Common Resume Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

A resume serves as a crucial document that can significantly influence the trajectory of your career. It helps you show companies why they should hire you, why recruiters should be interested in you, and when networking, helping those understand your comprehensive background of experience. If your resume does not meet the expected standards of quality and relevance, it can cost you a chance at a great opportunity. This article aims to provide valuable insights into common resume mistakes and how to avoid them so you enjoy a successful (and hopefully fast) job search!

Mistake 1: Typos and Grammatical Errors

One big mistake on resumes is spelling and grammar errors. These mistakes can make it look like you don’t care about your work. They can also make it hard for the company to understand what you are trying to say. Here are some tips to help you find and fix these errors:

  1. Read your resume out loud: When you read your resume out loud, it helps you find mistakes. You can hear how the words sound together and see if something is wrong.
  2. Use a spell-check tool: You can quickly use Word’s spell checker but I absolutely recommend Grammarly – either the free or premium service. This will not only check for spelling errors but also punctuation, grammar, and even tone/passive voice.
  3. Ask a friend or family member to review: Sometimes, other people can find mistakes that you might miss.
  4. Take breaks between editing sessions: It can be hard to find mistakes if you have been looking at your resume for a long time. Take a break and come back to it later with fresh eyes.

Grammarly – an incredible free content editing tool

Mistake 2: Lack of Focus

Another item that hits the common resumes mistake and how to avoid them is to be clear about what job you want. A good resume is easy to read and tells the company what you can do for them. Here are some steps to help you make a focused resume:

  1. Research the company and job posting: Before you start writing your resume look at multiple job descriptions and companies so you can understand what information is relevant and should be included. Try to identify experiences and accomplishments you have that will align nicely to the position you are interested in.
  2. Tailor your resume to the position: Once you know about the job, you can change your resume to fit it better. Show the company that you have the skills and experience they need by highlighting what keywords are listed in the job description and matching them to your resume. For example, if a company is looking for Process Improvement skills and you have Continuous Improvement, consider switching to Process.
  3. Highlight relevant skills and experience: Make sure your resume shows the most important things about you with concise and effective accomplishments that showcase the skill.

Mistake 3: Poor Formatting and Design

A resume with bad formatting and design can be hard to read. If a company cannot read your resume, they will immediately move to the next application. Here are some key elements of good resume formatting:

  1. Use a clean and simple design: Make your resume look nice and easy to read. You can use a simple font, like Arial, Calibri, or Cambria. You can also use bold and italics to make important things stand out.
  2. Utilize white space strategically: White space is the empty space on a page. Having some white space on your resume makes it much easier to read. Make sure there is space between different sections and lines of text.
  3. Consistency in font size and style: Use the same font size and style throughout your resume. This will make it look professional and easy to read. Please note, you may wish to use a larger size for resume headings such as Professional Experience and Education.
  4. Use bullet points for easy reading: Instead of writing long paragraphs, use bullet points to list your skills and experience. This makes your resume easier to read and understand.
  5. Mix in a hint of color to really make your resume pop. Consider using a different color for your name or professional headline (e.g. Sales Manager or Marketing Coordinator). Additionally, you could use an easy-on-the-eyes color for resume headings to help with the flow.

Mistake 4: Inaccurate or Outdated Information

If your resume has wrong or old information, it can certainly impact your job search. Companies want to know that you are honest and up-to-date. Here is how to make sure your resume is accurate and current:

  1. Update your resume regularly: Make a habit of looking at your resume every six months – even if you observe there are no changes, at least you are in a great position if an opportunity suddenly is posted. Add new skills, experiences, and accomplishments as they happen. This will keep your resume fresh and up-to-date.
  2. Verify dates and details: Make sure all the dates and details on your resume are correct. Double-check your work history, education, and other information to ensure accuracy.
  3. Remove irrelevant or outdated information: As time goes by, some things on your resume might not be important anymore. Take out old jobs or skills that don’t relate to the job you want now. This will make your resume more focused and easier to read.

