First impressions matter, whether you’re meeting someone in person or sending out your resume. Including essential elements on your website such as the About page or adding a blog is a step in the right direction, as well as finding ways to make it more interesting by adding interactivity.
But, there are some common mistakes that many people make when it comes to their resume website. Including too much information, grammar mistakes, or a visually busy website are just some of the mistakes that can put off a potential employer.
Even though those mistakes might not be obvious at first glance, they can have a much bigger impact on your career than you think. In fact, if you make any of those seemingly irrelevant errors, potential employers will be more likely to hit the back button and move on to the next candidate.
And that’s not what we want here. If you’re building a personal resume website, your ultimate goal is to get hired. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your site is error-free and presents you in the best possible light.
10 Common Resume Website Mistakes And How to Avoid Them
In today’s post, we’ll discuss the most common resume website mistakes so you can avoid them on your personal website.
1. Typos and Grammatical Errors
While typos can happen to anyone, there shouldn’t be any on your resume website. The same applies to grammatical errors. It makes you look unprofessional and gives the impression you couldn’t be bothered to proofread the text.
Try reading each page on your website out loud—you’d be surprised how many mistakes you can catch as you hear the words. Another trick you can try is to read the content backwards. Reading backwards requires extra focus which means you’ll be more likely to catch any errors.
If grammar is your weak point, ask a friend to proofread your content before you start marketing it. There are also online grammar checkers such as Grammarly which will help you correct the most common spelling and grammar mistakes for free.
2. Visually Busy Layout
The most common recommendation you hear is to make your paper resume no longer than one page. It’s easy to give in to the temptation and try to apply this rule to your website. But, doing so will result in a visually busy layout and make your website appear cluttered and hard to digest.
The beauty of a resume website is that you have much more room to play with. Even if you decide to use a one-page template, you still have more space available than a standard sheet of paper.
Use this to your advantage and make whitespace work for you. Leave room between different sections of your resume and between individual elements such as portfolio items. Consider choosing a timeline layout or using different pages to highlight your education and experience.
Gary Sheng certainly doesn’t lack experience but he leaves just the right amount of whitespace around each item on the list that the layout isn’t overwhelming:
3. Poor Image Quality or Unprofessional Photos
Whether you’re including screenshots or photos of your past work, make sure they don’t appear blurry or so small that visitors can't see what the photo or image is actually about. At the same time, you want to make sure that you don't upload images that are too big for the web, causing your entire website to load slowly.
As a general rule of thumb, use the JPEG format for any photographic image (portraits, professional headshots, photos of you, physical products on display, etc.) and use the PNG format to showcase screenshots of your work if they require transparency (illustrations, logos, images with blocks of color or special effects like drop shadows).
In a similar fashion, avoid using a photo of you from your last birthday party as your professional headshot. If you can’t afford a professional shoot, you can ask a friend to take a photo of you against a neutral background, which you can then use on your website.
You can also get creative and choose a unique photo that shows your personality, similar to Raf Derolez who even extends this to his social media profiles, thus strengthening his personal brand:
4. Omitting Important Information For the Sake of Brevity
If you belong to the camp of those with several years of experience, it’s easy to fall into the trap of omitting some of your experience for the sake of including only the most important information.
But, bear in mind that your resume website does not have to be as short. Your personal site is the best place to include more details and highlight all your major accomplishments.
Similarly, if you don’t have a lot of work experience but you have volunteer experience or internships that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, feel free to include them on top of any relevant jobs. Touch on all your highlights and feel free to be more detailed on your personal website.
Brandon Johnson’s website is a great example of including extra information with links to his published works which add to his credibility:
5. Including Too Much Information
Closely related to the previous mistake is the mistake of including too much information. While this is your personal website and it's important to include any relevant professional highlights, that doesn’t mean you need to list your favorite color, how you take your coffee, and the name of your first pet.
Keep personal information relevant to your expertise, highlighting qualities and personal experiences that can be applied in your desired position.
Another thing to keep in mind is your past projects. As much as you might be tempted to include every single project, don’t. Reserve the portfolio space only for your best work and let it speak for itself. There is no need for potential employers to see how your skills evolved over time. What matters is what you can do now.
