Top Mistakes Remote Job Seekers Make on Their Resumes

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fizkes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

It turns out that a whole lot of people who got a taste of remote work during the pandemic have no intention of going back to the office without a fight. A recent study from FlexJobs found that a full 65% of employees now want to work from home full time while the other third prefer a hybrid schedule. Nearly three out of five were ready to quit immediately if working from home was no longer an option post-pandemic.

Read: Companies That Let You Work From Anywhere
See: When These Big Companies Are Planning To Return To the Office

In short, if you’re looking for a job that lets you work from wherever, get in line — openings for remote positions are attracting a whole lot of resumes. If yours is one of them, keep reading to learn about the biggest mistakes you definitely want to avoid straight from the career coaches at FlexJobs.

Last updated: July 29, 2021

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Failing To Format for Ruthless Robots

According to CNBC, virtually all the big companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS), which weed out 75% of resumes as rejects before a human ever even sees them. You can outfox the machines by formatting your resume so it doesn’t get tossed for the wrong reasons right out of the gate.

Find Out: Is Your Resume Up To Par With the Competition?

According to FlexJobs, ATS can’t pick up information in footers and headers. Your contact info should instead appear at the top of page one and include your: 

  • City
  • State
  • Zip code
  • Email address
  • Phone number

Since no one prints resumes today, there’s no need to include your contact info on page two, but if you must, add a header only to that page.

Avoid: Top Resume Mistakes That Hold Job-Seekers Back

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Sending Out the Same Boilerplate Resume to Every Job

No one likes doing extra work just to find work, but you simply must customize every single resume you submit, particularly in the “professional summary” and “key skills” sections. That’s because those same bots that lose information in headers and footers are looking for specific keywords on your resume. If they don’t find enough of them, it won’t take long for the ATS to do what it was designed to do — bye-bye, resume. 

Job postings list preferred skills and requirements. It’s up to you to work those requirements and skills into your resume as keywords. They’re different for each job posting, so each and every resume has to be customized using the exact same terminology and phrases found in the corresponding job post.

Tips: How To Craft the Perfect Resume, According To Recruiters

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Getting in Your Own Way With Excessive Formatting

The third step to prevent bots from banishing your resume is to keep things simple when it comes to formatting. That means avoiding all elements that ATS have trouble scanning. According to the career coaches at FlexJobs, that includes: 

  • Text boxes
  • Tables
  • Uncommon fonts
  • Uncommon bullet points
  • Margins smaller than 0.5 inches
  • Charts
  • Graphs
  • Columns
  • Images
  • Graphics

Advice: 10 Small Changes To Stay on Track With Your Career Goals

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Failing To Shine a Light on Remote Work Experience

Now that you’ve done your best to survive the ATS gauntlet, remember why you’re here. When on the hunt for a remote job, you’re going to want to highlight your past remote work experience right up front. You can keep your resume in the good pile simply by adding “remote” or “partial remote” next to your location or job title. According to FlexJobs, however, you can get more specific if you choose by adding the percentage of time you worked remotely if you were hybrid, or the start and end dates if you were remote temporarily during the pandemic.

Research: 40 Legit Companies That Will Pay You To Work From Home

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Omitting Any Remote Experience, Professional or Otherwise

If you did it remotely, it should be on your resume, even if it seems like it has nothing to do with the kind of work you’re applying for. That includes classes you took remotely, training courses you took or taught and meetings or team collaborations you took part in through a laptop or phone screen. 

Between that and any actual employer-based remote work you’ve done, you might have enough to fill out an entirely new section on your resume. If you can fill it out, a separate section designed only to showcase your remote work/life history and qualifications can be a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Counterpoint: Major Companies May Cut Salaries for Remote Workers

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Presenting Achievements Earned as Tasks Completed

FlexJobs recommends taking the STAR method, which you’ve probably heard of as an interview strategy, and applying it to your resume. STAR stands for “situation, task, action, result” — and it’s a great way to frame your resume. Instead of listing things you did as assignments completed, present your accomplishments as exactly that — achievements worth mentioning on a resume. 

Get a Raise: How To Boost Your Chances for a Top-Paying Remote Role

The FlexJobs career coaching team suggests using bullets to describe your impact on each company you worked for by answering questions like: 

  • What improvements came as the result of my work? 
  • Who did my work help? 
  • What goals did I achieve?
  • How did the company benefit from my time there?

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