Mistake 5: Being Too Vague or Generic

A big mistake on resumes is not being specific enough about what you can do. A good resume shows the company why you are a candidate they need to take an interest in and why they should hire you. Here are some strategies for making your resume stand out from a sea of other applications:

  1. Use quantifiable achievements: When you talk about your accomplishments, use numbers to show how well you did. For example, instead of saying “improved sales,” say “increased sales by 20%.” This enables the company to grasp the extent to which your contribution can be instrumental in their success.
  2. Include industry-specific keywords: Companies often use (ATS) to analyze resumes/job applications. An ATS (Applicant Tracking System) manages and automates an organization’s recruitment process. It scans resumes for relevant keywords and phrases, ranks them based on relevance, and presents the most qualified candidates to the recruiters for further review. Make sure you analyze the job description to determine which keywords are relevant and should be (if applicable) listed on your resume.
  3. Showcase unique skills and experiences: Think about the things that make you different from other individuals applying for the role. Maybe you have a special skill or an interesting experience. Include these things on your resume to show the company why you are the best person for the job.

Mistake 6: Excessive Length

Another mistake on resumes is making them too long. Most companies want to see a resume that is short and easy to read. Here are some tips for creating a concise and impactful resume:

  1. Limit your resume to one or two pages: Most people should have a resume that is only one or two pages long. This makes it easy for the company to read and understand. If you have a lot of experience, you can use a second page, but make sure it is still easy to read. There’s no easy answer to how long your resume should be but in general, you capture about the past 10 years. If you are a student/entry-level, typically a one-page resume is sufficient.
  2. Focus on your most relevant accomplishments: Your resume should show the company why you are the best person for the role. This means you should only include the things that are most important. Think about your biggest accomplishments and how they relate and make sure, if it’s possible, to use metrics.
  3. Edit ruthlessly and remove redundancies: Look at your resume and take out anything that is not needed. This might be information that is repeated or not important. This will make your resume shorter and easier to read.

In this article, you learned about more common resume mistakes and how to avoid them. By being specific, using keywords, and keeping your resume short, precise, and metric-driven, you can make your resume stand out from the crowd. This will help you get the job of your dreams.

Remember to always work on your resume and keep updating it as necessary.

Recap of Common Resume Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  1. Typos and grammatical errors – Proofread your resume, use spell-check tools, and ask someone to review it.
  2. Lack of focus – Research the company and job posting, tailor your resume to the position and highlight relevant skills and experience.
  3. Poor formatting and design – Use a clean and simple design, utilize white space strategically, maintain consistency in font size and style, and use bullet points for easy reading.
  4. Inaccurate or outdated information – Update your resume regularly, verify dates and details, and remove irrelevant or outdated information.
  5. Being too vague or generic – Use quantifiable achievements, include industry-specific keywords, and showcase unique skills and experiences. 6. Excessive length – Limit your resume to one or two pages, focus on your most relevant accomplishments, and edit ruthlessly to remove redundancies.

By following these tips and being mindful of these common resume mistakes and how to avoid them, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a strong and effective resume. Always remember that your resume is your personal marketing tool, and it should showcase your skills and experiences in the best possible light. Keep refining your resume and learning from feedback to make it even better. With dedication and persistence, you’ll be able to create a resume that opens doors to exciting job opportunities and helps you achieve your career goals.

About Simply Great Resumes

Simply Great Resumes is an Executive and Professional Resume Writing Service located in Milwaukee (previously Minneapolis) who partners with business leaders and emerging professionals within Global Fortune 500, large private, mid-sized, and start-up enterprises since 2012.

A solopreneur business, Simply Great Resumes is owned by Kerry Gustafson, a recognized, award-winning professional who holds industry-leading certifications – Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Certified Career Coach (CPCC), and Certified Interview Coach (CIC) through the first association for career professionals in the world, PARW/CC. Dedicated to partnering and delivering on client career goals and branding strategies, Gustafson holds an incredible industry-high referral rate of over 90% year-over-year – a testament to the results she delivers and the value she provides to her high-performing clients.