top of page

5 Resume Formatting Mistakes That Stop Most People From Landing The Job

Poor resume formatting is often the nail in the coffin for an applicant who might have had a chance at an interview.

It doesn’t matter how skilled you are or how perfect you feel you may be for the role; a poorly formatted essay leaves a bad first impression that leads to most recruiters tossing the resume into the trash. If you don’t believe that, consider this statistic – hiring managers will spend an average of six to seven seconds reviewing your resume.

That’s how long you have to impress them enough to get them to read further. And if you want to make the most of that very limited time, you need to eradicate the following formatting mistakes from your resume today.

Mistake 1 – Spelling and Grammar Issues

Your resume is supposed to be a document you’ve pored over to get it absolutely right. At least, that’s how many recruiters view it. So, any spelling or grammar mistakes can doom your chances of getting a job before you’ve gotten out of the starting blocks.

purple background photo with man holding hands out to say stop with words "Resume Formatting Mistakes To Avoid"

That’s not just conjecture.

It’s a scientifically proven fact. In a 2023 study published in the PLoS One journal, researchers sent resumes containing spelling mistakes to various potential employers, along with error-free resumes. They found that a candidate who submits an essay containing even one mistake has an 18.5% lower chance of getting an interview than a candidate with an error-free resume.

The message is simple: the basics matter.

Getting rid of spelling and grammar issues showcases your attention to detail, which could be a deciding factor in whether or not you get an interview.

Mistake 2 – Inappropriate Fonts

Have you heard about the hatred that many have for the Comic Sans font?

In 2014, the U.K.-based global opinion compiler YouGov ran a survey asking people whether they liked or disliked this commonly-used font. It found that 34% of people aged over 25 in London landed firmly in the dislike category.

It was a fun little study, but it also clues you into something related to your resume formatting – the font matters.

A resume is a professional document, and it should be treated as such. If you’ve written it in a “fun” font – like Comic Sans – your simple formatting mistake could give the impression that you don’t take the job seriously. Recruiters don’t like that. So, stick to more widely accepted professional fonts, such as Calibri or Helvetica.

Purple background color with the word saying "best fonts to use on your resume"

Mistake 3 – Long Paragraphs With No White Space

Have you ever tried to read an article where the author clearly hasn’t heard of the concept of paragraphs? You’re forced to wade through line after line of text, with no breaks, leaving you feeling exhausted.

That’s how a hiring manager will feel if your resume is laden with overly long passages.

The resume is supposed to be a summary of your skills, giving the hiring manager a good idea of what you bring to the table while leaving room for questions in an interview. So, make sure you don’t make the mistake of omitting white space.

Keep paragraphs short – a maximum of three lines is a good rule of thumb – and make use of bullet points for sections where you have a lot to say about yourself but need to do it briefly. The idea is to make the resume scannable to help with that all-important first impression.

Mistake 4 – Inconsistency in Font Choice or Size

Varying the fonts you use can be as damaging as choosing the wrong font for your resume.

Still, there’s a certain logic to altering sizes and font types. For instance, you might use a larger font for a heading or change up your font choice for each section of your resume. But in both cases, you’re really just creating a more chaotic document for a recruiter to have to navigate.


picture of a resume with 9 bullet points of most common mistakes to avoid in a resume

The human eye is drawn to anything that seems unusual. Your varying font styles grab attention. If most of the resume is in Calibri font size 11, a section that’s suddenly in Arial font size 12 will stand out, and not in a good way.

Consistency is key.

Keep your font size and style the same throughout while using bolding and italics to make specific sections stand out.

Mistake 5 – Irregular Date Formats

Let’s assume you’re writing your work history using the dates for which you worked in each role as your ordering mechanism. That’s fine. Starting with the most recent role and going down from there is standard practice in resume writing.

However, you’ve used irregular date formats so that your list of work history looks something like this:

Feb 2022 – November 2023: Job A

07/04/21 to 02/05/22: Job B

Both are technically correct. But when used together, they’re mismatched date formats that suggest you don’t pay much attention to the little details. It’s those little things that matter most when you’re getting stacked up against a candidate with similar experience and skills.

As a general rule, stick to the “Month-Day” format. It’s easier to read and helps you to stay uniform with your dates throughout.

The Little Things Matter

In a competition between two equally skilled applicants, it’s always the little things that will catch the eye of a hiring manager. That’s where formatting comes in – one of these seemingly small mistakes on your resume could destroy your chances of landing your dream job


Don’t let that happen.

With over 35 years of history in Denver Colorado, Expert Resume Pros delivers a team of professional resume editors who know exactly how to construct your resume so that it showcases what makes you special. Get in touch today – we guarantee that you’ll land an interview in 45 days, or you will get your money back.

10 views0 comments


bottom of page