Top Five R?sum? Mistakes

By Jonathan Ciampi  

At most companies, computers read your résumé first, not humans. At least 75 percent of résumés are discarded for using the wrong words, and more than 20 percent of résumés don’t make the list due to formatting issues. Incredibly, only 1 percent of job applicants even get an interview.

Here are five ways to significantly increase your odds:


1. Don’t get overly creative.

      This may be counterintuitive, but most large companies use software to filter résumés, so your experience might be overlooked altogether if you try to get fancy and, for example, list your “Work Experience” as “Career Highlights.” <li”>


2. Don’t send your résumé as a PDF. Many people are using PDF as their preferred résumé format, but this format is far more error-prone than MS Word, text or even HTML. If you use PDF, you are likely missing out on many interviews because the hiring company may not see your whole résumé, and you’ll be bypassed on job opportunities. <li”>


3. Customize your résumé for each position. This is critical because a single résumé will not position you properly for every job. We analyzed thousands of candidates and found that a résumé will need to be changed significantly for different job openings. Regardless of how you approach a company, even if you do it via networking, hiring companies will use your résumé to determine whether you are qualified, and a general résumé is a poor choice.

<li”>4. Always format your electronic résumé for automated recruiting. A human will not read your résumé until after it has been read, parsed and classified by a computer. Even then, a human will read it only if it is a good match for the job description. It won’t matter how pretty your formatted résumé is or how well you write about your qualifications if the computer is unable to interpret the specific details about your past job experience.

<li”>5. Use keywords. Hiring managers receive a summary report generated by Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software that removes bias-causing problems, tracks EEOC compliance and performance, and supposedly levels the playing field across the applicant pool. Regardless of how a résumé gets in front of a company—friend, job board, recruiter or online application—everyone goes through these ATS systems. Identifying keywords and knowing how you rank through ATS systems used to be guesswork, but today’s technology tools are finally able to point job seekers to the keywords that will help them get the job they want.


Jonathan Ciampi is the president and founder of Preptel, based in Danville, Calif. The company provides candidate optimization services that showcase an individual’s strengths and provide insight to compete in the competitive job market. You can contact him at [email protected].