15 Resume Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 14, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated July 14, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

Related: Resume Tips: Avoid These 8 Mistakes

In this video, Holl shares the 8 most common resume mistakes and provides tips and strategies on how to write a winning resume.

When searching for a job, your resume is an important factor for a potential employer to determine your fit for the role. Learning about some of the common challenges and mistakes in writing a resume can help you create a more compelling document that hiring managers will want to read. In this article, learn about 15 of the most common resume mistakes and how to avoid them.

What is included on a resume?

Typically, resumes can follow a general format of summarizing your professional profile, your work history, your education and any volunteering or internship experience you have.

When writing your resume, you might consider keeping with this layout as well as including skills relevant to the job you are applying to. It is common to include lists of accomplishments both within your professional and educational background sections. Your resume should also include your current contact information as well as a professional email address.

Read more: 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Job

Common resume mistakes and how to avoid them

The following list highlights common resume errors that can be easy to avoid if you follow a resume template, check for grammatical errors and stick to details that are relevant to the position you are applying for:

  1. Including a resume objective instead of a professional profile

  2. Unrelated work experience

  3. Not providing enough detail

  4. No references or too many references

  5. Irrelevant skills to the job role

  6. Using the same resume for all your applications

  7. Outdated or missing contact information

  8. Describing job duties rather than professional accomplishments

  9. Resume is too long or too short

  10. Grammatical and formatting errors

  11. Using an unprofessional email address

  12. Including salary requirements

  13. Overly used vocabulary or jargon

  14. Listing hobbies unrelated to the job

  15. Attaching a photo of yourself

1. Including a resume objective instead of a professional profile

Be sure to include a brief professional profile. If you have limited work experience, include your career objectives but relate how achieving your professional goal can benefit the company you are interested in working for.

While resume objectives can be important and show how you set career goals, potential employers are looking for what you can do for them and how you will fit the role. Your professional profile serves this purpose. A resume or career objective only highlights what you hope to accomplish. If you must include your career objective, connect it to the business and how accomplishing your goals will apply to the job.

2. Unrelated work experience

When writing your resume, list work experience and skills that are quantitative and specifically related to the position you are applying to. Your work experience should showcase your skills and achievements that the hiring manager can see you bringing to their own organization. If your past roles appear unrelated, you might consider listing just the skills and accomplishments that can be relevant to the job rather than all the responsibilities that you had.

For instance, if you are applying to a customer service role, but your experience is limited to working as a cashier, instead of listing details about running a register, you might highlight how you interacted with and helped customers.

3. Not providing enough detail

Typically, when professional experience is listed on a resume, it should include three to five details that showcase how you were successful in your last role. Including less detail than this may cause a potential employer to look past your resume as vague detail may not give them enough evidence to show why you are a good fit for their organization. Consider your wording, as using action verbs that show what you have accomplished can help ensure you are providing enough information about your skills.

Related: Action Verbs To Make Your Resume Stand out

4. No references or too many references

Omitting your professional references could potentially cause employers to pass up your application, but having too many references can also impact how your employer views your resume. Typically, most employers might look for two to three professional references. In addition to including the appropriate number of references, be sure your connections are individuals with whom you have interacted in a professional setting.

You might include past colleagues, supervisors or clients that can offer positive feedback about your work ethic or other information should your potential employer contact them. Additionally, avoid using family or personal acquaintances as your professional references. Similarly, if you are leaving out a reference section, avoid stating that you will provide them upon request. This statement can appear redundant to a potential employer.

5. Irrelevant skills to the job role

Much like listing unrelated work experience, listing skills that are irrelevant to the job can result in a hiring manager overlooking your application. You can avoid this mishap by including your skills that can be directly applied to the job role. For example, if you have computer skills that can be applied to a job in data entry, you may highlight that in your resume. Conversely, if you have customer service skills but you are applying for a role as a production worker where customer contact is not part of the job, you might want to leave out those skills.

