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Resume Mistakes

Catch Mistakes on Your Resume

A well-crafted resume is your ticket to securing an interview and ultimately landing your dream job. It serves as your personal marketing tool, showcasing your skills, experiences, and achievements to potential employers.

However, even small mistakes on your resume can create a negative impression and cost you valuable opportunities.

By recognizing your mistakes and learning how to fix them, you can ensure your resume stands out for all the right reasons and increases your chances of success in the competitive job market.

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Top 12 Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s not a bad thing! However, when it comes to your resume and your all-important career goals, it’s crucial to catch yours before you send in your application.

Learn from your mistakes and improve your document with help from this list of the most common errors people make when writing their resumes.

1. Typos and Grammatical Errors

Accuracy is crucial on your resume, reflecting your attention to detail and professionalism.

Employers see typos and grammatical errors as carelessness, potentially leading them to overlook your resume.

Tips on Proofreading and Tools to Use:

          • Take a Break: Return with fresh eyes to catch errors.
          • Read Aloud: Identify awkward phrases and mistakes.
          • Use Tools: Utilize Grammarly, Hemingway, or built-in spell checkers.
          • Print It Out: Reading a physical copy can reveal errors.
          • Get Feedback: Ask someone else to review it.
          • Check for Consistency: Ensure consistent formatting, fonts, and styles.

2. Using an Unprofessional Email Address

Your email address sets the tone for your professionalism. An unprofessional email can undermine your credibility.

Examples of What to Avoid

          • Nicknames or Pseudonyms: Avoid names like “cooldude123@example.com.”
          • Inappropriate Terms: Steer clear of slang or jokes, e.g., “partyanimal@example.com.”
          • Complicated Numbers or Symbols: Avoid combinations like “johnsmith1987255@example.com.”

Examples of What to Use

          • Simple and Clear: Use variations of your name, e.g., “john.smith@example.com.”
          • Minimal Numbers: Use minimal numbers if needed, e.g., “john.smith123@example.com.”
          • Professional Providers: Use Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo.

3. Lack of Specificity

Vague descriptions can undermine your resume’s impact.

Employers need concrete evidence of your skills and achievements.

Why Vague Descriptions Hurt

          • Lack of Clarity: Employers may be uncertain about your capabilities.
          • Reduced Impact: Generic resumes are unimpressive.
          • Missed Opportunities: Specific details highlight achievements.

How To Be Specific

          • Quantify Achievements: Use numbers, e.g., “increased sales by 20%.”
          • Use Action Verbs: Start with verbs like “led” or “developed.”
          • Highlight Key Projects: Describe your role and outcomes.
          • Provide Context: Explain the situation, actions, and results.
          • Tailor to the Job Description: Highlight relevant experiences.

4. Irrelevant Information

Including irrelevant details can distract from your qualifications and take up valuable space on your resume.

This may lead to hiring managers or applicant tracking systems (ATS) ignoring your resume altogether!

Common Irrelevant Details

          • Hobbies and Personal Interests: Most are not relevant.
          • Outdated Skills and Experiences: Focus on current, relevant skills.
          • Personal Information: Exclude age, marital status, religious beliefs.
          • Excessive Early Career Details: Focus on recent roles.

Focusing on Relevance

          • Tailor to the Job Description: Highlight relevant skills and experiences.
          • Emphasize Recent Achievements: Focus on recent roles.
          • Highlight Transferable Skills: Emphasize skills relevant to the job.
          • Use Keywords: Incorporate keywords from the job posting.
          • Showcase Certifications: Include relevant certifications and training.

5. Poor Formatting

The formatting of your resume affects its readability and professionalism. It also helps highlight your most relevant skills and experience effectively.

Make sure to use standard resume formats so that you meet the employer’s expectations.

Impact of Poor Formatting

          • Distracts from Content: Overly creative formats can distract.
          • Reduces Readability: Cluttered resumes are hard to read.
          • Appears Unprofessional: Unconventional formats can be inappropriate.

Tips for Clean Formatting

          • Choose a Simple Layout: Use headers to organize information.
          • Readable Fonts: Use fonts like Arial or Calibri, 10-12 points.
          • Consistent Formatting: Maintain consistent fonts and bullet points.
          • White Space: Use white space to separate sections.
          • Limit Colors: Use minimal, professional colors.
          • Bullet Points: List achievements and responsibilities.
          • Consistent Margins: Use standard 1-inch margins.
          • Professional Templates: Use templates from reliable sources like Hloom.

6. Too Long or Too Short

Balancing detail and brevity is key. If your resume is too long, the ATS or hiring manager may not clearly see how you are qualified.

If your resume is too short, you’ll miss out on opportunities to underscore your value.

Ideal Length: 1-2 Pages

          • One Page: For recent graduates or early career professionals.
          • Two Pages: For mid-career or senior professionals with extensive experience.

