resume disguiseBy Ann Eastham, Career Coach at America Public University

The goal of a resume is to get your skills and accomplishments noticed. Simply put, it is the snapshot of all your skills and experiences that you are hoping will impress a recruiter or hiring manager. There are certain mistakes I have witnessed people make, which they believe are setting them apart, though actually may be hurting them:

Resume is longer than it should be

Know the standard length for a resume in your desired sector, regardless of your level of expertise or experience. A longer resume is not always more impressive, and in fact, it can be detrimental. Let’s put it in perspective; a typical recruiter or hiring manager is going to spend approximately six seconds looking at your resume before deciding if you should be considered further. That valuable information you buried on page three is not going to be looked at…ever. As a result, be cautious to not over-inflate your skills to reach additional full pages. If you cannot honestly fill a resume with enough skills and experiences to reach two pages, keep it to one. A well written and tailored one page resume, will be more impressive than two pages filled with irrelevant (and perhaps untruthful) information.

Unsupported ‘buzzwords’

Buzzwords are often used to help tailor a resume towards a specific job or field. While this may be a great way to start developing your resume, you want to make sure that you’ve gone on to further demonstrate them by providing examples and corresponding accomplishments. For example, you’ve listed excellent written communication skills as a bullet point. Great! Though what does that really mean to the reader? In other words, prove it with specific examples and, if applicable, supporting numbers.


In many cases an HR Department will automatically discard your resume if it contains a picture of you. This is done to avoid any chance they may be accused of discrimination or bias due to your appearance. Furthermore, including pictures can also “clog” the applicant tracking system being used, and could make your resume unreadable in the event it makes it through the system.

Eccentric font and colors

Much like pictures, specialized fonts and colors may not make it through applicant tracking systems unscathed. If the colored border you put around your resume to make it stand out is not compatible with the software, it may distort your resume in a way that makes it unreadable and unable to be reviewed. Should this happen, a recruiter isn’t going to contact you to let you know about the issue, they’re simply moving on to the next applicant.

Avoiding some of these common mistakes will help to ensure that your resume gets more than a quick glance; which in return may end up leading to an interview!

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