Five Tiny Resume Flaws You Can’t Afford to Make

These often overlooked mistakes will make you seem careless.

Even though the words “detail-oriented” have no business appearing on your resume, you should still be able to demonstrate it through quantifiable accomplishments and examples.

If you’re a seasoned resume tweaker, you know how to spin duties as otherworldly achievements. You even know how to elaborate on your transferable skills in a way that doesn’t resemble an antique auction (Fast learner! Team player! Sold!).

Yet, even with all your real-life expertise and resume knowhow, you may be saying more about your true work habits without using many words at all. How is this possible? It’s all in the details, of course.

The Dish on Dashes

Plenty of people use hyphens on a regular basis, but when it comes to en and em dashes, they’re clueless. The distinction between the two is important because a hiring manager probably does know the difference. Writing that you’ve “managed a team of 5-10 people” may seem okay to you, but an en dash ( – ) is what you should actually be using for all date ranges or time spans.

Hint: If you could substitute words like “through” or “to,” you should be using an en dash. Microsoft Word, for example, automatically creates this mark if you type a space before and after the hyphen, but make sure to delete these after the mark appears. “Managed a team of 5–10 marketing interns” is what you want.

To Punctuate, or Not to Punctuate?

There is some debate on whether or not bullet points should end in a period. However, the general consensus recommends including a period if you’ve phrased all your achievements as complete sentences. If not, it’s okay to opt out of the dot.

Read Between the Lines

When you’re proofreading, make sure you check the margin sizes and spaces between each line of text. Your margins should be at least 1” on all sides to avoid taking your name from “Ian” to “An” in a matter of seconds. (This is another reason why it’s a good idea to save your resume as a PDF.)

Whether you choose to single space your bulleted lines or give them room to breathe, make sure you apply the formatting to the entire section. It’s easy to overlook when you’ve zoomed in 200% to catch typos, but it’s sure to stand out when printed or viewed on the fly.

To check this in Microsoft Word, select the “Alignment” and “Spacing” tab in the Toolbox. Check if you have selected an option next to Line Spacing. You should also check the before and after “Paragraph Spacing”, since spaces between categories and individual positions should be consistent throughout.

What’s in a Name?

This seems like a smack-yourself-on-the-forehead flaw, but you’re more likely to type these sections faster than when you are carefully ambling over your professional summary. It’s also common for people to overlook their name and contact information when proofreading.

Aside from including a professional email address, you should also use one that isn’t too hard to type. If your name is Claire McDonald, selecting “mcdonacm” could play a few tricks on someone trying to send you a message: they see the first three letters and type your whole last name, or they leave a letter out completely. There’s no reason to miss out on an interview or job offer over something you can correct in 3 seconds.

Consistency Takes the Pudding

In this case, the pudding is the interview. Itty-bitty mistakes could be one thing that bumps you into second place, and the most noticeable one of all is being inconsistent. Interchanging dashes with hyphens communicates that while you do know the difference between the two, you haven’t taken the time to apply your knowledge to a one-page document.

Likewise, a period at the end of only one bullet point sticks out like a non-detail-oriented thumb. Even if you have a rogue fragment thrown in the complete sentence club, it’s best to end it with a period for the sake of consistency.

When it comes to your name, stick to one version. Let’s say you go by Billy, but your cover letter is signed as William and your email name starts with Billy. In this case, you’re taking attention away from your qualifications by giving the employer two additional names to associate with your application. You have enough competition as it is, so stick to one title.