We’re often asked ‘what is wrong with my résumé?’ and ‘why aren’t I getting interviews?’


Here are some of the reasons why.


Know and understand these 5 resume mistakes to avoid them on your application documents.



It is important to ensure you have an understanding of who is reading your document when you create a new resume. Your CV needs to speak to the readers of your CV – all of whom take different things from it. Your resume has to be compelling, concise and easy to read for each of these audiences:

  • High volume / skim readers: such as recruiters who just glance over CVs to check that keywords and selection criteria are addressed.
  • Detailed readers: such as hiring managers and key decision makers who like to drill down into the finer detail of achievements, successes and value adding a candidate brings.

These ‘gatekeepers’ that you need to get through to increase your chances of being shortlisted and invited to interview. And getting through the gatekeepers is the most difficult part of job searching these days. (If you’ve not already taken a good read through the information on our website it may be helpful to do so to get more information about this and other issues.) With this in mind, it is critical to ensure that you always view the information contained in your CV through the eyes of a potential employer. Not only does the content need to specifically address the criteria of the advertiser, it also needs to be visually striking to stand out from the rest.



Most experts agree that applicant tracking systems (ATS) are flawed, but an increasing number of employers rely on them to screen resumes. Current estimates suggest 80% of employers use them, and almost EVERY recruitment agency. They save time (and money) by performing the initial screening of submitted resumes for a position. It’s not uncommon for some perfectly qualified candidates to be thrown out in this screening process, however, the argument remains that these systems give recruiters and hiring managers a better, more manageable starting point in what is always a lengthy, and very expensive process. ATS software programs extract information from your documents to assist in determining if you meet the key criteria for a position, and may determine if you document gets read by a human in the first instance. Will yours get through the software screening process?



Screen the job description thoroughly to identify keywords and phrases used by the employer, and then ensure you mirror those keywords and phrases in your document (ideally on the first page) to communicate that you are the ideal candidate for the role. Don’t use all the exact same words but certainly use some, and weave in others that have the same or similar meanings. The keyword section in your new CV is important for two reasons. It allows the human reader to look at what skills you are offering in one tight condensed area so that they can get an understanding of your value very quickly, and it also ensures that if a recruiter is conducting a keyword search on a database, that your document has a better chance of being identified. It can sometimes be helpful to re-arrange the position of keywords in your CV depending on what is most important to the recruiter or employer. What do you want them to see first? Because the human eye reads left to right, put those keywords that are most relevant or important to the position you are applying for on the few top lines of the columns, and also in the few last lines of the last column. Find out more about keywords here.



First impressions count for a lot. The front page of your CV is really valuable real estate and is the most important part of your CV as this dictates how readers frame you in their minds, make a mental classification as to your level, and importantly, decide whether to commit to reading on through the rest of your document. It’s like that adage that you have 30 seconds to make a great first impression, but with resume’s and CVs it’s often less. In fact, some say that recruiters spend a mere six seconds scanning a CV, and many never go beyond the first page unless their attention has been captured. This speaks volumes about the kind of impact your CV has to have in order to be asked to an interview, and why it is paramount that the CV is well designed, easy-to-read, clear and concise.

Look at your resume or CV through the eyes of a recruiter … the reader will generally have a stack of CVs in front of them, a time frame to get through all of them, and a ‘Yes’, pile, a ‘No’ pile and a ‘Maybe’ pile to sort them into. What makes a great CV is open to debate – everyone has a different idea on what works best, but there are a few fundamentals that will make yours rise above the rest, and it is critical that you get it right.



Tailoring your new resume for every job that you apply for is a must if you want to increase your chances of being invited to interview. Sending a generalised resume is what most job seekers do, with little or no success. Just as you would tailor a cover letter to suit the position, your CV should be laser focused to the job you’re applying for. Your CV is a career-marketing tool, and should be treated as such. Employers seek employees because they have a job that needs to be done or a problem that needs to be solved. How are you going to solve that problem for the employer? If you can demonstrate your strengths and achievements and align them with the role on offer and give specific examples, as well as higher-level responsibilities and value-added actions you created in your roles to date, an employer can quickly ascertain your suitability for a position. These ‘performance highlights, achievements or valued added statements, evidenced by examples, must go on the front page of your document.

(updated 2021)

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