8 Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid

Josh Didawick

8 Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid

A resume can be viewed as an important tool or a necessary evil. Either way you look at it, your resume is probably going to be the document that gets your foot in the door for an interview. Unfortunately, there are lots of great candidates who either do not do a good enough job telling their story or trip up in other ways, resulting in their resume getting passed over.

After all, you are interested in being a good employee or making contributions in your next position; you may not necessarily be an expert resume writer. You should know going into the selection process that most recruiters and hiring managers have the luxury of being very selective.

Here are 8 common resume mistakes to avoid when submitting your CV for that next position. Avoiding these errors could mean the difference between getting on the short list and finding your way into the circular file.

Not Connecting Your Duties to the Mission

It is easy to write down a list of tasks, duties and responsibilities on a resume. The question becomes, “Why were those important?” Even if you had a job that you think most people know about, chances are most people know very little. Your work experience section is your opportunity to explain not only what you did, but why it mattered to the organization’s mission. This not only communicates your knowledge, skills and abilities, but it also demonstrates that you have an understanding and perspective greater than your singular role.

Not Being Results-Oriented

Perhaps more important than what you did and why it mattered are the results of those actions. What were the positive results of all your efforts and how can you show them? Whether you increased sales, decreased defects or helped contribute to the company’s bottom line or market share, be sure to back up your achievements with numbers. We are in a data-driven world.

Be clear about what your role was, but make sure you list your achievements and back them up with concrete metrics. Whether you reduced machine downtime by 3 days per month or increased production by 12 units per week, concrete examples like these will jump off the page to a recruiter.

Not Communicating Your Passion

In many jobs the applicants have similar knowledge, skills and abilities. If you are applying to a position that you really want, make sure your passion shines through in your resume. Whether it is for the industry, the company, that specific job or your prospective customers, you can set yourself ahead of the pack simply by explaining why it means so much to you.

If someone is comparing people with similar backgrounds, but one candidate’s resume is sterile and the other candidate’s desire reaches out and grabs them, who do you think they will want to hire?

Not Including Contact Information

Employers have to be able to reach you in order to contact you for a screening or regular interview. Be sure to include your contact information somewhere in the header or footer. Even if you are completing an employment application online, the hiring manager may not always have the same information as HR or the recruiter. At minimum, include your name, email address and the best phone number to reach you.


I do not subscribe to a recommended resume length. Many will disagree with me and say a resume should be no longer than a page, two pages at the most. Two pages is probably a good rule of thumb for a lot of people, but if it takes three pages and the information is valuable, so be it. The key point here is that the information must be valuable.

If you are fresh out of college with little working experience, a page is probably sufficient.

The other thing to pay attention to in your resume is the font, size of the font and spacing of the document. A lot of resumes can be tightened up simply by making the spacing and font crisper and easier to read.

Including References

Unless the job posting requests references, it is not necessary to include references with your resume. Again, in most cases you are going to also be completing an employment application at some point in the process, and that document will usually ask for references.

Spelling and Grammatical Errors

The fastest way to have your resume discarded is to have it riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. It sends the wrong message whether the job you are seeking requires writing skills or not. Take extra care in reviewing and editing the content.

Better yet, have someone proof read your resume to make sure it passes the spelling and grammar test.

Not Keeping Your Resume Current

A resume is somewhat of a living document. As your career grows and progresses, so will your resume. Do yourself a favor and keep it up to date. Even if you are in the same job you will want to go back to your resume every few months, or once a year, to add new responsibilities and achievements that you have picked up since the last version.

Doing this on a regular basis not only keeps your resume current, but it is also a good development tool for you to strategize around your job. If you keep going back to your resume and have nothing to add, it may be time to make a change or take on some new responsibilities.

You don’t necessarily have to pay a lot of money (or any money) for someone to write your resume. If you lack confidence in your resume writing abilities, maybe it would be worthwhile to work with someone to craft your document. However, what may be more valuable is for you to have a few people review your resume and give you feedback. Find colleagues or mentors that have done recruiting or hired people and get their thoughts. Identify people inside and outside your organization so you get well-rounded feedback. No matter how you start out feeling about your resume, make sure to turn it into that important tool that gets you in the door.

About The Author

Josh Didawick

Josh Didawick is a seasoned HR professional and consultant with extensive experience creating and guiding organizations’ HR strategies, as well as coaching individuals committed to successful careers. He specializes in taking on complex organizational issues to affect positive change and high performance. For individuals, Josh helps them put their best foot forward when seeking that next career, promotion or milestone in the workplace. Josh has had several articles published and presented at conferences on HR-related topics.

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