5 Common resume mistakes to avoid

By Courtney Jones

First impressions may only take a moment, but they have the troublesome habit of lingering a lot longer if your aim to impress is lackluster.

On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes, but only four to six of these paper faces will get an in-person interview—and only one will get the job. Your resume is your first impression, so avoid these common mistakes to leave one that separates you from the other 249…in a good way.


  1. Grammar and spelling errors

Typos: There the number one resume killer. (There/they’re… did you spot that? A recruiter will!)

According to a 2013 survey, 58% of employers identified CVs with typos as one of the top mistakes that led them to automatically dismiss a candidate.

DON’T: Ever solely rely on spellcheck.

DO: Enlist a second pair of eyes to review the document after you’ve proofread it yourself.


  1. Duty driven vs. accomplishment driven statements

Language sells, and employers are more interested in what you’ve accomplished as opposed to what your job required. Never use language like “duties included” or “responsible for” in your experience section. Instead, use action verbs to highlight achievements.

DONT: Include something like, “Responsible for organizing department files.”

DO: Include something like, “Contributed to improving office efficiency by organizing 10 years’ worth of chaotic files, ensuring easy access to all department members.”


  1. The one size fits all approach

When you apply for a specific position, employers expect your resume to be specifically tailored to that role.  They want to clearly see how and why you’re the right fit. According to the same 2013 survey, 36% of employers identified a generic approach as one of the mistakes that turns your resume into rubbish.

DON’T: Include an objective or profile that doesn’t match the focus of the job.

DO: Read the job description carefully, identify the keywords used and ensure to include them within the summary and body of your resume. Learn to keyword your resume like a pro here.


  1. Omitting exact dates

Leaving out exact dates can leave employers with a sneaking suspicion that you’re trying to hide something. When it comes to your employment history, 27% of employers identified resumes that don’t include exact dates as another common mistake that leads to an automatic no-go.

DON’T: Lie!

DO: Be up front about any large gap, and address the issue in your cover letter or  explain right in the resume:  i.e. Dec 2013- March 2014: Parental or Maternity Leave/ Sabbatical/World Travel/ Family Caregiver.


  1. Too visually busy or incorrect formatting

Here’s the golden rule: If it’s hard on the eyes, revise! When It comes to resumes, substance definitely matters more than style. Unless you’re applying for a position as a graphic designer or for another role in a creative field, stick to a simple, traditional resume style with bullet points.

DON’T: Include graphs or charts. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used by recruiters and employers can’t read them, so you’re keywords that match the job description won’t be found.

DO: Make sure the formatting looks perfect in any program it’s opened in. You can also save your resume as a .PDF to help alleviate any formatting glitches in different programs.


Your resume won’t get a second chance to make a great first impression if it’s in the recycle bin. Avoid these common mistakes, so you don’t miss out on any career opportunities.

by Courtney Jones

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