10 Common Resume Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Your resume is your first impression on you and your background. A mistake on your resume, once it’s out there, is really hard to undo and can prevent you from getting the interview that can change your life! Of the thousands of resumes that I have reviewed over the past 16 years, here are 10 of the most common mistakes:

1) TYPOS
Misspelled words, other typos and grammatical errors can kill your chances at getting an interview. I know of some hiring managers that reject candidates who submit resumes with even one tiny typo. Justified or not, they believe that those candidates may not care about their work product or details.

2) WRONG DATES
When the dates don’t make sense (please get the year right!), people get confused and sometimes will again think you do sloppy work.

3) TOO MUCH INFORMATION
Most hiring managers and recruiters don’t necessarily study resumes — they first scan them quickly to get an idea of what you did in that particular job, and then will read for more detail. Keep your descriptions short, and add bullet points to highlight your relevant tasks, achievements and performance results.

4) CRAZY FORMATTING
Unless you are a designer or a creative, please try to stick with a more or less traditional format to your resume. It makes it easier to quickly read/scan your information if it flows visually with not too many different fonts or bolds or caps.

5) WRONG EMAIL OR PHONE NUMBER
This one is pretty self explanatory! Sometimes you get a new number or change email addresses and forget to update your resume. Always make sure your contact info is correct.

6) LIES
Never add anything that is simply untrue. If a background check or reference check will not be able to verify your school, degree, job or the tasks you performed, you’re asking for unwanted problems.

7) TOO LONG
If you’ve been working for over 20 years and have had 8-10 jobs, you don’t need to include a complete description for each role. It’s better to be detailed for the past 10-12 years or 3-4 jobs; everything before that can be placed under a “Prior Experience” heading with company, title and dates included (still try and stay under 3 pages).

8) OBJECTIVE
Leave it out, unless it is very specific and for a particular type of position; for example “an entry level fundraising position with a non-profit”.

9) NO SKILLS SECTION
Software or other relevant skills should be highlighted in a separate section. Recruiters and hiring managers typically search for a specific skill when reviewing resumes for a position.

10) EMPLOYMENT GAPS WITH NO EXPLANATION
From time to time, things happen in life and you cannot work or cannot find work over a significant period of time. Add a line or two explaining what happened during that time.