Resume Mistake No. 1
Resume Not Search Friendly
1. Missing keywords: Include search keywords that are relevant to your target job description. This is important as good
keywords will bring up your profile when head hunters use 'search' feature to shortlist resumes.
2. Sub-optimal online profile: Many hiring managers screen profiles of prospective candidates on LinkedIn and other job
portals. Pay adequate attention to the articulation of your online profile and keep it up to date.
3. Non-standard format: Do not use abbreviations that are non industry standard or difficult to understand. Include
common job titles, skills, academic degree qualifications and acronyms. Send your resume in electronic format like pdf,
word, txt or html or as asked by the company. Stick to resume formatting norms (see below) as complex formatted
resumes usually don't get scanned or are rejected by automated search/software applications.
Resume Mistake No. 2
Improper Resume Structure
1. Not prioritizing key points: Good companies get thousands of resumes every day. Most resumes are rejected
within 15 seconds of an initial human screening, so highlight the most relevant points in a structured manner.
Employers may also gauge your ability to organize information from your resume.
2. Unstructured resume: Recommended order of sections in a resume is as follows:
a. Name, Contact phone numbers and Email at the top.
b. Profile Summary.
c. Education/Awards Summary (include any major certifications/awards).
d. Skills Summary.
e. Employment Experience (In reverse chronological order with recent job stints first).
3. Inconsistent verbiage: Use 'present tense' to describe your current job & 'past tense' for historic ones. Use a good
printer & nice white A4 size paper for printing hard copies. Show CV to your trusted friends/relatives & seek feedback.
Resume Mistake No. 3
1. Not easily readable: Some resumes look like text book clones with heavy paragraphs & lengthy explanations that
puts off many hiring people. Use asterix(*) or hyphen(-) for bullet points within each section/job and do not use
paragraphs. Keep all text aligned to the left and use 'spaces' to indent but no 'Tabs'.
2. Too many fonts: Use 1 readable font consistently across your resume. Do not use italics or different text colours. 'Arial'
or 'Times New Roman' with text size 10 are recommended fonts. Distribute even amount of space between headings.
3. Lengthy: Giving titles like 'Curriculum Vitae', 'Resume' or mentioning 'References available on request' is not needed.
Prospective hiring people reading resumes intuitively know that. Elaborate most of your points in a line or two only. For
a fresh college grad, 1 page resume is enough & upto 2 pages is recommended for senior/experienced professionals.
Resume Mistake No. 4
Missing Employment Months
1. Missing job tenures: Clearly mention the specific 'From' & 'To' month/year for each of your job stints along with
associated job title. The Timeline tenures should be 'aligned' vertically down the page.
2. Frequent job hopping: Having too many job stints of less than 2 years reflects negatively on your resume. Do spend
some credible time in companies to highlight commitment & stability.
3. False information: Mention true facts & never fudge information to fill in employment gaps as they usually get caught
in 'background checks' that many companies perform while hiring candidates.
Resume Mistake No. 5
1. Generic statements: Don't make general accomplishment statements. Be objective, explain 'your' accomplishments &
business results... preferably using numbers that highlight the impact of your services or substantiate your claims.
2. Unaware of details: Make sure to include only those accomplishment points that you can elaborate on by giving
'objective' & clear explanation if asked during the interviews.
3. Emphasis on past jobs: If you have more than 15 years of experience, its not necessary to include details about each &
every job stint. Elaborate more on your recent roles & gradually taper information on last 15 years of your work history.
Resume Mistake No. 6
Missing or Misaligned Skills
1. Emphasis on projects: Most people write project details which does not convey their value proposition. Instead,
focus on highlighting your skills relevant to the job description.
2. Mismatched skills/degrees: Hunt for job descriptions that align with your skill set. Highlight succinctly those skills that
will help your potential employer in improving Efficiency, Productivity & Profitability. Eg: Computer Science, Finance or
Marketing degrees/knowledge helps if you are targeting big tech companies.
3. Putting expected points: Mentioning 'Team player' or 'Trusted' is not of much help. These are basic expected core
values. Highlight only those extra-curricular activities that clearly demonstrate your leadership & people management
skills. University grads must try for internships (even for free) from 1st year itself & mention briefly the value/impact
their services had on the organization.
Resume Mistake No. 7
Irrelevant or Outdated Information
1. Irrelevant details: Do not give personal details like father's name, gender, marital status, weight, height etc. Never
use hand pointers, smiley icons or pictures. Do not include your photograph unless you are applying for a modelling
position. Avoid use of 'I', 'My', 'Me' in your resume. Don't mention your age unless it is relevant to the job/role.
