Top 20 Resume Writing Mistakes

If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a million times; when it comes to your prospects at landing a new career or position, you only get one chance to make a great first impression.  For most of us, that mission-critical introduction to the potential employer will come when our resume is subjected to review.

A great resume will see you getting a second consideration for an interview or, in rare instances, perhaps an offer right out of the gate.  A poorly crafted or mistake-riddled resume, however, can see your chances at a call back disappear. If you’re short on time but big on your need for a quality resume, check out our top 20 resume writing mistakes, along with hints for just how to avoid them.

  1.  Unclear Objective Statement

An objective statement is an optional addition to any resume or application.  If you do choose to include this brief sentence or two regarding your career or industry goals, make sure you stay away from generic “earn a job” type of listings and instead state the specifics of what you’d like to accomplish in your next position.

  1. Failing to Tailor the Resume to the Position

Long gone are the days of generic resumes to fit any and all submissions.  Have a solid resume that lists your qualifications as a starting spot then customize based on individual employers’ needs and the job listing at hand.

  1.  Having an Unorganized Resume

Any employer worth their salt is going to quickly skip past a resume that doesn’t clearly and concisely lay out a candidate’s qualifications and work history.  Lack of organization in your resume, doesn’t bode well for your employment. Group information by date of employment and type and you’ll have an easy to read and actionable resume.

  1.  Failing to Showcase Your Skills

In today’s competitive job market, hiring managers will often find themselves inundated with dozens or hundreds of applicants for a single open listing.  Set yourself apart from the crowd by showcasing your relevant and exceptional skills or risk being overlooked.

  1.  Using Valuable Resume Real Estate for Old Positions

That job you had waiting tables at the local ice cream parlour when you were 15 isn’t going to get you very far in your career as an industrial engineer.  Update your resume and remove stale, outdated and irrelevant older positions which will open up room to further showcase your more applicable experience.

  1.  Using a Cookie Cutter Template

There’s a fine line between approachable formatting and coming off as stale or boring in your presentation of work history.  Stay away from templates that don’t allow your information to stand out while being easily accessible and readable.

  1.  Typos and Grammatical Errors

Much like our advice regarding organizational skills, typos and grammatical errors can mean a death knell to your resume first impression and your job prospects.  Review and proofread before hitting send in order to put your best application foot forward.

  1.  Failing to Focus on Accomplishments

If you’ve been in the job market for any length of time, chances are you’ve got a few accomplishments worthy of bragging about.  Be sure to include the most impressive of these on your resume to create an active tone and to demonstrate just what you’re capable of to a prospective employer.

  1.  Leaving out Resume Keywords

Technology has seen plenty of advancements in recent years.  It only makes sense, then, that employers have kept up in utilizing tech in the resume review process.  Carefully review the job listing for your desired position and be sure to include keywords and important descriptors in your resume so that electronic or automated process don’t kick your application straight to the recycle bin.

  1.  Including Photos or Personal Information

Your resume is an important tool for scoring a job interview, not a first date.  Photos and personal information like race, religion or birthdate may be interesting in a dating profile, but are unprofessional in the interview setting.  Not only will including these facts be off-putting, all good HR managers know this type of information exposes companies to big potential liabilities in terms of equal opportunity employment laws.

  1.  Sticking to a Single Page in Length

Most resume guides will agree that less is more when it comes to essential resume length.  If you’ve been in the professional space for any length of time, however, you may need that second page to fully showcase your skills and qualifications.

  1.  Including Distracting Information

Your resume should be an attempt to land a career making role.  Why, then, include awards, hobbies, skills or other information that isn’t applicable to the desired position?  Including these facts not only takes up resume space, it can also distract from your real qualifications.

  1.  Spicing Up Your Font

When it comes to resume fonts, keep things clean and easy to read.  This isn’t the time to try and express your creativity or individuality by trying out Comic Sans for the first time.  Stick with the classics in order to avoid standing out in a negative light.

  1.  Listing an Inappropriate Email Address

ILIKEBEER@AOL.COM may have been all the rage in your college days, but something with a bit more class is needed when applying for an adult job.  A simple address using your name at a recognized and mainstream service such as gmail is the way to go for a professional contact.

  1.  Overemphasizing Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities

Don’t get us wrong; including hobbies that showcase your leadership, philanthropic or other desirable traits could be an x-factor with the right employer.  Most hiring managers, however, aren’t really interested in your pet rock collection or the fact that you knit sweaters out of your cat’s hair. Avoid distracting from your legitimate experience and nix the questionable activities from your resume.

  1.  Including Your High School Name and GPA

The only time your High School name and GPA should be included on your resume is if you’re a recent grad or still enrolled.  Your prospective employer was a young teenager once, also. They know just how little a general ed will be on your current skill set.  

  1.  Failure to Fill in the Blanks (Space)

Your resume has plenty to say about whether or not you score a callback or interview.  It doesn’t make much sense, then, that you would fail to utilize all the available space.  Be sure to include your relevant work history and experience and avoid big gaps on the page.

  1.  Incorrect Job Titles and Little White Lies

There are times in life when inflating your skills or job title may not cause much harm.  Your professional resume is not among these. Job titles and responsibilities are easily fact checked in today’s modern times.  Stick to just the facts to avoid sabotaging your own candidacy.

  1.  Failing to Mold Your Resume to Fit the Position

If you’re not hiring for a generic job role, why have a generic formatted resume.  Your submission should focus on traits that would be important to the position you’re applying for.  While failing to do this may not cost you a position, it certainly won’t win you any bonus points.

  1.  Using a Large Font

This last, but not least, on our list of 20 resume don’ts combines several of our previous pieces of advice.  A large font on your resume may stand out, but certainly not in a positive way. Larger fonts also take up valuable resume space and can make the wrong impression.

Have a tip we missed?  Shoot us a message or comment and maybe your helpful hint of resume must-nots will make our next update.

Article Updated from the Original on February 26, 2018