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7 Common Resume Mistakes

7 Common Resume Mistakes


If you’re like most job applicants, you’ve spent time scratching your head about applications you submitted only to hear nothing back. Most likely there was something about your resume that was unappealing to big recruiters, something that you didn’t even realize could matter.

Below are some of the most common mistakes people make on their resumes.

1. Generalizations

No matter what field you are in, one of the worst things you can do is to be too general. When asking for your skill set, recruiters and employers seek people who are able to complete certain, very particular tasks–not people who list broad generalizations implying they don’t excel at any one thing at all.

>>>SOLUTION<<<  Take time to look carefully through each job announcement to see what specific skills the recruiter is looking for. Make sure to specifically address your experience in those areas.

2. Typos and bad grammar

There is no excuse for spelling errors. It takes only minimal effort to ensure that your resume is free of any spelling errors. If you’ve spent hours tweaking the formatting to get it just right, not going that extra mile to make your resume perfect is a little silly–and reads that way too. As a grammar snob (English Major), there is nothing more annoying that reading something that has incorrect grammar. I immediately lose respect.

>>>SOLUTION<<<  If you have trouble with grammar, have a friend look it over. In fact, have a few friends look it over for you. There are many places to look up common grammar mistakes.

3. Passive phrases

When noting duties in a previous job or internship, avoid phrases like responsible for.  Instead, opt for words like handled or organized. Although the change is small, the voice you have in your resume seems that much more powerful with minimal effort.

>>>SOLUTION<<< It’s best to start with a verb. If you can’t think of verbs to use, use a thesaurus or a website like this.

4. Aesthetically unappealing

Being pleasing to the eye is key to scoring a good, worthwhile read. Send your resume over to a couple others before using it to submit an application. Make sure that those who receive it aren’t overwhelmed by text or distracted by formatting issues.

>>>SOLUTION<<< Go to the library and check out some resume books with samples of resumes. Look for one that is formatted professionally and use that as a guide.

5. Bad objectives

Some people prefer not to submit objectives; others believe they play a vital role in job acquisition. Regardless of your stance on objectives, it’s important to have one with dazzling, descriptive adjectives–or leave it out completely. What’s vital here is avoiding the low effort objective because it can only hurt your chances.

>>>SOLUTION<<< Forget the objective, and go with a Professional Summary that gives your experience and who you are in a nutshell. Don’t let it be more than five lines long. This should just be a quick overview.

6. Not playing up your strengths

Many people don’t realize that they can use the duties section of each experience in order to underscore their good qualities and traits, as well as important accomplishments–such as leadership, teamwork, communication, etc.–rather than simply list past responsibilities.

>>>SOLUTION<<< While your duties are important, nothing is as important as really examining what YOU have brought to the position. Your accomplishments speak about your capabilities, who you are, and what kind of employee you will be.

7. Sending the same resume to everyone

One resume is never right for every place you apply. Employers love seeing that you put the extra effort into tailoring such a vital document just for their needs. More often than you think they take notice, so be sure to modify your resume for each potential employer.

>>>SOLUTION<<< Look carefully over each job announcement and make sure you have used the same keywords and phrases in your resume. Make sure you have given examples of your experience that parallels what they are looking for. If you have to, cut out irrelevant content to add more information about what qualifies you for the job.