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Hiring Managers Tell Us About the Most Common Résumé Mistakes

You’ve been scanning sites like Indeed and Craigslist for weeks (months, even) in hot pursuit of potential employment. Then one morning, you find it — the listing for your dream job! You spruce up your résumé and send it over, willing it to be a match. Only unbeknownst to you, it contains the kind of red flags that make hiring managers consider you a nonstarter.

More: Why Times New Roman Is an Awful Font to Use on Your Résumé

So what should you do to ensure your résumé doesn’t end up in the recycling bin? Well, we’ve got something even better than a to-do list for you: a to-don’t list. We tapped hiring managers to find out what mistakes and faux pas will tank your chances of getting the job. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Don’t ghost the employer

“The most ‘annoying’ mistake on a résumé is not seeing a phone number. You would be surprised the amount I have seen without a phone number to call back — or sometimes even a name! The candidate could have the perfect qualifications, and we would have no way of contacting them for the position. We’d just have to pray for a callback.” — Susan L., medical field

“If you are applying for a job, answer your emails and your phone! Don’t expect me to text you.” — Katie D., food and beverage industry

“It never looks good when you call the applicant and their voicemail isn’t set up, is full or has a ridiculous song to listen to.” — Andrea L., social work field

2. Don’t forsake grammar rules

“Bad grammar is an instant red flag for me. If the applicant is not capable of submitting an adequate application, then I question their ability in all areas.” — Sabrina O., medical field

“Grammar is a given for me. If you can’t take the time to use spellcheck or properly capitalize appropriate words… pass.” —  Misti G.

“Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and the like are important. And those pesky run-on sentences drive me nuts.” — Anne M., home and design industry

3. Don’t play hide-and-seek with your references

“I prefer an attached reference list so that I don’t have to ask for it later.” — Angel W., medical field

“Personally, I prefer references and their contact information to be included on the résumé. I don’t want to have to contact you for ‘references upon request.'” — Emily M., veterinary field

More: 5 Ways to Tell if Your Job Is Making You Sick… Literally

4. Don’t underestimate the importance of skimmability

“Several things come to mind: poor grammar, wordy descriptions instead of bullet points, fancy fonts that are hard to read. It needs to be easy to read and neat.” — Angel W., medical field

“When lines are not properly indented. Résumés should be easy to read quickly. You don’t want to stand out because you have 43 different indentions on one page. Nice, neat, simple and sweet!” — Misti G, medical field

5. Don’t forget to create a professional email account

“I really don’t like unprofessional email addresses like ‘kittycat69’ or ‘iluvjesus.’ I’ve seen these! It’s not hard to set up a professional email.” — Brooke N., media industry

“Unprofessional email addresses make me crazy. Just use your name! I can’t take you seriously otherwise.” — Emily M., veterinary field

“When you get to the point of sending out a professional email, maybe don’t have an unprofessional email address as your contact on your résumé — like hotmommalookenforagdtime […], for example (really).” — Andrea L., social work field

“True story: I threw away peanutbutterbutt (insert random numbers because there is more than one peanut butter butt@email address). I cannot stand unprofessional email addresses.” — Lindsey S., marketing field

6. Don’t pad your résumé with too much filler

“Empty words. Everyone is a ‘motivated leader’ or an ‘exceptional so-and-so’ these days. Use numbers. Use stats. Give me some concrete facts to go on about how you’ve moved the needle and contributed at your other jobs”. — Katie D., food and beverage industry

“Mainly, I dislike the generic goal statements full of empty buzzwords. They tell me nothing about a candidate other than that they can download a résumé template online. I appreciate honesty and a little personality, so including something that makes the person behind the paper stand out makes all the difference. Don’t get too personal, but be real.” — Emily M., veterinary field

7. Don’t pad your résumé too much period

“Don’t have a three-page résumé when you’ve been working for five years — you haven’t earned that much text yet!” — Lindsey S., marketing field

Two pages. No.” — Katie P., health and fitness field

8. Don’t leave inconsistent experience unexplained

“Job timelines that are extremely short — even though the candidate is well over 25 and should have established at least one stable job — make me question not only their commitment but whether or not they were fired early on. We would throw these out as soon as we got them when I was supervisor.” — Emma R., social work field

“Above grammar, jumping around of jobs. Big red flag!” — Erin P., home and design industry

“I look at length of employment with previous jobs and for gaps in employment. I don’t want to hire someone that is going to leave a few months after we invest in training them. If a gap in employment is related to raising family or some kind of event like that, that is fine. Some people just leave a gap when they don’t want to document multiple short-term positions or someone they left in bad graces.” — Crystal G., medical field

More: 5 Easy, Brilliant Ways to Refresh Your Résumé

9. Don’t use the wrong verb tense

“A really major one is verb tense — if you no longer work at a company, your job description should not be in the present tense!” — Dionne G., interior design industry

“I highly dislike improper use of tense.” —  Jennifer M., marketing field

10. Don’t be too casual

“I used to be the first in line to review résumés before they went to the director. The applicants were required to be certified teachers, and I could not believe the spelling and grammar mistakes! Also, I often came across résumés that used things like ‘lol’ and ‘ :).’ Those résumés never made it to the director’s desk.” — Melissa V., photography field

“Someone put ‘I wear many hats’ as a skill once, and we all laughed so hard we couldn’t take the rest seriously. Knew what she meant, just couldn’t stop picturing her trying on hats.” — Kelli W., media industry

11. Don’t submit something sloppy

“I cringe when I am handed dirty, folded résumés or if I print out a résumé and the formatting is unbelievably off.” — Dionne G., interior design industry

“We had someone lay their résumé on the bed (which was not even made), take pictures and send them in for review. Next.” — Katelyn J., home and design industry

More: 7 Salary-Negotiating Secrets Every Woman Needs to Know

12. Don’t neglect to give it a thorough read-through

“I saw a typo once that read, ‘I always give 10 percent for everything I do.’ Really? Wow. What a go-getter. That extra 0 would have made a world of difference.” — Kelli W., media industry

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