10 Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job

In Job Search
February 12, 2016

Resume Mistakes - 10 Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job

A good resume can land you a job, but a bad one can keep you from even landing an interview. Make sure you avoid common resume mistakes so you can have a better chance of getting a job.

Crafting a great resume isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. With a little research and time, you can make a concise, well-thought-out document that can help your chances of getting a job. A ton of people make the same mistakes on their resumes. People try to cram too much information into their resume and forget that they can use a cover letter to detail some of their information and highlight their attributes. Instead, they try to use a resume to do everything and it either makes it too long or doesn’t detail the writer’s most important details.

A resume is your chance at a great first impression, but also, your chance to show how you can help a company. It really is key to couple your resume with a great cover letter to detail yourself and paint a fuller picture of who you are as an employee and person.

We wanted to help people with their resumes, but rather than detailing how to write a resume, we decided to list the most common resume mistakes so you know what to avoid. You can craft a better the document when you know what should not go on it as much as you know what should.

10 Most Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid:

1. No Cover Letter

You would probably be surprised at the number of people who don’t use cover letters. Some people think that it is just an added thing they don’t want to do, so they avoid it. They don’t understand that it is a tool to add to their resume.

With a cover letter, you have a full-page where you can detail your expertise and show your employer what you’ve done that can help their business. It is a chance for you to introduce yourself and highlight your best characteristics. A resume should show what you’ve done through work experience and skills. The cover letter is your chance to build up your story.

This is your first and best sales tool to detail your goals and show them why you would be a great fit for their company. Don’t skip it and make sure you write a new one for every job you apply for.

2. No Creativity / Too Much

There is a fine line sometimes between being creative with your resume and showing too much creativity. You want your resume to stand out, but not because it is pink and scented.

As a rule, it’s best to use creativity to format your resume instead of using a template you find in Word or Pages. The best way to show some creativity is to create your own spacing and margins and do something with your title line that includes your personal info.

If you apply for a creative job like design or something in art, you can get more elaborate. But for regular people, just messing with the formats, fonts (but stick with one throughout), and margins should be enough. Just don’t go too crazy. You’ll need to use your best judgment depending on the job you’re applying for. An overly flowery resume will get trashed the same as a dull, Word-template one will.

3. Including an Objective Statement

The objective statement is dead. Don’t use it anymore. An objective statement kills your chances at other positions because it shows you are just interested in one specific area. Objective statements are outdated and can potentially make a hiring manager think you aren’t interested in any other job.

Writing a professional summary is a better alternative. If you write a professional summary, it shows who you are and what you bring to the table, but doesn’t limit you to one specific field. A professional summary just shows what you are a pro at, but that you are flexible and can grow into whatever area is best for the company. It’s definitely a good alternative if you’re looking for some type of alternative headline. Just write who you are and what you offer and you’ll be fine.

4. Failing to Edit Properly

I know this seems crazy, but people don’t edit. Some people don’t even re-read their document. They dread the process so much, that when it’s written, that’s it. They attach it to an email, or print it, and send it on its way. But not editing is one of the best ways to get your resume thrown in the trash (where it probably belongs).

If you went to school for any amount of time, you should know to look back over your document and see if you missed anything or misspelled any words. It’s a pretty simple process since we have the internet to help us with literally anything we need. There is even a sweet program called Grammarly that can edit for you while you type.

It’s amazing. You don’t even really have to know how to spell or write these days because the internet can practically do it for you. So, you really have no excuse. Edit your documents before you send them off for people to read.

5. Your Resume is Too Long

Making a resume too long isn’t good. Being too wordy and having big paragraphs can hurt your resume. If you have a ton of experience and jobs, you can make it two pages, but you better make sure you only use the information that matters. If you just put fluff jobs and stuff that’s not relevant, then it will hurt your document and just take up space.

