Top 5 Resume Mistakes

Mistakes on a resume are viewed by employers as more than just an oversight of the job seeker. They can be used to quickly eliminate you from the pool of applicants. As the first impression you will make on an employer, investing time and energy into your resume is critical to job search success.  

1. Grammar and punctuation errors

Think about the underlying message communicated with typos, and with errors in grammar and punctuation. An employer can conclude that you are careless with any project you undertake. Translation: you'll be careless with the quality of your work if hired. It also suggests that you aren't interested enough in the job to take time to proofread, or - bottom line - that you aren't concerned with appearing professional.  

2. Poor formatting

Can't fit your resume to one page? Try something as simple as reducing your margins and font size. Margins of .7 and a font size of 10 or 11 point are recommended; not smaller than 10 point as it can be difficult to read. Use Times New Roman or Arial for best readability. Avoid italics, underlining, shading, borders, and graphics, so that your resume is scannable. You can use bold type and "all caps" to emphasize major headings, and bullets to emphasize Skills Summary statements. If you must go to two pages, put your name, phone number, and Page 2 as your header on the second page, and use a paper clip rather than staple.  

3. Failure to communicate knowledge and skills

Resumes that lack focus also say a lot about the job applicant. If you don't know what you have to offer, how can you convince an employer you're right for the job? Communicate key qualifications in both your Objective and in a Skills Summary of bulleted statements. Putting thought into your resume now is also preparing you to discuss your qualifications in the job interview later.  

4. Job descriptions that aren't descriptive

Don't minimize the importance of your job responsibilities. Careful wording shows the employer that you have both a depth of understanding of the nature of your responsibilities, as well as an appreciation of their importance to the overall goals of the department and organization. Think in terms of context and results - for whom/what you performed your duties, and for what purpose. Also, state any specific accomplishments that were outside the scope of your job description.  

5. Using pronouns and articles

Don't use pronouns such as "I", "me", or "he/she" in your resume. Avoid articles like "a", "an" and "the" as much as possible. Start with action verbs such as "assisted," "organized," "coordinated," and "developed" - high energy words that portray you as someone with initiative. When using present tense action verbs, don't use the third person tense such as "Organizes work for efficiency and results" - instead, say, "Organize work...." When using action verbs, your sentences won't be complete sentences from a grammatical standpoint, but this is acceptable on a resume.