6 Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid!


Maybe start by changing that “hilarious” email address you’ve been using since middle school.

Is there anything more stressful than job hunting? You’re applying for what seems like hundreds of jobs every day, writing and rewriting cover letters, and scouring the internet for new postings for hours on end. But all that could be for nothing if your resume game isn’t locked down…

Yes, we know you likely pored over your resume for days, obsessively changing the font and switching the bullet points to diamonds and back again. But no matter how many times you’ve read it over, you’re probably still making some mistakes. We talked to a few H.R. professionals, recruiters, and career prep coaches to see what you can do to polish up that resume and make it shine. They told us about the six most common resume mistakes they’re tired of seeing.

1. One typo is too many!

Resume typos are embarrassingly easy to make, and they’re difficult to catch if you’re proofing your own work. Sadly, nothing causes a hiring manager to pitch your resume in the trash like spotting a misspelled word, misplaced comma, or grammatical error.

If you can’t bother to check the document you send to hiring managers when you need a job, you likely won’t care about checking your work when hired,” said Jason Patel, a former career ambassador at George Washington University and founder of Transzion, a college and career prep company focused on closing the opportunity divide in the United States.

To cut down on your chances of sending out a typo-filled resume, have a word-minded friend (or two!) look it over before you start applying. They might catch something small that you’ve seen too many times to register.

2. Too vague and too long. 

If you’re applying for a marketing gig, there’s no need to include that summer lifeguarding job you had back in college. While you might think it’s important to include every single job you’ve ever had on your resume, that’s actually a big mistake.

“Include only relevant and more recent jobs,” said Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, a certified professional resume writer and owner of Feather Communications. “While I LOVED my job as bank teller in high school, that was more than 20+ years ago and is no longer relevant. You don’t need to include every single job that you have ever had on your resume. Think relevance over quantity of past job experiences.”

Additionally, you should keep your resume short and to the point. Employers and recruiters look at a LOT of resumes, they don’t have time to flip through four pages to see whether or not you’re qualified. Find a way to keep your resume succinct, ideally all on one page.

3. Where are the keywords?

“One of the most common resume mistakes today is not optimizing for Applicant Tracking Systems,” said Natalya Khaykis, a career expert with Zipjob. “Most companies today use ATS to automatically screen resumes and send only the most qualified candidates forward to a hiring manager for review. A candidate could be qualified for the position but if their resume is not optimized, it’s usually rejected. The best way to optimize a resume for an ATS is to use a standard format and include keywords that are found in the job posting.”

For example, Khaykis says if a job posting says applicants should require knowledge of a certain program or CMS – like Excel or WordPress – you need to make sure that those skills (if you have them, at least) are listed on your resume. Without that, the AI systems many companies use to screen applicants could pass you by.

4. Your contact information is inaccurate (or unprofessional).

You might have the perfect resume, but misplace a digit in your phone number, and you might never know how badly your dream employer wants to hire you. Double check – then triple check – that all the contact information on your resume is correct. Once you’re sure, take another look at your email address. If it’s not some combination of your first and last name, or if it’s a holdover from your days as president of your local hamster club, you might want to sign up for something a little more professional before you start sending out your resume.

“One of the most common resume mistakes is the personalized email that makes you look unprofessional, such as showmethemoney@gmail.com or ilovecats24@yahoo.com,” said Tiffani Murray, a resume and career consultant. “This can make recruiters take your resume less seriously. While they may also be a cat lover, that may not win them over as far as considering you for the job.”

5. Keep your GPA to yourself. 

Unless you graduated at the very top of your class two months ago or are applying to graduate school, it’s likely that no one cares about your college or high school GPA.

“GPA after a certain level of experience and years in the workforce is unnecessary, especially if you weren’t at the top of your class,” said Murray.

6. No headshots, please. 

Are you applying to be Miss America? No? Then leave the headshot at home. It’s weird, and can actually make employers uncomfortable enough to toss your resume outright.

“Just don’t do it,” said Patel. “Companies don’t want to be liable for discriminating based on race, age, gender, or any protected class. Your headshot opens them up to liability, so they’ll throw your resume in the garbage to avoid any conflict.”

If a job you’re applying for asks you to provide a headshot, you should probably run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Unless you’re an actor, you should not need to look a certain way in order to do a job properly.

Are you job hunting? Want to learn about other ways to increase your income? Check out these related posts and articles from OppLoans:

What resume mistakes have you made? We want to hear from you! You can email us or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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natalya-khaykisNatalya Khaykis is a career expert and analyst at Zipjob. She graduated from NYU with a masters and currently resides in New York City. She covers topics related to resume writing and job search.
myspace1 (1)Tiffani Murray is a recognized leader in the human resources community, in addition to being a results-oriented career consultant and resume writer for clients through her company Personality On a Page.  She was selected as one of Workforce Management Magazine’s inaugural 15 “Game Changers” in H.R. under 40 for her work in corporate America and initiatives as an independent H.R. strategy/technology consultant.
Jason PatelJason Patel is a former career ambassador at The George Washington University and the founder of Transzion, a college and career services company that helps students prepare for college and beyond. Transizion donates a portion of profits to charity every year. Jason has helped over 400 individuals with college and career services.
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish is a certified professional resume writer and owner of Feather Communications.

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