• 5 Common Resume Mistakes and How to Avoid Getting Your Resume Thrown Out in the First Six Seconds

    Many people tell me that “recruiters spend an average of six seconds reading a resume.” What are the quick things that they look for to determine if a candidate is the right fit? I asked a recruiter who has had thousands of resumes come across his desk — Trevor Richards, Account Manager and Technology Recruiter at PeerSource. He described five of the most common resume mistakes and provided insight into how to avoid these common hang-ups.

    Mistake #1: Not including key technical skills

    “If I am looking for a specific technical skill set and you are missing some or all of the keywords, I may take a few seconds to see if those keywords are somewhere in your work history. If not, I’ll move on to the next candidate,” Richards explained.


    All hands-on IT professionals need to have a “Skills and Technologies” section on the first page of his or her resume. Do not assume that the recruiter will read on and search for this section.

    Do not include technologies that you don’t have experience with on your resume. Unless you are applying for a Mainframe role, be mindful not to include COBOL or any other outdated technologies.

    Mistake #2: Including irrelevant job titles and responsibilities

    “As a recruiter, I pay attention to a candidate’s professional experiences. If their past titles have nothing to do with the job that they are applying for — or prove that they are either underqualified or overqualified — it does not make sense to take the time to read the responsibilities,” the Account Manager said.


    Don’t lie about your title, but if you had other responsibilities where a different title would make sense, add a further description to your original title.

    For example, a Network Administrator that also took part in some network design could include the title: “Network Administrator with network design experience.” A Software Developer who helped architect the solution could call himself or herself a “Software Developer with Architect experience.”

    Mistake #3: Appearing to be a job-hopper

    Richards described the importance of longevity — “When looking over a resume, I pay attention to the candidate’s job duration. If every job that you have held has only been 1-2 years in length, some hiring managers may have initial concerns about a candidate potentially being a job-hopper.”


    One of the greatest mistakes that candidates make is not clarifying that his or her contract roles were actual contracts and not short-term stints. If you had a string of short-term contracts, it is wise to group them under one “company” such as “Independent Consultant.” Make the duration from the date you started your first contract to the date you ended your last contract.

    At PeerSource, we are able to communicate directly with hiring managers and clarify the situations that led to a candidate frequently changing positions.

    Mistake #4: Not expressing the depth of your experience

    Trevor Richards looks at resumes day in and day out. Additionally, he is in daily or at minimum weekly contact with hiring managers, so he knows exactly what clients are looking for. “As a recruiter, I have a good idea of how much experience a potential candidate needs to have to succeed in the position. A quick glance at an individual’s resume gives me almost instant feedback as to if they should be considered for the role,” he said.


    If you are applying for a senior-level role and only have four years of experience, consider this — do you have any internships or previous freelancing work that you did in the past, perhaps through college? Some hiring managers and recruiters will count that towards your professional experience.

    If you feel like you are overqualified for a particular position due to your extensive years on the job, take off some of your old, outdated roles from the ‘90s. This will allow the recruiter to focus on what you have been doing recently.

    Mistake #5: Spelling errors

    In the candidate-centric IT job market that we are currently in, recruiters can’t be picky about minor spelling and grammar errors when unemployment is so low. Richards gave insight into the mindset of a recruiter — “We are not going to toss out a resume because the candidate misspelled something. But, multiple errors will add up and may make us question your detail-oriented skills even if you otherwise have the right qualifications for the position.”


    In order to put your best foot forward, read your resume over and over again. Of course, use every tool at your disposal to check for spelling and grammar errors, but also consider having a second pair of eyes look over it to catch any mistakes.


    Samantha Snellings is the Social Media Manager at PeerSource and a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last summer, she interned for senior White House correspondent, John Gizzi, in Washington. She attended the daily White House press briefings, wrote articles, and only occasionally got in trouble with the Secret Service for stepping on the president’s lawn. She is passionate about her faith, journalism, entrepreneurship, traveling, and politics.

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