10 Resume Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
Get The Job, Guides - 2 years ago

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As if writing your resume wasn’t stressful enough, there are several seemingly-harmless mistakes that are easy to overlook. They’re sneaky, they’re deceitful, and they’re sabotaging your chances of getting hired. The worst part about these slip-ups? You might not even realize you’re making them.

Here’s the deal:

Even the most meticulous of candidates can let a mistake or two fall through. But just because you don’t notice your mistakes doesn’t mean that they’ll slip by employers. In fact, they’re probably the first thing employers see, before they see your resume to the trash.

Don’t panic! Even though these mistakes can ruin your chances of getting the job, it’s easy to ensure they never get a spot on your resume to begin with. On that note, here are 10 resume mistakes that could cost you the job and how to prevent them:

1. Spelling and grammar mistakes

Typos and grammatical errors destroy the credibility of your resume, plain and simple. If your resume doesn’t have perfect spelling and grammar, employers will assume that you have no attention to detail, that you can’t write, or that you just don’t care about the job. Not a very flattering image.

Luckily, this mistake has an easy fix: proofread. Look over your resume several times. Use spell check. Get a friend to take a look at your resume to catch any mistakes you may have overlooked. Heck, read it out loud as a theatrical performance if you have to. Just do whatever it takes to ensure you’re not submitting a resume with your own name spelled wrong.

2. Leaving out keywords

One of the best ways to get your resume noticed is to sprinkle it with keywords that match the job listing. It shows that you’re a strong fit for the job and that you meet even the most basic requirements.

Look over the job posting and make note of any and all keywords the employers use. They can be skills, qualifications, or experiences. Make sure to include as many as possible throughout your resume so you don’t get thrown out of the hiring process before you even get your foot in the door.

3. Going overboard and sharing too much information

If your resume is four pages long, it’s highly unlikely that employers will get past the first page. Don’t tell hiring managers every single menial detail about every job you’ve ever had, otherwise, your resume will probably just end up in the trash.

Keep your resume to one page. Only include relevant work history within the past 10-15 years. Focus on your biggest highlights and accomplishments in each position, and use bullet points with concise sentences to improve readability. Employers don’t need to know your entire life history — just the good stuff.

4. Writing a resume objective that doesn’t match the job

Make sure your resume objective or summary statement actually relates to the job you’re applying for. Many job seekers opt out of including a resume objective nowadays, but if you choose to include one, make sure to explain how you can add value to the company and how it ties into your overall career goals.

Don’t focus too heavily on yourself and make sure to show what you can do for the company. Never use a generic statement and be as specific as possible. Being vague or nondescript is a quick and easy way to get your resume thrown out.

5. Including boring or irrelevant information

Just as bad as including too much information is including details of your work history that are boring or don’t relate to the job. Resumes are not the place to be modest. Use your resume to show off your career highlights and show off why you’re the best person for the job.

Mention any awards or accomplishments you’ve achieved in your previous jobs — yes, even your “employee of the month” award at your college’s local burger joint. Mention any soft skills you’ve gained in the past as long as they relate to the job. If you think any aspect of your work experience could impress employers, go ahead and include it.

6. Using a generic resume

This is the cardinal sin of resume writing. Employers want to see that you’re the perfect fit for the job, and it’s going to be hard to accomplish that if you submit a vague resume that could be applied to any position.

You should always customize your resume for every position you apply for. Use it as an opportunity to include your most relevant information and clearly show employers why you’d be the perfect fit for their company.

7. Not highlighting your accomplishments

Remember, your resume is not the place to be humble. Make sure to write job descriptions that show what you’ve accomplished and not just your duties or responsibilities.

Showcasing your skills and achievements helps employers see how you can add value to their company, instead of showing them that you haven’t been jobless for the past three years.

8. Being passive

Using a passive voice in your resume ultimately downplays your accomplishments. Make sure to use action verbs to make your achievements seem strong and intentional.

So, rather than saying “Was responsible for organizing company fundraisers,” rephrase this description with action words to make it more powerful by saying “Organized company fundraisers 3 consecutive years.” Voila! Simple as that.

Here are some other action words to use on your resume:

  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Edited
  • Collected
  • Generated
  • Performed

You get the idea.

9. Not quantifying your accomplishments

Don’t just say you did something, prove it. It might sound impossible, but quantifying your accomplishments on your resume adds credibility, makes your claims more believable, and makes you seem more trustworthy.

Provide any evidence available to support your accomplishments. Numbers are the easiest and most credible way to add value to your statements — use percentages, sales figures, etc. Quantify wherever you can.

10. Having a visually distracting resume

Your middle school instincts may tell you to include a rainbow of font colors, as many different typefaces as you can muster, and some cute clip art to make things more interesting. Don’t give into these urges. You might think you’re sending a message that says “Look at me! I’m creative!” but in reality, it only shows that you’re unprofessional.

Having an aesthetically busy resume is distracting and will probably result in headaches and eyerolls in the hiring managers who have the misfortune to see it. Stick to using black font, one typeface, and clean formatting.

Now you know what mistakes to avoid when writing your resume!

A resume mistake or two can prevent even the most qualified candidates from getting their dream job. These mistakes can make employers think that you’re careless, unqualified, or that you’re just plain dumb.

Let’s not let that happen. Next time you’re customizing your resume for a job, just make sure to steer clear of these 10 mistakes, and you’re sure to land that glorious and highly coveted job offer!

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