Common Resume Mistakes and How to Fix Them

By Victoria Robertson on March 15, 2018

A successful resume can mean the difference between obtaining a job and not. So when you have resume mistakes, this reads as unprofessional to a potential employer and causes them to move on to the next applicant. While employers aren’t necessarily looking for perfection, they are looking for attention to detail, and resume mistakes don’t read well in that regard.

For this reason, you can’t afford any resume mistakes when applying to positions, especially as an entry-level applicant. So in the interest of assisting you in your job search, here are ten resume mistakes that might just cost you a new job.

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1. Grammatical errors

First and foremost, some of the most common resume mistakes are related to grammatical errors. Whether this is simple misspellings of words or improper punctuation, these errors do not read well on a professional document meant to highlight your strengths.

It’s absolutely imperative that you proofread your resume prior to submitting it for consideration. In addition, it helps to have another individual proofread it with a fresh set of eyes, as they might catch mistakes that you missed.

Grammatically speaking, it’s also important that you remain consistent throughout your resume. For example, if you use the Oxford comma in one section of your resume, the rest of your resume should also utilize this comma. If you use conjunctions such as “it’s” in one place, you shouldn’t use “it is” in others. This not only demonstrates your grammatical acumen, but it also shows an attention to detail that hiring managers are going to take note of.

2. Lengthy objective statements

For those of you unfamiliar with resume writing, there is a typical format that includes an objective statement in which an applicant includes a statement of intent. In other words, this statement lets the hiring manager know what you are looking for in a potential opportunity.

There is a lot of debate as to whether or not this statement is necessary, and really, it’s up to your discretion. That being said, if you do choose to include such a statement, there are several things to keep in mind. For one thing, this is meant to be a short statement that provides an overview of your background and career goals. It’s easy to get carried away here and drone on about your qualifications, but let your resume speak for itself. Keep your statement short, sweet and to the point.

Second, tailor this statement to the job you are applying for. Just because you’re looking for a position in Marketing doesn’t mean that all positions in that field are looking for the same type of candidate. A position seeking a Marketing Copywriter and a position seeking a Creative Design Marketer are vastly different. So, tailor your statement accordingly. For the copywriter opportunity, state your interest in writing and briefly outline your experience. For the design opening, state your interest in graphic design and outline your experience there.

Each position will be different, and speaking to the specific position in your objective statement can work in your favor more than a general overview would.

3. Overall length

Many applicants struggle with their resume length. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to keep it short. However, limiting yourself to one page when you have two pages worth of experience is doing a disservice to your candidacy and is a major resume mistake.

To determine where you fall, look at your experience. If you are seeking an entry-level position, your resume shouldn’t go over one page. If you are seeking a mid to senior level position, you should be including all relevant experience on your resume, regardless of page length. From there, you can shorten your resume if necessary.

An ideal resume is 1-2 pages, as you don’t want to lose the hiring manager’s attention. However, don’t leave out important details to meet that page requirement. Take a look at your experience, prioritize and craft your resume accordingly. For additional help regarding your qualifications, you can always utilize a resume writing workshop and get some advice specific to your experiences and goals.

4. Listing responsibilities

In a resume, you are trying to explain to a hiring manager why you are qualified for a position. For this reason, simply listing your job experience without elaborating on your day-to-day responsibilities is yet another resume mistake.

Generally speaking, you want to list bullet points that detail your responsibilities under each position you’ve held. That being said, you don’t want to include too little or too much information – there is a happy medium here.

Take a look at the job description for the position you are applying to. What are they looking for? What specific tasks have you taken on that fit those requirements? This will help to guide you in terms of what information is important on your resume and what isn’t. So if the job is for a technical writer and they are looking for an organized, self-starter, make sure your responsibilities include that time that you took the initiative outside of your assigned responsibilities and organized your internship’s publication schedule.

While you don’t need to tailor every detail in your resume, adding such key points will really help to set you apart from the competition.

5. Contact information

You need to include your contact information on your resume. This includes your email (make sure your personal email is professional sounding), best phone number, and current location (city and state – you do not need your full address). Without this information listed on your resume, employers are unable to contact you if they are interested in your candidacy.

Additionally, there are many applicants that strictly include emails as they prefer email communication, but not listing your phone number can read negatively to a hiring manager. When you are applying for positions, you want to appear as available as possible, so listing your contact details is very important.

Recruiters do also use this information to reach out to you when you post your resumes on job boards, and this can certainly work in your favor, so make sure that you are including that information to broaden your search scope.