Balancing Detail and Brevity

          • Prioritize Relevant Information: Focus on relevant experiences.
          • Be Selective: Avoid irrelevant jobs.
          • Use Bullet Points: Keep bullet points brief and clear.
          • Summarize Early Roles: Summarize early jobs briefly.
          • Quantify Achievements: Use metrics to convey impact.
          • Avoid Redundancy: Ensure each section adds new value.
          • Focus on Key Skills: Highlight core competencies.
          • Professional Summary: Provide a quick overview of key qualifications.
          • Edit Ruthlessly: Remove unnecessary details.

7. Using Clichés

Clichés make your resume blend in with other applicants.

If you want to stand out as an exceptional candidate, then you need to demonstrate your unique qualifications with the right language.

Overused Phrases to Avoid

          • “Team player”: Describe specific collaboration instances.
          • “Hard worker”: Highlight specific achievements.
          • “Results-oriented”: Provide concrete results.
          • “Dynamic”: Use precise adjectives.
          • “Self-starter”: Give examples of initiatives.
          • “Detail-oriented”: Illustrate attention to detail.
          • “Go-getter”: Describe actions taken.
          • “Synergize”: Focus on collaborative efforts.
          • “Outside the box”: Describe innovative solutions.
          • “Excellent communication skills”: Provide communication examples.

Use Strong Language

          • Quantify Achievements: Use numbers, e.g., “increased sales by 30%.”
          • Use Action Verbs: Start bullet points with strong verbs.
          • Be Specific: Provide specific details about your work.
          • Focus on Results: Highlight outcomes of efforts.
          • Tailor to Job Description: Use relevant language.
          • Showcase Unique Value: Highlight unique skills and experiences.

8. Not Tailoring the Resume to the Job

Customizing your resume is crucial. This is how you stand out with applicant tracking systems (ATS) and employers.

A tailored resume clearly demonstrates why you are the best candidate for the position.

Importance of Customization

          • Shows Attention to Detail: Demonstrates genuine interest.
          • Highlights Relevance: Emphasizes relevant skills.
          • Improves ATS Compatibility: Helps pass ATS screening.

Tips for Tailoring Content

          • Analyze the Job Description: Understand key requirements.
          • Use Relevant Keywords: Incorporate job-specific keywords.
          • Match Skills to Needs: Highlight relevant skills.
          • Adjust Professional Summary: Reflect job-specific qualifications.
          • Reorder Bullet Points: Prioritize relevant achievements.
            Showcase Relevant
          • Achievements: Use specific examples.
          • Customize Job Titles: Align titles with job responsibilities.
          • Tailor Skills Section: Focus on relevant skills.
          • Adjust Formatting: Highlight relevant information.

9. Omitting Key Information

Include all essential information for a complete profile of your abilities. If you omit key information, you’ll be left looking like an unqualified candidate.

Essential Sections

          • Contact Information: Name, phone number, professional email, LinkedIn.
          • Work Experience: Job titles, companies, locations, dates, responsibilities.
          • Education: Institutions, degrees, graduation dates.
          • Certifications and Training: Relevant certifications and training.

Importance of Keywords

          • ATS Compatibility: Helps pass initial screening.
          • Relevance: Tailors resume to the role.
          • Highlighting Qualifications: Emphasizes relevant skills.

Tips for Including Keywords

          • Analyze Job Description: Identify key skills and qualifications.
          • Incorporate Naturally: Integrate keywords naturally.
          • Use in Multiple Sections: Include in summary, experience, skills.

10. Failing to Include a Cover Letter

A cover letter complements your resume by providing context about your qualifications.

Additionally, it allows you to showcase your personality to help make you more unique. A cover letter is a great opportunity to underscore your passion for the position as well.

Why a Cover Letter Complements a Resume

          • Provides Context: Explains interest and links skills to the job.
          • Showcases Personality: Conveys enthusiasm and communication skills.
          • Addresses Specifics: Covers specific points and explains gaps.
          • Demonstrates Effort: Shows genuine interest and effort.

Tips for an Effective Cover Letter

          • Tailor It to the Job: Customize for each application.
          • Start Strong: Grab attention with a compelling opening.
          • Highlight Key Qualifications: Focus on relevant qualifications.
          • Show Enthusiasm: Express genuine interest in the company.
          • Keep It Concise: Stay within one page.
          • Use a Professional Tone: Maintain formality.
          • Include a Call to Action: Encourage next steps.
          • Proofread Carefully: Ensure error-free content.
          • Format Appropriately: Match resume format.

11. Including Too Much Personal Information

Exclude unnecessary personal details to maintain professionalism and keep your resume focused on your qualifications.

Personal Details to Exclude

          • Age or Date of Birth: Irrelevant and can lead to bias.
          • Marital Status: Irrelevant to job performance.
            Religious or Political
          • Affiliations: Not professionally relevant.
          • Social Security Number: Never include for security reasons.
          • Photographs: Often unnecessary and can lead to bias.
          • Physical Characteristics: Irrelevant to qualifications.
          • Personal Hobbies and Interests: Unless relevant, omit.

Importance of Privacy and Professionalism

          • Protecting Privacy: Avoid exposing sensitive information.
          • Maintaining Professionalism: Focus on qualifications.
          • Avoiding Bias: Prevent unconscious bias.
          • Focusing on Relevance: Highlight job-relevant skills.