2. Clichéd 'Objective' Statement: Most career aspirational objective statements look more or less the same & are usually
ignored by hiring people. Its better to avoid putting a boring statement. Instead, target a specific role & highlight
how you can add value to prospective employers.
3. Outdated: Update your profile at least once a year. If you are hunting aggressively, upload/refresh your resume every
6 months & do not upload too frequently especially when interacting with senior level executive head hunters.
Resume Mistake No. 8
Improper Contact Details
1. Incorrect phone references: Some resumes have phone number(s) without specifying whether it is a landline or a
mobile number, which is not good as hiring people may get confused when to call. Mention 2 'current' contact numbers
clearly mentioning land/cell number.
2. Not reachable: Many times, hiring team members try calling contact numbers which are always 'busy' or 'unreachable'.
No point in sending resumes out and missing a call from a potential employer. If giving home number, tell other family
members how to handle such calls.
3. Jazzy email id: Giving vague email id (like 'email@example.com') is unprofessional. Put a decent, appropriate
email id on your profile & respond within 24 hours to any queries.
Resume Mistake No. 9
Errors and Biased Self Screening
1. Spelling errors: Having even 1 spelling mistake conveys 'lack of attention to detail'. Run a spell check but don't just
rely 100% on it. After completing the draft, screen your resume after a couple of days gap. Chances are you
will end up modifying it again.
2. Grammatical issues: Some grammatical errors may not be caught by even a spell check software. Getting your
resume reviewed by a professional or a person with a credible background in a similar profession is always helpful.
3. Not screening as an employer: Remember, good companies get 1000's of resumes for each job description & a slight
resume error is enough to get rejected. Finally, read your cover letter/resume as if you are the prospective employer.
If you shortlist it, great... if not, rephrase the sentences.
Resume Mistake No. 10
Missing or Improper Cover Letter
1. Vague/Missing cover letter: The objective of the cover letter is to highlight few attributes from your profile that the
potential employer might be looking for, generate interest and lead the reader to review your resume in detail.
Customize it to fit your target job description.
2. Impersonal: Having 'To Whom So Ever It May Concern' or 'Dear Sir/Madam' or 'Gentlemen/Ladies' is bad. Address
the letter to a specific named individual. Have a neat, concise, grammatically correct 1 page cover letter and clearly
mention how can a prospective employer reach you. Sign hard copies preferably in blue or black ink only.
3. Lengthy/Photocopy: Ideally, the cover letter body text should be approx 250 words only with no more than 3
paragraphs. Do not send photocopies but only original cover letter/resume. For experienced positions, if possible, don't
send your resume to just the HR head but also to some prospective bosses in companies where seeking employment.
Interview Mistake No. 1
1. No prior research: At least visit company's website & understand what kind of products/services the company offers.
This conveys your proactiveness & desire to be part of the organization. Also, be clear about what kind of role you are
being interviewed for. When asked... 'Tell me something about yourself', don't get too personal about family/hobbies
but highlight your skills/credentials.
2. Not studying the sector: Catch up on recent news related to company & study the domain/sector (company is in) as
a whole. If you are aware of the interviewer's name, Google them & study their profiles/thoughts. Review your resume
& be prepared to elaborate any point or answer common interview questions.
3. Casual approach: Do carry couple copies of your resume. Don't be in your shell. Strike a conversation- with people
around you - even when you are waiting for your interview turn.
Interview Mistake No. 2
Improper Attire and Body Language
1. Incorrect posture: When standing, stand erect. Ensure well groomed hair, trimmed nails, no dirty shoes & do not wear
flashy colours like red/purple etc. Dress business casuals or formals only, no jeans or slippers! Dress smartly as you
would when working in that company. Ensure no bad body odour by wearing a good antiperspirant.
2. Mixed body language: 'Shaking your legs' or 'minimalistic eye contact' are signs of lack of confidence. Sit in a relaxed
but attentive (no slouching) posture with lightly clasped hands, parallel legs. Judiciously, lean slightly forward few times
to convey interest and have a direct but not intimidating eye contact.
3. Not being yourself: Don't imitate anyone or copy the interviewer's body language. Your body language should indirectly
convey that you are interested in the prospective job. Be happy, share your enthusiasm and have an energetic persona.
Treat everyone you meet with respect.
Interview Mistake No. 3
Nervousness, Bad Timing and First Impression
1. Late or too early: Arrive approx 10 mins before the interview starts. Please don't give parking/traffic excuses. If you
will be late or cannot make it due to a legitimate reason, call/notify in advance & request for rescheduling the interview
if possible. Also, bringing your parent/spouse- without a reason - usually conveys dependence & lack of maturity.