If you don’t have a lot of experience, it’s good to add a little more detailed and try to stretch it out to at least 3/4 of a page. But either way, try not to use too much fluff and don’t add stuff that doesn’t matter. Try to write the experiences and skills that best fit the new job. Also, list your best jobs. If there are jobs you hated or didn’t learn anything from, you can leave those out, but try not to have long unexplainable gaps in employment and always list your most current job first.

6. Your Resume is Dense

One of the most common resume mistakes is dense, long sentences in resumes. People think that they have to make these convoluted sentences littered with flowery language just because they need a job. People try to impress hiring managers with their professional sounding vocabulary, but it tends turns more people off than impress. One of the best things to do is sound professional but use words you would normally use. Don’t try to be something you’re not, and don’t try to sound unnatural– it will show.

Using all these convoluted words and big sentences makes your document hard to read. When people have to crawl through thick sludgy sentences just to see why they should hire you, they will just throw your resume away and move on to the next one. Simply articulate to them how you can help their company and why you would be a good fit, and move on.

7. Too Much Personal Information

Sometimes job seekers put too much personal information on their resumes. Unless putting that you are an avid mountain biker will benefit the company in some way, it’s probably best to leave that out. If you do put hobbies or interests on your resume, do it strategically so that it highlights some skill set or shows how you can bring something extra to the company.

Just putting that you like to sip mimosas while hanging out with your 10 cats may come off as a little weird and not really show any added value to the company. Remember to keep it professional and don’t talk too much about your personal life. You’re trying to score a job, not new friends.

8. Irrelevant Information

This is one of the most common resume mistakes people fresh out of school make. Many people put irrelevant jobs and information on their resumes that companies don’t really care about. A college professor told me that after college, it’s best to not even put any college jobs on your resume and especially none from high school.

It is good to put professional experiences and skills you gained in college and to count your time in college towards your years of experience in a field. Technically, if you spent the last two years of your college career focusing heavily on marketing or something, then you already have two years experience in that field. Your job at Papa Johns won’t matter so much to a company if you show them the good stuff you learned through college.

But, if you gained great skills through a job like PJs, then write it down. I’m just talking about irrelevant stuff here. you can spin any experience or job to fit your needs in some way. You’ll just have to be creative. But as a rule, don’t include any job from high school, and it’s probably safe to say you can leave out any job you haven’t worked in the last 5 years. This is one of the easiest CV errors to avoid, so don’t fall victim!

9. Including “References Available on Request”

They know you have references, and if you don’t have references, you need to get some. Don’t tell hiring managers your references are available on request. It’s just a weird way to end a resume and you shouldn’t do it. Either put down a couple of people they can call, or leave it out.

It should be good enough to include the numbers of past employers where you list your jobs. If they need anything beyond that, they can ask for them.

10. Failing to Use Relevant Keywords

This is a killer, especially if you post your resume online. Now, job sites have algorithms that sort your resume by job, keywords, and relevance. That means if you’re not using the right keywords, your resume is sitting in some dump pile that isn’t categorized correctly and nobody sees it.

You’ll want to put the best keywords in your resume that fit your job title and the job you want. Managers can search through databases by these words and pull up the resumes that have them in the document. So if you’re looking for a marketing job, but you don’t put marketing anywhere in your resume, that’s not good.

You definitely want to optimize your document for the best visibility online and using keywords is the best way to do that. Now, we aren’t suggesting you spam your resume with a ton of keywords or write the same one over and over, but if you strategically place a few good keywords in your document a few good times, then you will increase your visibility and help your odds of getting a call for an interview.


If you follow these tips, you should increase your odds of at least landing an interview. The job market is hard, so you need all the help you can get. Just make sure you have a good document that is well formatted, written, edited, and shows how you can help the company. If you do those things, you should get a call. If not, don’t sweat it; see where you can improve and move on to the next. Just make sure you keep do your research and craft thoughtful cover letters and great resumes to highlight why you are the best one for the job.

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