8 Common Resume Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

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Hiring managers and recruiters spend only a few seconds reviewing a resume before labeling it for further consideration or deletion. If you are sending our a lot of resumes but not getting interviews then you might be making these eight common resume mistakes.

1. Spelling Errors or Poor Grammar

Nearly half of all resumes and cover letters received by our employers contain spelling or grammatical errors. Submitting a resume or cover letter that is filled with spelling errors will cause the hiring manger to question your professionalism and ability to do the job.

If English is not your native language or you find using correct spelling and grammar difficult, use a spell checker and have someone proofread your resume and cover letter.

2. Getting Too Personal

The person reading your resume is not your friend, they do not need to know every small detail about your life. A resume should be short, succinct and have just enough information to make the hiring manager want to schedule an interview.

A couple of points to remember when filling out your resume:

Include a passport style photo.

All Japanese resumes include a photo. It goes without saying that you should be the only one in the photo but you’d be surprised at how many group photos we see. Also this isn’t a selfie, put on your work clothes and take a proper photo.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a photo either. You can find ID photo booths in many major Japanese cities. The cost to print out 4 photos is usually under ¥500.

Use a suitable contact email.

Pay special attention to the email address you are using. ‘partyboy3453@aol.com’ might have seemed cool when you were in college but it’s not the professional image that you want to send to a potential employer. The best email address is your full name.

Do not copy and paste cover letters.

A cover letter is your chance to show a potential employer that you’ve given some thought to why you would be the ideal candidate for this job. The worst mistake you can make on your cover letter is to copy and paste a message from a different company.

3. Adding Irrelevant Work Experience

Your application should show the employer that you match the requirements for the role you are applying for. Cut down (or cut out) any irrelevant work experience which will dilute the key message that you are the right person for the job.

Note: If applying for a teaching position, especially teaching children, you can add information that shows you are “genki” and good with people.

4. Showing off Hobbies and Oddities

It is good to list some hobbies that show your personality and are relevant to the position you are applying for but for the most part, employers do not need or want to know what you are up to in your spare time.

They do not need to know that you came to Japan for your love of AKB48…unless it is directly relevant to the job you are applying for.

5. Being Negative

Do not include negative language in your resume and cover letter, remain positive and replace the negative phrases with positive ones. One recent cover letter that we saw confessed that “I have an aggressive personality.”

6. Bending The Truth

Everyone adds a little polish to his or her resume, but you should avoid the temptation to embellish too much.

The majority of employers today are aware of social media and will use sites such as Facebook/LinkedIn to research your background. If you are sure that you are the best fit for the position you are applying for, there is no need to bend the truth.

7. Information Overload

Remember, your resume is not designed to get you a job. It is to get you an interview!

Keep your resume clean and concentrate on the relevant information:

  • Graduate level resume – 1 page
  • Experienced level (2-5 yrs.) – 2-3 pages
  • 4+ pages are more likely to be ignored by employers

8. Being Too Creative

We know you want to stand out, but being too creative (unless applying for a marketing position) will make your resume stand out in the wrong way. You can’t make someone like you, but you can take away reasons for them to dislike you.

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Host of the Speak Up Asia podcast.

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  • Rawnie says:

    Here’s a major issue I’m personally experiencing at the moment: my job application is in Japanese, and when I showed it to a native friend to proof it they made edits which appropriately express what I was trying to say regarding my desire to work for the company as well as accurately stating my past experience, but it uses kanji I couldn’t recognize if I looked at it on my own again and grammar that’s proper, but I still don’t know to use at the drop of a hat. What’s the right thing to do in that situation? I want to look like the best me possible on paper, but should I do that at the risk of misrepresenting my proficiency?

  • Winnie the Pooh says:

    I’m not a recruiter, but I read several resumes and interview three or four people per week at my company. I never trash resumes with spelling or grammar mistakes unless they’re totally riddled, or otherwise indicative of fundamental communication issues.

    Personally, I have a lot of issues with this stuff. I can’t stand the lack of writing ability that plagues most native English speakers (or perhaps mostly Americans); moreover, I can’t stand seeing it in material supposedly intended for large audiences. Worse yet is when anyone who has made it through higher education, and/or is perhaps teaching classes or writing things that they disseminate to students, throws a bunch of elementary errors into social networks or the like. This kind of thing really matters in terms of impression. I don’t like cringing, and these things make me cringe.

    So why don’t I trash these resumes if I care so much personally? Because hiring isn’t about ego, pet peeves, or other superficial judgments or prejudices. Because I’m not trying to compete with applicants directly*, using my personal priorities as a benchmark. Because people who write resumes that I read may or may not be native English speakers, even with names–which I try to ignore–like John Smith. And frankly, native English speakers who edit non-native resumes probably suck at writing too much to catch even the most common mistakes. In these cases, applicants are left trusting their editors in an ignorance-is-bliss sort of way, which is really unfortunate for them, and maybe also for me, if I toss them aside for something that doesn’t actually define the job requisition.

    From experience, I can say that some of the best, most brilliant people I’ve worked with, commonly mistake “their” for “there”. That’s OK, because we’re not sitting around leveraging that skill to stay successful.

    *I am, on the other hand, trying to compete with them directly using the job as a benchmark. People I hire should be better than me.

  • Debbie Cruz says:

    Spelling errors and grammar mistakes are simply unacceptable. If I am the employer, these mistakes are surely considered red flags. If you don’t have time to review your resume, it is a sign of your quality of work. Well, that’s just for me.

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