Job Hunting Tips: 10 Common Resume Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Brooke Lester on Dec 16, 2022 5:12 AM


In the downturn of the economy over the last couple of years a lot of people were out of work. This also creates more competition for any open position within a particular company. When employers placed a help wanted ad or IT job posting, they tended to get hundreds of resumes. During the initial job screen, the hiring manager quickly scans the resumes and decides if there is any interest, normally looking for any reasons that would disqualify the resume, rather than calling each applicant.

Here are 10 common mistakes you should avoid to help your resume standout and increase your chances of getting a call to discuss your suitability for a job opening.

  1. Poor grammar and spelling
    Have someone review your resume for the simple mistakes you are likely to miss. You should use past tense in your resume except on your most current project or position.
  2. Describing yourself in the 3rd person
    “Kelly is an excellent developer.” Instead, just describe your responsibilities for that project and the benefits of your work to your employer.
  3. Apples and oranges
    In the objective section avoid statements that lead the manager to conclude that you want a different role than the one for which you are applying. A common example is applying for a hands-on development position and mentioning your desire to be a Project Manager.
  4. Different fonts
    It is best to use something simple and conservative like Arial 11. Don’t get too creative on the resume. You want your message to be clear, concise and easy to read.
  5. Personal information (TMI)
    “I am a Mother of 5 and have been the CEO of my house managing a budget of $30k, sending payments to creditors, driving children to school safely.” (I have actually seen this on a resume.)

    Avoid these simple mistakes and watch your batting average begin to improve as the economy continues to heat up. My next article will discuss suggestions for how to properly frame a technical resume.
  6. Lacking specific information
    It’s fantastic news to a potential employer that you’re highly skilled, were employed at several renowned firms in your field and/or possess a master’s degree – but if you don’t give the key details related to those facts, you’d almost be better off not mentioning them at all.

    Ask yourself whether your resume answers the “five ws”: who, what, when, where and why. If it’s leaving out any one of these, go back and fill in the missing information. (But don’t be too wordy. No one wants to read a six-page resume).
  7. A one-size-fits-all resume
    Chances are, your work history, education and skills aren’t an exact match to those of the sample professional in the online template you used to create your resume. So kick the generalisms, corporate lingo and vague wording and use the space to tell organizations what you could do for them if they hire you.

    For example, rather than write that you’re “results-driven” or a “team player,” give some brief examples of what you achieved for past employers and how you worked within a group to accomplish specific goals. That will say more than any buzzword ever could.
  8. Talking about duties, not accomplishments
    Whether you were outstanding or mediocre at your last job, the duties assigned to you in the position by the employer were the same – so don’t write about what was asked of you. Instead, tell the reader what you accomplished for past employers. Bonus points if you have hard data to back you up (“Increased sales by 18%,” for example).
  9. Bad summary
    Your resume summary, or objective section, is where you should succinctly summarize your prior work experience and explain how you can benefit the person reading if they hire you. If your summary doesn’t mention your background or the job you’re applying for, head back to the drawing board. Ditto if the document is lacking brief but necessary specifics, such as the number of years of work experience you have. 

    The summary should also include mention of your profession, a few of your biggest achievements in it and your top one to two skills. Tailor the section to the position you want so that it’s clear to the harried recruiter reading it that the document is specifically for them.
  10. Missing action verbs
    Using action verbs – the right ones – in your resume is another way to catch recruiters’ attention. Simply listing adjectives and nouns (i.e., “better employee engagement” or “a decrease in help tickets”) neither draws the eye or sparks interest in a reader. The same goes for long-overused action words, such as “managed” or “assisted with.”

Try some of the following, as applicable: directed, designed, coached and developed. Remember, you don’t want to just list the tasks you performed at old jobs. Make your resume pop with action words – ideally ones recruiters aren’t seeing 50 times a day.


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