2. Not overcoming nervousness: Do not get intimidated by the interviewers. They are humans like us and at one stage
were also looking for a job themselves. Worst case scenario is 'You will not get selected', but that is not the end of the
world. Chances are you will soon get some other job. Take a few deep breadths just before the interview, relax &
stop being nervous.
3. Poor handshake: Offering 'just fingers/limp' handshake or too strong handshake is bad as it respectively conveys lack
of confidence & aggression. Go for '3 second' rule: Full handshake upto 3 seconds and greet with a genuine smile.
Interview Mistake No. 4
Improper Conversation and Mindset
1. Irritating distractions: Put your cell phone on quiet mode and check messages later. Do not tell jokes as they are
usually not contextually relevant & might offend someone. What might be hilarious to you may appear silly to others.
2. One sided conversation: Don't make it a 1-sided talk from your side but have a balanced 2-way conversation. Be
attentive & 'listen' well. Never interrupt the interviewer. While listening, smile & nod at opportune moments.
3. Self centered mindset: Do not go to any interview with a mindset of 'What's in it for me?'. Instead, study the job
description well, pursue the opportunity with the right 'attitude', focus on the company/role & suggest ideas that
can help solve some problems of your potential employer.
Interview Mistake No. 5
Eager To Know Compensation and Benefits
1. Focusing on salary: Never ask 'What salary/benefits will I get?' in the first 3 interview rounds or unless the interviewer
brings it up. Do your research and avoid taking interviews for roles that have substantially less salaries compared to
your expectations. Convince the interviewers and leave it to them to discuss expected salary details.
2. Money inclined: Conveying salary as your primary motivating or decision making factor usually shuts the door to any
credible opportunity. Benefits are important discussion points but at a stage when the company has decided to hire you.
3. Incorrect salary range references: When asked about salary expectations, don't just go into your last salary details
unless specifically asked. Mention a range based on your research related to salary ranges prevalent in the market for
the role being interviewed.
Interview Mistake No. 6
1. Crammed answers: 'Tell me something about yourself', 'What's your strengths/weaknesses?', 'Why do you want to
leave your current job?' etc are expected questions. Rehearse, be prepared with your answers but don't rattle crammed
or scripted sentences. Give meaningful answers in an easy, conversational tone.
2. Vague answers: Having no unique skillset sometimes leads to lack of confidence. Remember, there are numerous
examples of successful people who had no academic degrees or had average qualifications. So do not berate yourself
or have any complex. Give examples of your past achievements to substantiate how can you add value.
3. Unrealistic answers: When asked about weaknesses, never say 'I have none'. Everyone has areas of growth. Give one
that is relevant & what you are doing to overcome that weakness. Similarly, never say 'I have not failed even once'
when asked about your failures.
Interview Mistake No. 7
Being A Generalist and Boring Conversation
1. Generalist profile: Generalists are usually available in huge numbers and probability of getting an excellent job is
relatively low. Be different and refrain from giving 'expected' answers. Create opportunities by suggesting a brilliant
idea to potential employers. Ideally, imbibe skills which are more in demand than the supply (of people).
2. Arrogance: Be confident but do not cross the boundary towards being arrogant. Never demean the interviewer,
howsoever younger he or she may be compared to you and never lie.
3. Not sharing stories: Connect your skills to the expected job profile and convey past results in the form of short stories
highlighting your accomplishments. Boring conversations end soon & its upto you to make your interview interesting.
Interview Mistake No. 8
Lack of Clarity and Being a Perfectionist
1. No clarity on desired role: Don't give statements like 'Am looking for a management or technical job' or 'Can do
anything' or 'Want to join a big company'. Apply your mind and think. Highlight what you are best qualified to do &
focus your efforts around those points. You need to give consistent and specific points relevant to the job profile.
2. Over confidence: One is not expected to know everything. If you don't know the answer to any question, admit
that & say 'I don't know but here is how I can get the answer if given some time'. Don't be a perfectionist.
3. Lack of speech clarity: Answering too quick without thinking usually hinders creative thoughts. Speak 'clearly' without
speaking too fast. Interviewer asking you to repeat should be taken as a signal to slow down your pace of articulation.
Interview Mistake No. 9
1. Negative statements: Bad mouthing former company/people is a big turnoff. Never say negative things about your
former employer or employees.
2. Fingerpointing: Even if there were some unethical scenarios in your previous company, mention indirectly the
cause and not the people. Finger pointing never reflects positively in any conversation.
3. Attitude: Must exude positive attitude, respond positively to any criticism, exude high enthusiasm & your ability to
work in a team environment. Have your 30-sec elevator pitch ready & share it with relevant people.
