Top 10 Worst Resume Mistakes

You've started your job search, sent in your resume for several job postings, and you've had no response. No emails, no phone calls, nothing. You feel disappointed, frustrated, and confused. You don't know what you're doing wrong and have no idea what to do next. 

You may have committed one of the top 10 worst resume mistakes. 

The average job posting receives 250 resumes and only four to six candidates will get an interview.

And since 80% of resumes include one or more of the top 10 worst resume mistakes, submitting a mistake-free resume is an easy way to stand out.

So, let's run through the top 10 worst resume mistakes to make sure you're resume is error-free.

1. Typos and Grammatical Errors

This is, without question, the most common resume mistake. And from the recruiter's perspective, it's 100% avoidable. 

If your resume has typos or grammatical errors, it gives the impression that you weren't trying to do your very best. They'll think that you're not all that interested in the position or that you don't have the attention to detail that's required to do quality work. 

Make sure you proofread your resume multiple times and have someone else proofread it too. This is one of those "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" situations.

2. Generic Resume

While the one-size-fits-all resume worked in the past, it's not going to get you an interview in today's competitive job market. Employers are looking for resumes that are tailored for their particular job opening. They're looking for that extra effort that says, "I'm excited about your job and really, really want it."

And tweaking your resume before you send it in is not that hard. You just look for a few keywords in the job posting, slip them into your resume in the appropriate area, and you're all set.

It's going to take you less than 15 minutes to customize your resume, and it will make a big impression.

3. Bad Resume Summary

The resume summary at the top of your resume is the very first thing people read about you. It creates a first impression as to whether or not you're a good fit for their position.

Your resume should be well-written, highlight what makes you a valuable employee, and make them curious to learn more about you. No one reads someone's resume if they're not interested in learning more a candidate.

If it's a lackluster summary of your career that you quickly threw together, or if it's so generic that it could describe any person applying for any job, they probably won't even read the next section of your resume.

4. Crowding The Page

This is another common mistake job candidates make based on the thought that more is always better. You think that if you list every single career accomplishment that you'll have a better shot at getting an interview. But that's not what happens.

Resumes that are crowded with lines and lines of text in teeny-tiny print are visually overwhelming. The combination of a small font size and very little white space between lines makes your resume hard to read.

You want to use what's called "white space." White space makes it easier to read your resume, and if it's easy to read, you increase the likelihood that they'll read the whole thing. And that's the goal.

So don't stuff the page with every single one of your accomplishments. Strategically select the ones that are most relevant to the position.

5. List Duties But Not Accomplishments

Your resume needs to show not only what you did but how well you did it. It's easy to focus on a list of your duties and responsibilities in your position. It's tempting to just cut and paste that information from your job description.

And yes, recruiters want to know what you do, but they also want to know whether or not you do it well. Are you just the average employee, or do you go above and beyond to get things done?

Here's an example of duties vs. accomplishments:

Let's say that in your current position, you're responsible for maintaining product inventory. Instead of just listing, "Maintain product inventory," you'd say, "Maintain product inventory while decreasing system storage costs by 10%."

Maintain product inventory is the 'duty' and 'decreasing system storage costs by 10%' is your achievement.

6. No Specifics

Specifics are what makes the world go 'round. Recruiters and hiring managers probably already have a good idea of what you're doing in your current position. They take a quick look at your job title and can accurately guess what's in your job description. So, generalized information is not going to help you get noticed.

How can you be more specific?

For example, instead of listing, "Managed customer service call center," you could say, "Managed customer service call center that receives 1000+ calls per day."

Both of these examples communicate that you manage a call center, but the second creates a better understanding of the size of your responsibilities and the skills you need to possess to do that job well.

7. No Action Verbs

Action verbs are the lifeblood of a good resume. Without action verbs, it's going to sound like you're just sitting around in your job, day after day, without doing anything interesting. Action verbs make it sound like you're engaged and making a valuable contribution in your position. 

Just think of action verbs as the superheroes of your resume.

8. Resume Is Too Short

Unfortunately, there's a common misconception out there that no  matter how long you've been working, your resume should never be longer than one-page. Not true.

If you've been working in your career for over five years, you're probably going to need a two-page resume. Employers will expect you to have a little more to say about yourself and your accomplishments. 

You don't cut out important information and accomplishments just to squeeze everything onto one page. Just use the more-than-5-years equals-two-pages resume rule, and you'll be just fine.

9. Resume Is Too Long

Of course, the flip side to #8 is that some job candidates have a resume that's too long. 

I recently worked with a college graduate who was looking for her first professional position. She went to the college career counseling center and ended up with a five-page resume. The career advisor told her to list every single babysitting and dog walking job she'd ever had. Her engineering internships got lost in all of that information.

If this will be your first job or you have been in your career for five years or less, a one-page resume is totally appropriate. 

10. Outdated Contact Information

This is probably the easiest of the top 10 worst resume mistakes to avoid. 

If you're creating your first resume, make sure that the contact information at the top is absolutely perfect. Every letter, number, dot, and dash must be in the right place for them to contact you. You don't want to miss a phone call or have their email bounce back because you have a typo in your contact information.

If you're submitting a resume you already have on hand or updating your resume with new work history or education information, double-check your contact information. You may be so busy updating your employment information and career accomplishments that you completely forgot you have a new email address or phone number.

Proofreading Pays Off

If you were an English major in college, they probably told you that you can't make a living by proofreading what other people write and telling them what's wrong. 

But what they didn't tell you is that thoroughly proofreading your resume before you send it in will help you avoid the top 10 worst resume mistakes.

And that little investment of time will produce a big payoff in the end.