Melanie Daveid puts the concept of “less is more” to work for her by including only three samples of her work:
6. Using an Unresponsive Theme
With the rise of mobile technology, it would be foolish to expect potential employers will only visit your website from laptops or desktop computers. Keeping your website responsive is crucial to ensure anyone who visits your website from a mobile device can still see all the content and find the information they are looking for.
An unresponsive website can and will hinder your prospects as nobody wants to spend time trying to zoom in and scroll in all possible directions to find out why you should be the person they hire.
If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of responsive resume themes that will ensure a smooth user experience across a variety of devices, or browse through our showcase:
And if you’re using an HTML template, you will find there is no lack of beautiful and responsive templates that will take your resume to the next level, like this professional example:
We curate a number of the best ones available on ThemeForest in this article as well: 15 Best HTML Resume Templates for Awesome Personal Sites.
7. No Contact Information
Forgetting to include your contact information entirely defeats the purpose of a personal resume website. After all, you want potential employers and recruiters to get in touch with you, whether to ask for more information or to schedule an interview.
Aside from including your phone number and your email address, consider adding your physical address if you’re applying locally. You can also add a link to your most active social media profile such as LinkedIn or Twitter, where people can get in touch with you without jumping through hoops.
Make the information easy to find. If you’re not comfortable leaving your contact information on your website where anyone can find it, consider adding a contact form so visitors can send you a message directly from your personal website.
Be sure to keep this information regularly updated, especially if you change your phone number or if you move. The last thing you want is for your dream employer to not be able to get in touch with you because your contact information is out of date.
Gari Cruze does an excellent job of making his contact information visible and accessible on every page of his website:
8. An Unprofessional Email Address
A professional headshot and polished resume with all the relevant highlights can be ruined by one thing: an unprofessional email address. If you still have the same email address you used since high school, now is the best time to change it.
Many hosting providers will allow you to create an email tied directly to your domain name. Do take a few minutes to set it up and get used to using it for all professional communication from now on.
It makes you appear mature and serious about your professional life. Not to mention it looks better when you’re sending an email as firstname.lastname@example.org rather than email@example.com
9. Omitting Keywords
If you have a personal resume website, it’s natural to include it in the paper resume that you send when applying for jobs. But, if you carefully include keywords that relate to your desired job throughout your website, you greatly increase your chances of getting found and getting hired.
Unfortunately, too many people leave out keywords and treat their website like they would a standard resume. Instead of using generic descriptions and adjectives that you think will paint a positive image, why not include precisely what you do and how you can help a specific company get better results by hiring you?
One of the easiest ways to do that is to include a blog on your site and write about your professional field. You can include the following types of posts:
- Common misconceptions about your profession
- Case studies that highlight how you achieved a particular result
- Past project descriptions
- Industry news through your perspective
- What other people need to know about working with someone in your industry
By adding a blog, you can include keywords naturally where they fit, instead of trying to squeeze them onto a page or two. The latter will have the opposite effect and be seen as keyword stuffing which will push your site further down in rank. The former, on the other hand, makes you more searchable, which increases your chances of getting found by the right people.
Take a cue from Yolander Prinzel who not only includes relevant keywords in her site descriptions but also sprinkles them in naturally by describing her services:
10. Not Including Testimonials
It’s customary to include a line in your resume that states references are available upon request. However, that line might be a waste of space on your resume and will certainly not help you on your website either.
If you’re applying for a job, most employers will assume you will have a list of references ready for them. But, on your website you can do even better by including testimonials from previous employers, clients, even classmates or college professors.
They help you build social proof and serve as a backup to everything you've stated about yourself. Aside from including the testimonial itself, consider adding the person’s contact information so potential employers can get in touch with them if they want extra reassurance.
David Lamartina has a whole page dedicated to testimonials:
Set Yourself Apart With a Stellar Personal Website
We mentioned this before but we simply cannot stress it enough: a great resume website will flood your inbox with job offers and your phone will not stop ringing. It’s the perfect addition to that paper resume you’re still required to send as it reduces the chances of employers stumbling on a different person with the same name.
However, it’s easy to make a simple mistake that will hurt your job hunting prospects. Use the tips above to avoid making one and to create a stellar personal website.
And if you need a little help in coming up with the design, don’t forget to check out our selection of premium Wordpress resume themes, or high-quality HTML resume site templates, which will make your job easier and allow you to set yourself apart.