Read more: Listing Professional Experience on Your Resume

6. Using the same resume for all your applications

When submitting job applications, it is important to format your resume so that it relates specifically to the job you are applying for. If you use a generic resume or the same resume for every job application you submit, you may appear lazy or unconcerned about the job. You can avoid this mistake by adjusting your resume to fit each job description. It may mean a little bit more work, but writing a targeted resume can allow potential employers to truly get a sense of how you will fit the position.

7. Outdated or missing contact information

Ensure all your contact information is up to date. Your phone number should be reachable, and your address should be your current place of residence. Should you revisit a previous resume after some time, be sure you revise your contact information to reflect any changes you have since made like moving or switching cell phone carriers.

8. Describing job duties rather than professional accomplishments

Job duties can be shared among related fields, but your accomplishments are professional endeavors that can allow employers to see how you will benefit their company as well as how dedicated you are to your work. While you may include a specific and relevant job duty or task you were responsible for, connect those details to an achievement that can show the hiring manager how your work performance directly influenced and benefited your past employers.

9. Resume is too long or too short

Resumes generally stick to one or two pages at most, so having one be either too short or long can have a negative impact on how a potential employer perceives you. If you have an extensive work history, you might format your resume in two pages or less, but if you are a fresh graduate or have limited professional experience, it can be more effective to stick to one page for your resume.

10. Grammatical and formatting errors

It is imperative to scan and correct any spelling, grammar or punctuation errors before submitting your resume. Likewise, you might want to make sure you have formatted your resume in a professional manner with clean lines and a clear and readable font, as well as ensuring you haven't made your resume too elaborate. You might also avoid bright colors that can take the focus away from the content in your resume. Consider a basic font like Times New Roman or Arial, and stick with black ink. Grammar checkers can help ensure your resume is ready to submit.

Related: Best Font for a Resume: How To Choose Type and Size

11. Using an unprofessional email address

Use a professional-looking email address, such as one with your first and last name or a variation of it. An unprofessional email address can be highly inappropriate if it contains profane or provocative language. If you have yet to set up a professional-looking email address, you should consider doing so just for correspondence about your job applications. When you include your updated professional email address, your resume will appear formal and professional.

12. Including salary requirements

You might be seeking a specific minimum salary, however, including this detail within your resume may not be an effective choice. Doing so may potentially turn off an employer, especially if they cannot offer the amount you are looking for. The most effective way to avoid this mistake is to leave it out of your resume completely. Salary is often discussed during an interview or within a cover letter, so it can be a good idea to omit a salary requirement on your resume.

13. Overly used vocabulary or jargon

Just as providing an endless list of job experience and skills can become redundant and risk losing an employer's attention, using jargon or vocabulary that is repetitive can potentially detract from the information you are trying to describe. Stick with actionable words that can show employers what you mean, and avoid using cliche phrases and outdated vocabulary that may take away from the focus on how you can fit the job you are applying for.

Read more: Words To Avoid and Include on a Resume

14. Listing hobbies unrelated to the job

If your hobbies can be related to the job role, such as participating in weekly fundraiser events for a nonprofit organization, you might include a brief section showcasing this. However, if your hobbies consist of playing golf on the weekends, you might consider avoiding listing hobbies altogether. Potential employers tend to look past your hobbies in any case, but listing how you like to collect stamps can risk a hiring manager rejecting your application completely. Unless it can show how your personal interests relate to and benefit your career path, it may be wise to leave these out.

15. Attaching a photo of yourself

While some industries may find it acceptable to include a headshot on a resume⁠—like acting or modeling⁠—it may not be in your best interest to include your photo on your resume. Not only will a photo take up space, but it also risks employers passing over your application so they can avoid the distraction of appearances. Employers may commonly bypass resumes with photos because they may not want to risk being interpreted as discriminating based on appearance.

While these common mistakes may be easily remedied, you might consider having a friend or family member read over your resume to help ensure you have avoided any errors. This way, you can be certain that you are submitting the most professional version of your resume.

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