-third of the résumés analyzed by Adzuna didn't include a personal summary, making this the second-most common error. The personal summary is essentially an elevator pitch, which recruiters use to find out more about an applicant's skills and what they can bring to a role.

The third most common error uncovered by Adzuna related to unexplained gaps on a person's résumé. The Great Resignation is starting to change the attitudes of some recruiters towards career gaps but they still need to be explained, and 27% of résumés failed to address them.

Your résumé is your first chance to impress a potential employer, so it's essential it's in good order to give a good impression.

Missing or invalid postal addresses was the fourth-most common mistake, followed by résumés that were either too long or too short. Recruiters typically advise writing a résumé on no more than two sheets of paper.

The sixth-most common mistake found by Adzuna was having a broken link to an online résumé. The seventh was an invalid or missing phone number, and the eighth was an invalid or missing email address. Excessive use of uppercase letters was deemed the ninth-most common mistake.

A hiring manager typically spends a few seconds glancing over a résumé before making a decision about whether or not to progress an application. The increasing use of AI-based scanning tools to assess résumés before considering them means they can be automatically filtered out of the process if inaccuracies are discovered.

A good résumé should always be tailored to the role you're applying for, recruiters say. It should also be laid out in a consistent format that avoids block text when listing your achievements, they say.

A sloppy résumé can mean that a job seeker falls at the first hurdle, Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said.

"Taking care to outline career ambitions in a personal statement and indicating employment preferences like remote or hybrid working can help set expectations," Hunter said. "It may also help fast-track a job seeker finding a good match in an employer, and hopefully a fulfilling future career path."

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