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6. Educational information

Many applicants also make resume mistakes in their educational background. For one thing, you need to include your highest level of completed education. If you don’t have a college degree, make sure that’s clear on your resume. If you are working towards a degree but have not yet obtained it, make sure you state the expected date of graduation to alert employers that the degree is not completed.

While leaving out this information may feel like it increases your odds, all it does is waste a hiring manager’s time as well as your own if a company requires a completed degree for all employees. So be transparent on your resume when it comes to your education.

Additionally, providing your date of graduation is always important, as well as GPA. That being said, including GPA is only beneficial to you if it’s noteworthy (i.e. if you had a 3.5+ GPA). If not, it does not need to be included, so do not feel obligated to.

Finally, any honors related to your education should be included here as well. It might feel like you’re bragging, but any achievements should always be listed on your resume, including, but not limited to, honor society involvement, dean’s list inclusion, etc.

7. High school experience

As an entry-level candidate, it’s often tempting to include high school work experience to bolster your resume and give the appearance of experience. Avoid this urge, as it’s another common resume mistake.

Most high school experience is irrelevant when it comes time to apply for entry-level openings. Your position at the department store as a sales associate is only relevant if you are applying for a customer service/sales opportunity. So you can include this information if it speaks directly to the position you are applying to, otherwise, drop it entirely.

This also goes for any high school clubs or distinctions. Your involvement in your high school honor society doesn’t mean anything upon college graduation, so don’t list it on your resume. Involvement in your college honor society is a different story.

In other words, be picky when it comes to your high school experiences. When in doubt, don’t include it. Your goal is to appear professional and relying on your high school experiences can have the opposite impact.

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8. Too much information

Just like your resume can be too long, you can include too much information on your resume. While you do want to highlight all relevant experience, you don’t want to go overboard, either. So, rather than detailing every task you complete during the work day, go for the bigger ticket items.

For example, rather than creating several bullet points related to your organizational skills, condense these items into one bullet point. Go for the general ideas and elaborate from there.

In addition, you want to be truthful on your resume, so don’t include information that you aren’t confident in. If you created a promotional ad once, but aren’t sure you could do it again, leave that out. Or, word that experience appropriately: i.e. “Contributed to creation of promotional ads.” This says that you didn’t complete this on your own, but that you have some knowledge in this regard.

Playing with wording is key, and you want to continue with the mantra: short, sweet and to the point. Don’t overdo it and don’t oversell yourself.

9. Formatting

This is a key resume mistake that many applicants don’t even pick up on. Formatting your resume is extremely important, as this impacts the overall look of your resume. While this may not seem that important, it gives the hiring manager a positive or negative image, and that’s without even reading it. So, to say it’s important is an understatement.

Formatting includes the font size, font choice, indentations and consistency. Again, consistency is key when it comes to building a resume. So, if you use Times New Roman in one section, the entire resume needs to be in Times New Roman.

Your name should be large, your contact information smaller. If your company title is in bold one place, it needs to be bold everywhere else. These are all minor details that impact the overall aesthetic of your resume, so paying attention to them is very important.

10. Structure

Along these same lines, it’s important to structure your resume in a way that’s aesthetically easy to follow and visually pleasing.

For one thing, your most recent experience should be listed at the top, and your experience should follow from there chronologically, ending with your least recent experience. This is the most common formatting, so this is the best way to avoid confusion.

In addition, when you list your experience, if you have the company title, position title and dates listed in that order for one position, all following positions need to be structured similarly. Again, this is a matter of consistency and, while it seems a minute detail considering the bigger picture, it does have a big impact on a hiring manager.

Structure here also refers to the layout of the resume as a whole. Any random indentations or areas in which your formatting is confusing can come across as sloppy to a hiring manager and cost you a job, without even considering your qualifications yet.

First impressions matter, and the structure/formatting of your resume is yours, so don’t make this resume mistake!

When it comes to applying for new positions, no matter the level you are applying for, resume mistakes are costly and detrimental to your chances of getting hired. And while it’s monotonous and uninteresting, crafting the perfect resume without mistakes is essential to success in your job search.

By keeping these 10 resume mistakes in mind when building a new resume, you will avoid some of the most common pitfalls and hopefully, greatly improve your chances at being brought in for an interview by the hiring manager.

Just as you would dress to impress during an interview, your resume should be top-notch to give that clean and professional appearance that hiring managers crave.

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