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Resume mistakes that get yours lost in the application black hole

Nov 28, 2019

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Everyone knows pencils come with erasers because people make mistakes, but resumes aren’t written with pencils. And when recruiters receive an average of 250 resumes per corporate job post, yours can't contain the types of mistakes that will get it lost in a staffing agency’s database.

More often than not, the reason for your resume rebuff is a little robot called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and its parser feature. When you're looking for a job, its job is to locate and separate the appropriate info on your resume required to assess your application. 

Here are the most common mistakes job seekers want to avoid, so a staffing agency can contact you:

Typos in your email address
Every resume received by a staffing agency goes through an (ATS) parser and is separated from the email from which it was sent. This means only the attached document is accessible to the recruiter. "Double check that you didn’t hit the z versus the a in your email," advises Wendy. "For example, Mzxwell.church@gmail.com vs. Maxwell.church@gmail.com. You also want to make sure you aren't missing a letter in your name like Mawell.church@gmail.com."

Missing digits in your phone number
Attention to detail is critical to your application. Don’t forget to check that you have all the digits in your phone number. When recruiters receive an average of 250 resumes per corporate job posting, they aren’t going to try to guess which number you missed, and you might just miss out on a call.

Spaces in your email or phone number
Regardless of how much more pleasing it may seem to the eye, the ATS parser doesn't believe in aesthetics. "Don’t put spaces in your email or phone number… no matter how much nicer you think it looks," Wendy warns. "The parser wont be able to collect all the digits or full email address because it doesn’t read spaces." For example, don't write:  4 1 6 -  7 6 9 -  1 0 2 8 vs. 416-769-1028  or  S A L L Y . M A X W E L L @ G M A I L . C O M  vs. maxwell@gmail.com.

Wrong domains
There's a different between .com and .ca! You also want to double check your domain to make sure you have spelt it properly or put the right ending on your email address to avoid bounce backs. There are major differences between Maxwell@teus.com vs. Maxwell@telus.ca or Maxwell@gmail.ca vs. Maxwell@gmail.com.  

No email at all
Email can be a mandatory field in an ATS, so if you forget to list yours, you many never make it into the system for the role you're applying for or any future opportunities. 

Not listing your postal code
Recruiters use a radial search by postal code to find qualified candidates closest to the job site first -- before going through a second round of searches. If your postal code isn't listed, you won't be found during this initial (and most critical) search. 

No contact details in the email body
Remember,  the email address and body of your email is often separated by the parser as your resume makes it way into the ATS.


"Ensure your full name, address, phone and email are not only in your email signature but in the body of resume as well." 


Inserting headers or footers
Leave the fancy headers and footers off your resume -- the robots can't read them! ATS parsers can't see the details and key information within this format, so they won't get connected with your profile. Always ensure that you have your contact details listed with the body of your resume. 

Including only a first name 
Unless you're Madonna or Cher, you're going to have to include your full name. Using only your first name will reward you with an error message, as many ATS's require both first and last as a required field. 

Blocking out digits of your phone number
Privacy is important, but when you're intention is to be contacted, you need to disclose your full phone number. 416-455-xxxx will leave your recruiter guessing and your resume in the black hole.

Inconsistent spacing
"When you use improper spacing on your resume, an ATS will read the content as though it's all blended together," explains Wendy. For example, if you don't use proper spacing between an email address and y our postal code, the parser will read it like this: Maxwell.church@gmail.comT5J3Z3. And we know this presents a problem! 

Remember, robots are tricky because they're searching for top talent with the skills and experience suited for a specific role. Don't miss out because you didn't properly submit!

Are you working with a staffing firm to find your next great opportunity?View jobs

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