7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Here are seven mistakes that ruin most resumes, and what you can do to prevent them:

Mistake #1: No Objective or Summary

Start your job search off on the right foot by describing the job or field in which you want to work. Otherwise, you force the employer to read your entire resume before figuring out which position best suits you. This creates unnecessary work for your reader.

If you already know the exact type of job or title you’re applying for, mention it! You can start the resume something like this:


Detail oriented Engineering Manager with 10 years of design experience seeking to bring value and expertise to an organization.

What if you don’t know the job title? You can start your resume like this:


Engineering Manager with 10 years of design and manufacturing experience who knows how to add value to operations.

By starting your resume with a clear objective or a focused summary, you tell the reader exactly what you want to do for him or her. This establishes a rapport and sets the stage for the resume, which will greatly improve your results.

Mistake #2: Focusing on Your Needs

This is the biggest mistake you can make. Your resume must quickly answer the one question on every employer’s mind: “What does this applicant bring to the table?”

Unfortunately, most resumes don’t even come close to addressing this question, instead including statements such as, “Experienced Marketing Manager seeking a position where I can utilize my skills in an environment with potential for career advancement.” While a statement like this might accurately describe your motives for applying, it makes your potential employer less interested in your resume.

Employers hate to hire new people. The only reason they need to hire someone is when they have a problem and need to solve it. Typically, they are very busy and can’t spend a lot of time in the hiring process.

Writing about yourself and not including what the employer wants. Your resume should be a marketing tool addressing the needs of the potential employer reading the resume. The employer looking at this resume should be saying, “This person has exactly what I’m looking for” as they read your resume.

The success of your resume depends on making it clear to the employer how you can contribute to the efficiency of the organization. Notice this opening summary again:


Engineering Manager with 10 years of design and manufacturing experience who knows how to add value to operations.

It’s enticing for a manager to hear upfront that you can add value to the organization’s operations. You can also say you will contribute to the efficiency of the organization or make the company more profitable, if in fact the job description calls for it and you’re capable of reaching these goals. The fastest way to advance your personal goals is to help your employer achieve his or her goals.

Mistake #3: Focusing on Responsibilities Instead of Results

Stress what you’ve accomplished and how invaluable you are to your current employer, instead of telling the reader what responsibilities you’ve held at each prior job.

Make a list of your daily duties and activities at your current or previous job, and brainstorm how fulfilling those responsibilities made a positive impact on the organization. Focus specifically on results… the more the better – because this is what the employer will want to see.

Mistake #4: Using Too Many Big Words

I have seen this way too many times. Applicants use terminology, jargon, or fancy words that really don’t have any value for the employer. The message you want to convey in your resume should be clear, concise, and to the point.

Simple is best. Use this mantra followed by national newspaper journalists: Write at a fifth-grade reading level. For example, try “organized” instead of “administered”.

Mistake #5: Spelling and Punctuation Errors

I cannot overemphasize the importance of using your word processor’s spell-check. Submitting resumes with grammatical errors, spelling errors, typos or poor formatting will not help you. A potential employer will look at the resume and think that an applicant who represents himself or herself poorly on paper will not represent the organization well in person.

Almost every hiring manager I talk to says they consistently see resumes with spelling or punctuation errors. In addition to using spell-check, read through the entire resume at least twice. Focus on making sure dates, titles, and numbers are correct.

Show your resume to a few friends and have them read it out loud so you can hear what it sounds like. Tweak the parts that don’t read well.

Mistake # 6: Too Much Detail

Providing too many details about older jobs that don’t apply to the job you’re seeking. Including a 7 page resume with too much detail about the progression or regression of your career will give the manager a high level idea of where your career is heading. Any employer who feels your career is on the decline will consider other candidates.

Mistake # 7: Formatting

Formatting your resume in a confusing manner. A potential employer will spend about 15 seconds doing a quick scan of your resume. Using an easy-to-read format allows him or her to spend more time reading your resume in detail. The common resume formats are reverse chronological, functional (skill based), and a combination format (or what’s referred to now as hybrid). 

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at