Tips for Maintaining Privacy and Professionalism

          • Use a Professional Email: Ensure appropriateness.
          • Limit Contact Information: Include only essential details.
          • Professional Summary: Highlight key qualifications.
          • Relevant Skills and Experience: Focus on pertinent information.
          • Professional Tone: Maintain formality.

12. Not Showcasing Soft Skills

Soft skills are crucial for workplace success and should be highlighted to show your ability to work with others. Additionally, soft skills show good work habits that employers seek.

Importance of Soft Skills

          • Enhanced Collaboration: Facilitate teamwork.
          • Improved Problem-Solving: Aid in tackling challenges.
          • Leadership Potential: Important for managerial roles.
          • Customer Relations: Vital for client interaction.
          • Adaptability: Valued in dynamic environments.

Tips for Highlighting Soft Skills

          • Incorporate in Summary: Mention key soft skills.
          • Provide Examples: Demonstrate application in work experience.
          • Use Action Verbs: Highlight with verbs like “collaborated” and “mentored.”
          • Highlight in Skills Section: Include relevant soft skills.
          • Quantify Impact: Use metrics to show effectiveness.
          • Include Certifications: Mention relevant training.
          • Tailor to Job Description: Align with job-specific skills.
          • Use Testimonials: Include quotes from reviews or recommendations.

Key Takeaways

          • Typos and grammatical errors can reflect poorly on your attention to detail and professionalism. Use tools like Grammarly, read aloud, and get feedback from others to ensure accuracy.
          • An unprofessional email can undermine your credibility. Use a simple, clear email with your name and avoid nicknames or inappropriate terms.
          • Vague descriptions can weaken your resume’s impact. Use quantifiable achievements, action verbs, and context to provide concrete evidence of your skills and contributions.
          • Including irrelevant details like outdated skills or personal information can distract from your qualifications. Focus on recent, relevant experiences and tailor your resume to the job description.
          • A well-formatted resume enhances readability and professionalism. Use a simple layout, readable fonts, consistent formatting, and professional templates to present a polished document.


Updated: June 12, 2024

Proofreading your resume is crucial because typos and grammatical errors can reflect poorly on your attention to detail and professionalism.

Employers may see these mistakes as a sign of carelessness, potentially leading them to overlook your application.

Using tools like Grammarly, reading aloud, and asking others to review your resume can help catch errors and ensure accuracy.

Your email address should be professional and straightforward, ideally using your name. Avoid nicknames, slang, or humorous terms.

For example, use “john.smith@example.com” instead of “cooldude123@example.com.” Using reputable email providers like Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo also adds to your professional appearance.

To make your resume more specific, use quantifiable achievements and action verbs. Instead of vague descriptions, provide concrete evidence of your skills and contributions.

For example, say “increased sales by 20% in six months” instead of “responsible for sales.” Tailor your resume to the job description, highlighting relevant experiences and accomplishments.

Exclude personal details that are irrelevant to your job qualifications, such as age, marital status, religious beliefs, and social security number.

Avoid listing outdated skills, excessive early career details, and hobbies unless they are directly relevant to the job. Focus on recent, pertinent experiences and skills that align with the job you are applying for.

Use a clean, straightforward layout with clearly defined sections. Choose professional, easy-to-read fonts like Arial or Calibri in 10-12 points. Maintain consistent formatting throughout, including fonts, bullet points, and spacing.

Use adequate white space to separate sections and limit the use of colors to minimal, professional shades. Consider using professional resume templates from reliable sources like Hloom.

The ideal resume length is 1-2 pages. One page is typically sufficient for recent graduates or early career professionals.

Two pages may be appropriate for mid-career or senior professionals with extensive experience or specialized roles. Focus on relevant information and avoid including every job you’ve ever held.

A cover letter complements your resume by providing context and a personal touch. It allows you to elaborate on your qualifications, explain your interest in the position, and showcase your enthusiasm and communication skills.

A tailored cover letter demonstrates your commitment to the application process and can help set you apart from other candidates.

Highlight soft skills by incorporating them into your professional summary and providing specific examples in your work experience section. Use action verbs like “collaborated” and “mentored” to illustrate your soft skills. Include a dedicated skills section listing both hard and soft skills relevant to the job.

Where possible, quantify the impact of your soft skills with metrics and include relevant certifications or training.

ATS are automated systems used by many companies to screen resumes. To pass through an ATS, incorporate keywords from the job description naturally into your resume. Focus on specific hard skills, job titles, and industry terminology.

Ensure your resume is ATS-friendly, well-formatted, and free of errors to increase its chances of being read by human recruiters.

Regularly update your resume, especially when you gain new skills, experiences, or certifications. It’s a good practice to review and revise your resume every six months or after completing significant projects or job roles.

Keeping your resume current ensures you are always ready to apply for new opportunities.


Conor McMahon, CPRW
Conor McMahon, CPRW
Content Writer

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for Hloom.com. He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

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