14 Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid

7 Major Resume Mistakes You Might Be Making Right Now When you’re hunting for a new job, you've likely dedicated many hours to working on your resume. Even if you think your resume is perfect, you might have overlooked one of these errors unintentionally. Take a few minutes to review your resume for these 14 common mistakes before attaching it to your next job application.


1. Making spelling and grammar errors

Recruiters or hiring managers may immediately toss your resume aside because of minor mistakes. Common spelling errors, like typing “an” when you mean “and”, can happen to anyone. However, these types of errors can lead employers to form negative opinions about you, such as assuming you lack attention to detail.

Beyond simple spelling errors, grammatical tenses are commonly overlooked. Throughout your experience section, make sure you aren’t jumping back and forth between future, present, or past tenses. For example, when you’re speaking of previous experiences, remain consistent by only using past tense. While correct grammar and spelling won't guarantee your resume stands out, avoiding errors can help keep your resume in the competition. 


2. Focusing on responsibilities instead of achievements

When crafting your resume, it's important to strike a balance between oversharing and selling yourself short. Rather than getting hung up on finding the perfect verbs for your job duties, focus on highlighting your experiences clearly and concisely. You can achieve this by quantifying your accomplishments whenever possible. 

For example, if you managed a restaurant, don’t merely state, “Worked with employees in a restaurant setting.” Instead, elevate your daily tasks by saying, “Recruited, hired, trained, and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant generating over $2 million in annual sales.” Using real numbers in this way helps shift the focus from your responsibilities to your achievements more effectively. 


3. Exaggerating your abilities

Now that you know not to sell yourself short, the opposite is also true. You should never exaggerate or lie about your abilities on your resume. Some people think that they can get away with making false claims on their resume because they don’t believe the hiring committee will fact-check all the applicants. 

However, this approach often leads to negative consequences. If you can't deliver on tasks you claimed to excel in, it may raise red flags for your employer. Besides, many hiring managers are open to candidates who are honest and display the right attitude, even if they don't meet all the requirements. Try to avoid all half-truths and exaggerations on your resume. 


4. Providing too much personal information

Unless it's directly related to the job, it’s best to leave off family information, religious beliefs, or political leanings from your resume. Also, avoid mentioning age or marital status to prevent unintentional discrimination in hiring. Instead, focus on the professional skills and relevant experiences that make you a quality candidate. 

You might also be tempted to include hobbies like traveling, collecting baseball cards, playing pickleball, or candle making on your resume. While these activities can reveal your interests and personality, they are generally not relevant to the job. Only list hobbies and interests that are pertinent to the position, such as kickboxing if you’re applying to be a personal trainer or calligraphy if you’re applying to be cake decorator. 


5. Not tailoring your resume to the job

Gone are the days that you can use the same resume for every job application. Failing to tailor your resume for each job puts you at risk of being overlooked, regardless of your qualifications. When searching for jobs, take note of the requirements and preferred skills on the job posting. This is a simple way to tailor your resume effectively.

Aligning your resume with the job requirements shows your compatibility with the role. By taking this step, you demonstrate your interest and set yourself apart from others who may not make the effort. Even minor tweaks, such as changing "hard working" to "excellent work ethic" to match the job description, can make a positive impression on the hiring manager.


6. Overusing words and phrases

Repetitive words or phrases won't emphasize your uniqueness. Similar to not tailoring your resume for a specific job, overused phrases might indicate to recruiters that you didn't invest enough effort in their application process. Plus, using too many buzzwords could make you seem like you're trying too hard to be trendy. 

To vary your language, try looking up synonyms online or using a thesaurus. However, don’t just use the first word you find. Make sure to use words and phrases that naturally fit your vocabulary, as using overly complex words could turn recruiters away.


7. Using an inconsistent format

Your resume should be simple, clean, and easy to read. Just as choosing the right words is important, pay attention to the message conveyed through your formatting choices. Inconsistencies, like one work experience presented as a block of text while another uses bullet points, can confuse recruiters and take up their valuable time.

To present your information clearly, opt for bullet points and maintain a uniform design across your resume. Stick to a consistent font, and embrace the use of white space. You should save any detailed explanations for your cover letter or interview to keep your resume concise and impactful.


Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid supporting image

8. Making it too long or too short

For students, recent graduates, and professionals with less than five years of experience, a good rule of thumb is to keep your resume to one page. If it extends beyond a page, relevant skills may be hard for recruiters to find and might get lost in irrelevant details. 

On the other hand, a resume shorter than one page might indicate a lack of relevant qualifications or skills for the job. Aim for a happy medium: a concise, one-page resume that includes all essential details, like contact information, skills, work history, and education. Ultimately, your resume should be easy to scan while still providing a comprehensive overview.


9. Including a photo

In the United States, including a photo on your resume is generally considered unprofessional. Because it’s not a commonly accepted practice, it could make you seem out of touch with the application process. From a more practical stance, it could take up a lot of valuable space of your one-page resume. 

However, a photo may be relevant for certain jobs in the entertainment industry, such as tv broadcasting, acting, or modeling, to help employers make casting decisions. Though if you’re ever in doubt, save your professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile. The hiring manager will likely look up your social media anyway, if they think you’re a strong candidate. That’s why the way you present yourself online while job hunting is extremely important.


10. Not making your resume ATS-friendly

Many resumes go through an applicant tracking system (ATS) as the first line of review. When the system scans your resume, you want it to be flagged in order to be read later by a human. A few quick tips are to choose a standard font and clearly label all sections.

Also, you should include relevant keywords from the job posting. However, copying and pasting the entire job description will make you stand out excessively in a negative way. This approach could suggest to employers that you might take shortcuts in the future. At the end of the day, you should aim to make your resume easy to scan by both robots and humans. 


11. Listing the wrong contact information

Don’t forget to verify your contact information on your resume. You wouldn't want to miss out on a major career opportunity due to a simple typo. Triple check your phone number, email, and address to ensure recruiters can easily reach out to you for interviews or additional steps in the hiring process.

After you’ve guaranteed that you’ll be reached by your contact information, make sure it’s professional. An unprofessional email address, like dragonslayer89@email.com or prettylittleprincess@email.com, will make you stand out for the wrong reasons. Furthermore, make sure your voicemail is professional as well.


12. Keeping irrelevant skills and information

As your career progresses, you’ll accumulate more skills and experiences to add to your resume. At the same time, you can begin to take more information off of your resume. The ice cream shop you worked at in high school and the award you won freshman year of college will no longer be relevant. If you can’t decide which information is the most important, seeking input from a trusted friend or colleague can be helpful.

Try to make sure that your resume is always updated and accurately reflects your current employment. You can schedule periodic reviews to add any new skills, certifications, or awards you have earned. Keeping your resume content up-to-date can make the application process easier and quicker.


13. Using an over-the-top design

While each individual may be unique, a resume generally follows a standard format. There are many good resume templates and examples online. However, you’ll want to avoid templates with overly elaborate or common designs. Tailoring your resume to the specific industry and position is also critical. A creative resume may be suitable for a graphic designer, but it may not be ideal for an accountant. 

At the end of the day, focusing too much on creating an artsy resume could distract you from your main objective – demonstrating how your experiences and skill set aligns with the employer's needs. Keep in mind that hiring managers often have limited time to read your resume. By presenting a polished, professional resume that meets their expectations, you improve your chances of securing an interview.


14. Attaching the wrong file type

Incorrectly saving and exporting your resume can cause formatting problems, giving your resume an unprofessional look. You should never put your resume in a format that requires specific software to open. Choosing the wrong file type could also make your document harder to scan by the ATS. 

Instead, save and share your resume as a PDF. Sharing a document as a PDF prevents unauthorized editing. More importantly, this file type ensures that your document maintains its intended layout and design, regardless of the device used to view it. Because first impressions matter, this attention to detail can make a significant difference when applying for a job. 



Once you proofread your resume for these errors, you’re ready to attach it to the job application. Being a job seeker can feel overwhelming or even discouraging, but incorporating these resume suggestions can enhance your visibility during the job search. If you need help finding the perfect career in your major, consider consulting a career coach to help you find jobs or aid you in refining your resume.




💼When the recruiters see your perfect resume, you're bound to be called in for the next steps. Brush up on these 12 Things You Shouldn't Do in a Job Interview.

🔄Congrats! You landed the job. Now, make sure you know How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck.