20 Common Mistakes to Avoid on Your Resume and How to Fix Them

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

It isn't easy to find a job in this day and age. Many people with similar backgrounds apply for the same position, which makes it hard to stand out from the crowd.


One way you can make yourself more competitive is by making sure your resume is up-to-date and error-free. Mistakes on your resume might not seem like a big deal at first glance, but they will haunt you if employers decide to rule you out due to some common resume mistakes.


From incorrect spelling to generic applications, we'll cover 20 common mistakes made on resumes and ways to fix them. Read this list of resume mistakes to avoid and learn how you can avoid traps other job seekers frequently fall in!


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Mistake #1: Typos


Typos, grammatical errors and missing words are all types of mistakes that can be made on a resume.


They may seem like minor details that shouldn't make any difference if you're qualified for the job.


However, these errors can make you appear unprofessional to the employer and cause your application to be ignored or rejected.


How to fix it?


Don't immediately submit your resume after you have put the last word into it. If possible, let it sit for a day and then re-read it.


After working on any document for a while, it's easy to overlook a typo or two, so giving yourself some time to start fresh when re-reading it gives you a chance to spot some mistakes.


Read your resume multiple times to make sure it's error-free.


To be safe, you can use a proofreading tool like Grammarly to check your language, grammar and punctuation and ensure your resume is spot on.* Alternatively, share it with a friend or a family member and ask for feedback.



 


Mistake #2: Outdated or incorrect contact information


Believe it or not, one of the common resume mistakes is failing to include an up-to-date and correct email address and phone number.


Including this information will allow employers to contact you if they are interested in your application. If the contact information on your resume is not accurate and they cannot reach you, the chances are they will skip your application and move forward with other candidates.


How to fix it?


Thankfully, this is one of the resume mistakes that has an easy, quick fix.


Double-check your contact details and make sure they are correct. If unsure, let someone else take a look and confirm it for you.



 


Mistake #3: Unprofessional email address


Your email address is a necessary part of your contact details, and it plays a huge role in how employers perceive you in the very first seconds they open your resume, so it deserves a special mention on this list.


Email addresses that contain any words that can be deemed offensive, inappropriate or even cute and funny should be taken off a resume. Also, emails that contain numbers indicating your age also don't work well either.


Basically, anything that sounds like an email address for dating sites or that you selected 15 years ago when you were created your first email address is off-limits.


Additionally, never include your current work email address. From the future employer's perspective, it shows disrespect to your current employer, which is always a red flag.


How to fix it?


If your current email address is inappropriate, create a new email address.


Straightforward email addresses with only your name and surname are the best, so create a new email address for job searching purposes if needed.


It's a simple yet effective thing that helps make a great first impression and position yourself as a professional right from the start.



 


Mistake #4: Too much personal information


Your resume is a professional document.


Even though hobbies or personal interests can be added to your resume if appropriate, your job application shouldn't be filled with irrelevant personal details that shift the focus away from your work experience and skills.


Unless it is specifically asked for in the job posting, your nationality, religion, marital status, weight, height and other personal details shouldn't be a part of your resume.


How to fix it?


Go through your resume and see if there are any personal details that don't say anything about your competencies.


Unless the employer requests them, keep the information about your personal appearance, religion, political views, or marital status off your resume.



 


Mistake #5: Outdated and pointless personal objective


Personal objectives were once used on resumes to indicate a person's desired position. Over time, they became overused, too generic and vague.


Simply put, everyone used almost the same sentence to say that they are a good fit for the job they are applying for and that they are interested in stepping into this role (which is obvious from the fact you've submitted your application).


How to fix it?


Replace a personal objective with a brief, tailored and specific career summary or personal statement.


Avoid cliché sentences like "A hard-working and driven professional looking for a job that allows me to develop further".


Instead, try something more targeted, such as "Data-driven and creative <current title> looking to step into <position> and contribute to <company> with my collaborative, creative and innovative approach to work".


Learn more about writing a powerful personal statement.



 


Mistake #6: Using 'I' statements throughout a resume


Using first-person pronouns on a resume frequently sounds repetitive, causes noise and comes across as you-centric. If all your statements start with "I", such as "It is my goal to…" or "My ambition is...", consider changing the content of your resume to make it sound more neutral.


It's your resume. Even if you don't add one single 'I' to it, employers will understand you're talking about your experience.


How to fix it?


Go through your resume and use the first person implied method -- remove the first person pronoun, and start with an action verb instead.


Wherever you have written 'I', 'my' or 'me', delete the pronoun and rephrase the sentence if needed to make it work without these fillers.


For example, if one of your bullet points is 'I helped create the marketing campaign for XYZ Company and led its execution from start to finish', skip 'I' and jump to the action verb 'Helped create the marketing campaign for XYZ Company and led its execution from start to finish'.


Some candidates use third-person pronouns (he, she or it; or referring to themselves by their name) to avoid the first-person pronouns that make them feel like they're bragging or beating their drum.


However, a resume written in third-person isn’t as dynamic as one written in first-person. And it sounds rather awkward. Trust us; your resume is so much better written in the first person implied style.


It may seem like a minor detail on this one example, but if you avoid using pronouns throughout the document, it will change the voice of your resume and make it sound more professional, active and action-oriented.



 


Mistake #7: Vague career summary


A career summary at the top of your resume is a crucial part of your job application. It should be a concise, high-level career overview that captures the attention and interest of a hiring manager by providing a snapshot of the most relevant qualifications for the position.


A common resume mistake is writing something generic such as 'Looking for a new challenge'.


To employers, a sentence like this is a red flag as they assume that the same version of a resume is sent to dozens of other companies. Instantly, it makes the job applicant come across as not motivated enough to put time and effort into tailoring a resume.


How to fix it?


Instead of sending a generic resume with a vague career summary that can fit a variety of positions, but is not tailored to any of them, take some time to read the job ad and customize your career summary to the position in question.


Use our career summary template to write a powerful, tailored career summary in minutes.


Since this is one of the first things employers see on a resume, a strong and tailored career summary can have a transformative impact on your resume. Making this change can skyrocket your success in a job search, as it will help your job applications more efficiently convert into interview invitations.



 


Mistake #8: Unclear, inconsistent or missing employment dates


Adding employment dates is a mandatory part of a work experience section in a resume. Employers want and need to know how long you have been employed at the previous companies.


The dates should be written in a clear and concise manner, using months and years.


Surprisingly, unclear, inconsistent or missing employment dates are common resume mistakes. If there are any inconsistencies or missing data, employers may assume you are hiding something and interpret it as a red flag which can decrease chances of being called in for interviews.


How to fix it?


Review dates in your resume. Follow the timeline and see if there are any issues with inconsistent or missing information. If so, fix it and update as soon as possible.


If there are any gaps in your work history due to career breaks, address them. Employers will wonder what happened in that timeframe, so it's better to provide basic information about the reasons for taking a career break (e.g., family reasons, personal development, traveling and volunteering) than to make readers question it.



 


Mistake #9: Inconsistent details in work history


Work history is the most important part of your resume, so it needs to be nothing short of perfect.

When describing your previous responsibilities and achievements, you need to be specific and concise.


If some details repeatedly appear on your resume, make sure they are consistent. For example, if you mentioned in your career summary that you have over ten years of experience, the rest of your resume should provide a track record of it.


How to fix it?


After finishing writing your resume, take a break and let it sit for at least a few hours. Then, review it again with a fresh perspective. If there are any inconsistencies in your work history, fix them or take out this information.


If it feels hard to do it on your own, ask a friend or a family member for constructive feedback and see what questions or comments they have regarding your resume.



 


Mistake #10: Irrelevant work experience


The resume should only serve as a summary of your most relevant skills and experiences. Having said that, the best resumes are selective about which jobs they highlight -- it's all about the value they add to the job application.


Unfortunately, when writing a resume, many job seekers think they should add every single detail about their experience following the logic - the more, the better.


However, the truth is, most employers don't have time to read resumes word for word. They only scan them, looking for cues that showcase that the candidate could be suitable for the job.


To ensure a resume efficiently grabs the employer's attention, it should present only the relevant information in a concise and engaging way.


Irrelevant past experience, including unrelated unpaid jobs or projects, volunteering experience or internships from the beginning of one's career, do not belong on it.


How to fix it?


Do not feel pressured into including every single detail about your previous jobs and employment.


If your work experience is not related to the position you are applying for, it should not be on your resume -- unless it leads to multiple unexplained career track record gaps.


Instead, you can separate different types of employment or experiences in different industries in separate sections.


For example, you can have a section called 'relevant work experience' or just 'work experience' where you'll list and highlight jobs related to the vacancy.


Then, you can have a shorter section named 'previous employment', 'other employment', 'freelancing experience', or 'internships', depending on the nature of your previous experiences. There, you can provide a brief overview of other jobs by just adding job titles, companies and timeframes without further details.


This approach allows you to emphasize relevant experiences while addressing any potential gaps that may appear if you're not listing all employments in reverse chronological order.




Your perfect resume is a click away.


 


Mistake #11: Focusing on tasks instead on achievements


Accomplishments are unique to you and what you bring to the table. As such, they set you apart from other candidates with similar experience.


They highlight your strengths, skills, accomplishments, or contributions while enhancing your credibility and expertise; all of which are reasons for an employer to want to hire you.


Unfortunately, 97% of job seekers focus on listing their day-to-day job duties in their resumes which waters down their resume causing them to lose their chance to sell themselves to potential employers. By writing concise, achievement-focused bullet points, a resume can easily stand out from the pile of similar applications.


How to fix it?


The best way to list accomplishments on a resume is by quantifying results that you achieved in your previous roles.


Instead of just listing duties, focus on quantifiable successes and kick your resume bullet points with this information.


For example, instead of saying that you were responsible for managing sales, write something like this: 'increased sales by 17% by implementing new advertising channels and utilizing social media marketing'.



 


Mistake #12: Too long resume bullet points


Bullet points used to describe experience, accomplishments and skills are the heart of a resume. These bullet points are what readers focus on when deciding whether or not your experience matches their needs and expectations.


However, recruiters and hiring managers don't read resumes word for word.


They scan them looking for keywords that prove them you're a good fit for the open role.


Your resume literally has a few seconds, on average from 7 to 15 seconds, to grab the reader's attention and intrigue them with your experience.


Therefore, everything in your resume needs to be on point and described in a concise, easy-to-read way, especially your bullet points that shouldn't be longer than two lines.


How to fix it?


Review your bullet points. If any of them are three lines or longer, rewrite them to cut out the noise.


Take out pronouns and start all bullet points with action verbs. Aim at having between 30 to 75 words in each bullet point.



 


Mistake #13: Copying the entire job description


Once upon a time, somewhere on the Internet, someone shared a tip to copy the entire job ad into resumes. And this harmful suggestion started spreading fast.


So, why is it bad?


Even though the job posting specifies the job requirements, the job ad's language is completely different from the language that should be used in a resume. Resumes are personal, achievement-focused, tailored documents, whereas job ads are broad and generic.


People who copy the entire job description into their resume can appear lazy and unprofessional because they haven't taken the time to actually write about their experience related to the vacancy. This mistake makes it seem as though candidates didn’t put any effort or thought into their application.


How to fix it?


This one is simple - don't copy the content of a job description to your document.


Instead, use it to identify the job requirements and keywords that you can then use throughout your resume to showcase relevant skills and experience.