Resumes & Cover Letters

7 Things You’re Putting on Your Resume That Are Costing You the Job

Written by ResumeSpice

At ResumeSpice, we spend a lot of talking to job seekers about how to best present themselves to potential employers. We’ve written quite a bit about it too. However, there are a few universal standards about what not to do on your resume and the team at ResumeSpice has included some of the most common. Regardless of your background and experiences, these mistakes can hurt your chances of landing your dream job.

Don’t give misinformation

There are so many reasons not to include misinformation on your resume. Aside from the clear ethical issues, chances are you will be found out. Whether it’s through a reference check or due to the fact that you’re not really that great at the software you claimed mastery of in your resume, time will expose exaggerations and mistruths.  Don’t risk your long-term future for a short-term payoff. Stick to the truth.

Lest you think lying on a resume is limited to entry level candidates, here are some high-profile examples of higher-level candidates who were caught.

Don’t include your nationality, religion, age, or other “protected” information

This is particularly relevant to candidates from outside the U.S. where it may not only be accepted, but expected to include information about nationality, age, religion, and other protected classes. But if you’re applying for a job in the U.S., you’ll want to leave this information off.

Certain groups of the workforce are protected classes under federal law. As such, employers can be held liable for not hiring someone based on their fitting within certain protected classes, so including that information can make them skip over you to avoid any accusations of discrimination later on.

Don’t list your references

Employers know that you have references, and it’s understood that they’ll ask for them once they’re seriously considering your candidacy. Don’t waste valuable space on your resume by including references. Don’t even write “references available by request.”

Don’t include meaningless puffery

There are words and phrases that don’t mean much on your resume. Those phrases like “team-player,” “hard-worker,” “excellent communicator” are all ones you should avoid. The first and most obvious reason is that it takes up space. The second is that those are qualities that every employee should have. If you need some soft skills to include on your resume, demonstrate how you’ve put them in action. Have you led a team? Given presentations and received great feedback? Sharing examples is more powerful than including a list of generic terms.

Don’t leave out pertinent information

Pertinent information are things like the dates of employ at each company and your contact information (yes, people actually leave out their contact information).

Your tenure at each company is important to recruiters, so do yourself a favor and make sure they’re listed. If you’re worried about a career gap, there are several ways you can overcome that on your resume, or you can address it in a cover letter.

Don’t include jobs from 20+ years ago

If you have a solid resume and career experience, there’s no need to include the snow cone stand you worked at in high school.  The jobs from long, long ago are likely irrelevant to the types of jobs you’re seeking now. The only time a job during high school might be acceptable to include is if you’re a recent graduate.

Don’t use the same resume for each application

Each company you’re applying to is unique in the sense that they all have different business goals and needs. That’s why they advertise specific qualifications. For each role, pick out several key words that feel really important to the job and interlace your resume with them.  For example, if a company writes that agency experience isn’t required, but it’s preferred, you’ll definitely want to highlight any agency experience you might have.

Everyone wants their resume to stand out, but it needs to stand out for the right reasons, and we think it’s just as important to understand what not to do as it is to understand what to do. We welcome you to visit ResumeSpice for more help.

About ResumeSpice:

ResumeSpice is an online career services company, offering a comprehensive menu of career services to help job seekers land the job of their dreams. From resume writing to cover letter, interviewing, LinkedIn, and career coaching services, job seekers are able to select from a suite of options that meet their needs. ResumeSpice was developed by recruiters based on first-hand knowledge of what recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals are really looking for in a successful candidate. For more information, visit


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