Resumes & Cover Letters

The 6 Most Common Resume Mistakes

Written by Kate Lopaze

For some mistakes in life, you can look back and laugh. I mean, no one actually likes their seventh grade haircut, right? Other mistakes produce a similar cringe, but also regret because you know you could have done so much better. A great example of that one is when you make avoidable mistakes on your resume. A little care and attention at the time could have saved you, and opened up opportunities. Follow these best resume tips, and avoid some of the most popular resume mistakes.

1. The too-casual resume.

Back in the good old days of the internet, everyone on AOL had a fun, kicky username that was also their email address. However, probably didn’t anticipate that someday she’d be using that handle to look for gainful employment. These days, there’s zero excuse to use your personal email address on your resume if it’s just that—personal—in nature. Email is free and it is plentiful. So even if you have all of your gamer accounts pointed at, do yourself a favor and also create a account too. You want the employer to know that you can separate your professional self from your personal one. That email address at the very top of your resume is the first chance for a red flag.

Similarly, no nicknames. If you’re known as “Big Dog” by all the other salespeople at your current job, don’t feel like you need to include that in your resume.

2. The too-much-info resume.

If you back up from your resume and squint, and it just looks like one big brick of text, it’s time to revise. You want it to read like an outline of only the most important points about your career. An interview will give you the chance to give background, context, and any additional info you want them to know.

3. The outdated resume.

Job hunting in 2016 is a much different creature than it was in 1996. Elements fall out of style over the years, and doggedly including them in your current resume can make your packaging seem out of date. A prime example of this is the “objective” statement in the resume, usually a blurb right under the header. The résumé itself is a testament to your goal of getting this job, so you might as well take the space back and include even more action items about how awesome you are.

4. The way-back-when resume.

If you’ve just graduated from high school and haven’t yet built up a long resume, by all means include your school information and diploma status. If you’re 35 and have had more experience, leave it out. Your resume should be a snapshot of who you are, and tailored for the job you’re seeking. If information is more than 10 years old or not directly relevant for the job you’re applying for, consider leaving it out altogether.

5. The non-proofread resume.

This cannot be said enough times: please, please, please check your resume thoroughly for typos, incorrect info, any weirdness at all before you send it out. There are no backsies once you send it out. The best way to do this is to have a trusted (but neutral) friend read it for you, looking for any mistakes that your own eye might have skipped over.

6. The victim-of-spellcheck resume.

Remember a second ago, when I said that you should check the resume to death? That has a caveat: don’t depend on your word processing app’s spellchecker. The spellcheck program won’t flag words that may be used wrong, but are spelled perfectly fine (too/to/two, there/their/they’re, etc.). And don’t get me started on AutoCorrect…Always have a human read it thoroughly to make sure you’re saying what you think you’re saying.

We are our own worst enemies sometimes, and nowhere is this more common than in a job search. Stay out of your own way, and you might be amazed at the opportunities that come along.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.