The 10 Most Common Resume Mistakes

The 10 Most Common Resume Mistakes

Terry and I review resumes often and we find a lot of the same mistakes. Unfortunately, good resume etiquette is not as widespread as one would assume and too many people miss out on great opportunities because they don’t have anyone to guide them in the right direction. To begin your process of updating and perfecting your resume, here are some common resume mistakes you should avoid to prevent being screened out.

1. Funky font, size, or color

Where you stand out in your resume, is not your font. Different colored fonts, not having a consistent font throughout (signs of copy and paste), and playful fonts look unprofessional, make a resume harder to read, and will likely be tossed without reading. When it comes to fonts, keep it simple and save the creativity for describing your previous work experiences.

2. Distracting format

Similar to the font, when it comes to formatting a resume, less is more. It does not need to be an elaborative design, but spacing and alignment should be uniform throughout the entire resume and set in a way that does not look too crowded or too bare.

3. Forgetting to include statistical data (percentages and numbers)

Providing numbers gives employers tangible facts to better understand what exactly you did in your previous job and how effectively you did it. This also helps them gage if you will be able to handle the scope of the work in their current opening.

4. Weak action verbs: Handled, managed, responsible for….boring!

The verbs you use in your resume need to pack a punch to intrigue potential employers. Remember that you are submitting this resume to someone who looks at resumes all of the time so use your verbs as your opportunity to stand out. Check here for some alternative action verb suggestions to get your resume makeover started.

5. Sharing what you were responsible for and not what you uniquely accomplished

Stating that you were responsible for x, y, and z does not tell someone what you successfully executed in your time at a company, it tells them your job description. Employers want to know that hiring you will add value to the work they are pursuing, so your language has to demonstrate how you have done that in the past. Think results not responsibilities.

6. Sharing too much

In other words, nobody cares where you attended high school or where you worked while there (Unless you’re still in undergrad. In that case, make that money child!). Also, most short-term employment is unnecessary unless it was a relevant temporary position or fellowship. As you gain more valuable experiences, be sure to take off the less valuable ones.

7. Unprofessional Email address

Need I say more? It’s a little hard to take you serious when I have to email you at,, or Keep it simple. Use some combination of your first and last name. Gmail is free, easy, and won’t make anyone second guess you work etiquette.

8. Company specific jargon

If I said to you, “Resorted the downstocks and resells,” do you know what I’m talking about? Probably not. Good vocabulary good, company specific vocabulary bad. I understand wanting to be intriguing and sound really cool, but we also don’t want the employer to not have any clue what you’re talking about or worse, think you’re making stuff up, like I did just now.

9. Tense and pronouns

Who did what and when? In your resume you do not need to use the word “I.” It’s clear that you are the ‘who’ that did everything on the paper so you can leave that out. In terms of tense, if you get confused ask yourself when the events in question happened? If you’re still working for the organization or company, stay in the present tense. If this is a previous position, stay in the past tense.

10. “References available upon request.”

I know we all like to feel fancy and use the word “upon,” but this line is no longer necessary. Employers know they can request your references, if they haven’t already in the application process. Delete it and now you have an extra line to describe that project you managed!

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