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Resume contact details: surprising mistakes to avoid

Mark Daniel //  2 Comments
What could possibly go wrong with resume contact details? Actually, quite a lot. Check you aren’t making these mistakes so you don’t miss out on interviews.


If you are trying to write your resume, you are probably struggling with what to include, what to leave out, and how to make yourself stand out from your competition.

The one thing you are probably not worrying about are your contact details.

That’s the easiest bit, right? Just add and move on.

But, if you get this wrong, it won’t matter how great the rest of your resume is because recruiters and hiring managers either won’t be able to contact you or they will get put off by what you have done.

In this post, we are going to go through the top mistakes people make with their resume contact details and give you tips and advice on how to make sure you don’t get caught out.

Your Name

Yes, surprisingly, things can go wrong with this most basic thing.

No headers and footers

This is the number one mistake I see when it comes to resume contact details.

So many fancy resume templates use highly designed sections for adding contact details.

While this may look nice, it causes a huge problem because many ATS systems will not be able to pick up that information due to the design.

When an Applicant Tracking System can’t read your resume, it will display a message such as ‘Unable to parse – input manually.’

Of course you may get lucky and the recruiter or administrator might take the time to do this but, more often than not, they won’t.

That’s you rejected.

Not because of a lack of skills and experience but simply because of the template you chose.

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Don’t make it huge

Recruiters typically spend just a few seconds scanning a resume so the top half of the first page needs to make an impact.

Don’t waste this valuable space with your name in a huge font.

Worse still, don’t use an introduction page with just your name as many people do.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to get to your profile and work history quickly on that all important first page so make it clean, simple, and choose just a font that is just slightly larger than your paragraph text.

First & last only

You also don’t need to put all your middle names.

If your name is Benjamin Archibald Matthew Button, Benjamin Button will be just fine.

Using all your names again takes up valuable space and both humans and ATS just want a first name and a surname to be satisfied.

No qualifications or statements

Another problem occurs when people put their qualifications or a statement, after their name in the header of a resume.

Let me give you a real example of this.

Last week, I forwarded a resume I received by direct email to our admin team to enter on our database. 

Later that day, I wanted to access his details but couldn’t find him when I entered his name, John Jasons. 

I went back to his original email and immediately saw the problem.

He had written John Jasons  - Safety First.

I searched John First and there he was.

That is, our internal ATS saw his statement as part of his name and entered him in to our database with it.

As an HSE professional, I totally get that he wanted to express his passion for safety.

However, if I was a recruiter, would I have the time or interest to do this?

Maybe, but probably not.

Competition is fierce.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Your location

Some people leave this off because they want it to be private.

If that’s your reason, you don’t have to add your specific mailing address but do put your location.

Mostly I find the reason people leave this off their resume contact details is because they feel their location may go against them.

But here’s the thing.

Just as you are what you are, you are where you are.

If a recruiter needs you to live within a 50km radius of a certain company or project, they will find out at some point later on and still reject you.

Or, if you need to have full rights to work in a certain country, and you don’t, again you will not get the job anyway.

Leaving off your location prolongs the point of rejection, it doesn’t change the outcome.

Further, leaving off your location also means that recruiters and hiring managers will not know when you are in the perfect location for a role - something that would put you above your competition.

If there is a large response to a job advert, and you choose to be secretive about your location, there is a big chance that your application will not be progressed.

So it doesn’t matter what the reason is, it will always be wrong to leave your location off your resume contact details because both ATS and humans want and need this information.

Your phone number

Again, this can be surprisingly tricky too so here are a few important things to bear in mind.

Stick to just one number

Don’t put multiple contact numbers on your resume.

If you give just one number you don’t have to worry about missing messages from recruiters or HR on different phones.

People often put a complicated description of their shift patterns in cover letters, telling recruiters to only use a home phone on certain dates and things like that.

As with everything, if you truly are the best and/or only candidate for a position, recruiters and HR will persevere even if it is irritating to have problems getting through to you.

But how often are you really going to be in that position?

If your competition has one number that works straight away, will they have an edge over you?

Answer it yourself

Think about this.

Why do companies employ receptionists?

After all, most people are able to pick up a phone and say hello so why not just let anyone pick up the phone when it rings at work?

Well the reason is that companies want to make the best first impression when potential and actual customers contact them.

This first contact sets the tone.

Professional, warm and helpful - and the caller will feel positive.

Offhand, unhelpful and cold - makes the caller feel like hanging up and going elsewhere.

Remember something very important here … the caller judges the company on this first experience.

Nothing to do with innovative products, ideal solutions to their needs or a great team of customer focused workers.

So, why let others be your receptionist when you apply for jobs?

It could be your 2 year old at home, adorable to you, but irritating to recruiters in a hurry when they won’t pass the phone to an adult.

Or perhaps your spouse or partner that has been fielding endless calls for you and is getting a bit fed up and answers in a terse manner.

Or perhaps a shared house where your friends answer the phone in ‘party mode.’

Eliminate the possibility of all of these and more by just giving one mobile number that goes straight through to you, and you alone.

Choose appropriate voicemail

This is linked to point 2 but worthy enough to be out on its own

Your voicemail message says a lot about you, so think about this carefully.

If it is ‘funny’, others may not see it that way or even be offended.

If it is cold, you could be judged as difficult to get along with or negative.

If they can’t leave a spoken message and have to send a restricted text, well, that is just annoying.

Or perhaps you are using your favourite track instead, so when a recruiter calls they are blasted in the ear with music that they may hate?

First impressions make a huge difference.

If they are put off by what they hear, they may decide not to ring back or even not leave a message and just go onto the next candidate.

So, check out your message now to see how it sounds.

Is it a friendly, professional message that will be appropriate for your job search?

Would you recruit you?

If you have any doubts, record a new one now.

Your email address

So now we come to the email you use.

Simple hey?

Well, actually there a couple of things to bear in mind here too.

Don’t use your company email 

It is unprofessional to use your company’s resources to get a new job, others may see your confidential messages, and if you are off sick you could miss important opportunities.

Besides all these reasons, you are at work so you should be working.

Use Gmail or another provider to check messages on breaks and be professional.

Use an appropriate address

Talking of professional, if you have gone for a humorous option with your email such as bigfatharry,  or worse, this is the time to change it!

By all means keep your humorous one for family and friends but create a professional one for your job applications.

This may sound silly but if there is little to choose between you and another candidate for consideration for a position, little things like that could put potential employers off and give the job to your competition.

Your LinkedIn hyperlink

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile is a real asset when you are actively job seeking.

It’s also a smart thing to have when you are not looking because you could be headhunted for roles that aren’t even advertised.

How a complete LinkedIn profile gets you 40x more attention

perfect your profile with this guide

However, you need to make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profile are in harmony.

You don’t want to set off warning bells in recruiters heads about why they both look completely different and have a mismatch of information.

If you follow these steps, you will have a clear, professional contact section that both humans and computers will be able to understand and access when required.

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About the Author

A global resume writer and career coach, Mark is known for his honest, direct, and hard-hitting advice, helping people manage job applications and succeed at interviews. Now based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, he is the co-founder of Real Life Career Advice and a prolific publisher, contributing to several industry magazines and his daily career advice blog to his 45,000 LinkedIn followers.

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