Interview Mistake No. 10
Bad Questions and Ending
1. Not clear what questions to ask: Don't start interviewing the interviewer! Ask about 3 or 4 short but intelligent
questions towards the end of the interview.
2. Ending on low note: 'What are the chances of getting hired?' or 'What will be my expected salary?' are inappropriate
questions to ask at this stage. Do ask for next steps, kind of role(s) you might be evaluated for and an estimated
time for making a decision.
3. Abrupt ending: If you feel that the job profile/role is not meeting your expectation, gradually end the interview on
a polite note without being abrupt.
Job Hunting Mistake No. 1
Unplanned Reach Out
1. Mass mailers: Most people do a mass emailing of their resumes to head hunters or post them on numerous online
job portals and then 'hope' to get a call. This rarely works. For a good role, companies usually have a hiring success
rate of less than 3% of resumes they receive. If you are exploring different job descriptions, have 2 or 3 different
resume versions and align them to job roles.
2. Tapping few job sources: Explore online job portals, network of friends, head hunters, newspapers, job fairs, temp
agencies, business magazines, college/alumni group emails. Majority of good senior level positions- especially in good
companies- are not advertised or published anywhere. These are managed by global 'Executive Search' companies.
3. No job hunt plan: Work out a plan, execute aggressively & keep a record of your job hunting activities. The plan should
also guide what you need to do on a weekly basis. Research the industry, prepare a list of about 50 companies that
might hire people with your kind of profiles & target job positions. Based on your profile/urgency, you should try fixing
at least 2 meetings every week with prospective employers or people who can guide/inspire/assist you in your job
Job Hunting Mistake No. 2
Self Centered or Dull Persona
1. I/Me vs. company: Many candidates communicate majority of their points centred around themselves. Remember,
a good job hunt is not so much about 'you' but how can you add value to the potential 'employer'.
2. Dull vibes: Employers like people who are fun to work with and deliver results. So do not send dull personality signals.
Ensure that the conversation is not one sided but an interesting one that holds the other person's attention.
3. Not sharing articles: Towards the end of the interview, just hand over your relevant published articles (if any) to the
interviewers without going into the details. Let those articles convey your positives indirectly instead of blowing your
own trumpet too much.
Job Hunting Mistake No. 3
Not Learning Continuously
1. Not evolving existing skills: Most people usually have some scope of improvement in either verbal, written,
presentation or listening aspects of their communication skills. Work continuously towards growing these skills as
they are mandatory requirements for most jobs.
2. Unaware of skill growth avenues: Explore avenues for improving your skills. Eg: For communication skills, watching
'English movies', attending communication skills courses, reading business newspapers/magazines are potential
sources. If committed & aggressive, you will be surprised by the progress you can achieve even in just 6 months.
3. Fear of imbibing new skills: Attend courses, write articles & work hard towards imbibing new skills. Be open to
embracing new skills whose demand is expected to grow in future. Many fresh college grads focus on just joining
a 'big' company without being aware of what they would be doing there. Instead, they should strive hard to
understand & get into a role which maximizes their learning especially during the first 5 years of their career.
Job Hunting Mistake No. 4
Not Networking Regularly
1. Discreet networking: Most people reach out to their network of close business acquaintances only when they need a
favour... which rarely works. Build a list of about 25 key personnel in your network and connect with at least 4 of them
every month. This will ensure you are in touch with them on a regular basis every year.
2. Just social messaging: Networking is not just sending a facebook or linkedIn message to people in your network.
Send articles of mutual interest, give them a phone call, catch up in person over a cup of tea or lunch. Try building
a long lasting, mutually beneficial network of friends & don't disconnect 'after' you get a job. Also, refrain from
reaching out to unknown/prospective employers on their personal facebook profiles.
3. Mismatched references: Select your references prudently before the scheduled interviews... preferably current or past
co-workers who know you well. Do not give the names of potential employer's competitor as a reference.
Job Hunting Mistake No. 5
No Follow Up
1. Delayed follow up: Email or send a concise, personalized email/note thanking the interviewers within 24 to 48 hours
of the interview and revert on any next step/question that spawned from your interview. Reinforce your skills, your
fitment to the potential job description. Avoid a pleading tone and don't convey desperation.
2. No calls: May make 1 phone call after a few days but do not harass companies by calling them multiple times or
sending them a gift that may be construed as a bribe.
3. Dropping guard: Many candidates show signs of laxity when they are hovering around the waiting area after the
interview is over. Keep in mind that you may be observed by other employees around you. Sometimes companies take
feedback not just from the interviewers, but from people who have secondary level casual conversation with the
candidates. Key point is to present your best foot forward at all times. Also, never assume or tell others prematurely
that you will get the job for sure... it's yours only after you have a contract in hand. All the best!