9 Common Resume Writing Mistakes to Avoid

9 Common Resume Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Without a strong resume that clearly conveys your experience and potential as a candidate, you won’t get the chance to shine in the job interview.

Submitting a resume is often the first step in the job-search process and is arguably the most vital. Without a strong resume that clearly conveys your experience and potential as a candidate, you won’t get the chance to shine in the job interview. If you never get the opportunity to interview, you won’t be in the running to receive the job offer.

That’s why writing a good resume is so important. Preparing to apply for a job? Here are 9 resume writing mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

1. Spelling and Grammar Errors

Spell check doesn’t catch everything – and it can’t catch grammar mistakes and typos. Recruiters and hiring managers on the other hand will catch these costly mistakes and judge your resume based on them.

With something as important as a job resume, you don’t want to only proof read your resume on your computer screen. Print it out and read it from top to bottom. Write it, let it sit, and read it the next day. Check spelling, spacing, and grammar. Read it out loud and slowly. These are all simple ways to catch costly resume spelling and grammar errors.

2. Detailing Irrelevant Experience

If you’re applying for a job in IT, you don’t need to highlight your part-time job as a yoga instructor. Each resume should be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for. Focus on the results, achievements, and experiences you’ve had that relate to that specific role.

If you’re seeking a job in IT, being a yoga instructor is not one of those requirements. But hey, taking a break and teaching yoga to your IT team may someday be helpful once hired.

3. Including Your Entire Work History

If you’re an experienced worker, you don’t need to include a complete work history, especially if the job/work is not relevant. Focus on the last 10-15 years and again, highlight relevant successes related to the specific job. The job search truly is all about the “what have you done lately” mentality.

4. Including References

Hiring managers and recruiters know that references are available upon request. Your resume should aim to be informative, but also efficient.  You don’t waste crucial space on your resume telling an employer what they already know – that references are available upon request.

Instead, write out a list of references and print it out on a separate piece of paper and bring it to the interview. If the employer asks for references, hand them that sheet of paper. Or, email it to them if asked for electronically.

Speaking of references, be sure to call your references and let them know employers may be calling so they are prepared to talk about your strengths and the impact you can make for the next employer.

5. Focusing on High School or College Accomplishments

Mentioning you are captain of the soccer team is a good idea for high school students applying for part-time or summer work. Mentioning how you were editor of your college newspaper or VP of the student senate is also helpful for entry-level job seekers just out of college.

But beyond that first job, the focus of the resume should all be on results/successes in business environments. Employers want to know how you’ve succeeded on the job, whether it’s your second job, third job, or 10 years down the road.

6. Using Inappropriate Email Addresses

It still happens. Job seekers have what they perceive to be fun or witty email addresses. That’s fine and dandy when communicating with friends or family. But when writing a resume and applying for a job, using a basic email with any combination with your first or last name is recommended.

7. Don’t Write a Three-Page Resume

While there is still debate on how long a resume should be – some recruiters believe one page is sufficient, while others say two pages is fine, especially for experienced job seekers, one thing that is universal is that a resume should never be three pages. A resume isn’t a career biography, it’s a marketing tool that shows employers you are a fit for that specific job. Focus on that angle, not your entire career history, to stand out.

8. Don’t Include a Picture

Including a picture on a resume is common in Europe. But here in the United States, leave it off your resume. Using graphics, logos, or designs is also something you’ll want to avoid.

Employers don’t want to see a picture (they’ll see one once they view your LinkedIn profile), as job seekers could use it as a basis for a discrimination lawsuit, and applicant tracking systems can’t read fancy graphics, charts, or logos. A good-looking resume is important, but focus on clear and concise writing, formatting, and allowing the resume to breathe (don’t cram everything in!).

9. Don’t Lie or Exaggerate

Don’t stretch the truth. And don’t make things up. If a hiring manager or recruiter discovers that you’ve lied or misled them on your resume, you’re going to be quickly eliminated from consideration.

Even if a lie or embellishment goes unnoticed during the hiring process, if an employer discovers that an employee lied on their application there’s a good chance that employee will lose their job.

Represent yourself honestly, and you have nothing to worry about.