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Resume Mistakes – 5 Things Not to Do on Your Resume


There is no excuse for bad resume form and yet resume mistakes abound. In a competitive job market, yes, you want to stand out, but not for the wrong reasons. If you expect the recruiter or hiring manager to give you due consideration and make a thoughtful choice, then take the same care and consideration when creating your resume.

Don’t make any of these resume mistakes. Seriously. These are five examples taken from real resumes I’ve seen over time. All should be avoided.

5 Resume Mistakes You Should Never Make


The descriptive word “Efficacious”

This was an adjective used on a resume for a customer service job. I actually tripped over that one, because I couldn’t quite understand what they were attempting to convey about themselves. After absorbing the rest of the resume which was as flowery and lacked hard evidence, it was obvious this candidate was simply looking to puff up their thin skill set.

Don’t use words like this. Try “effective”, “efficient”, or “strong” to convey what you mean to receive a much more positive reaction. Attempting to hide a thin list of skills under a giant pile of fifty-cent words devalues the skills you have noted and is a big resume mistake. Recruiters and hiring managers are used to looking at a lot of resumes–you can’t trick them by using big words. Be honest and use plain language and you may just get a call for an interview.

Candidate’s cover letter contained “LOL”

I see this type of thing more often from any generation that has had access to the Internet and texting their entire lives, though not strictly so.  I get it, we’ve all become very comfortable with the technology we use everyday and the convenience that any associated shorthand may afford us.  It’s part of how we now communicate with each other on Facebook or through Twitter or texting or whathaveyou. But that doesn’t excuse it from showing up on a resume. Internet acronyms have no place in the middle of your resume or cover letter and I would consider this a big resume mistake. Write out proper words and use correct grammar, please.

If you’re curious, back in the day, “LOL” used to be short for “Lots of Love” at the end of a hand-written letter. Maybe if this candidate had been sending me a love letter, I might have allowed that one to pass.

Candidate’s email resume came with an inappropriate picture attached to their email profile

successfulI’ve given this advice before about not including a profile picture, because it could open up the possibility of you being discriminated against. In my opinion, this shouldn’t have been done just on general principle. Discrimination aside, when submitting a resume, you want to be as professional as possible and this resume mistake was a perfect example of the exact opposite of that.

The candidate’s picture, which they may or may not have been aware was associated with their electronic information, was one of them in a very short dress, leaning drunkenly on a table on one hand with a drink in the other and looking completely hammered. Not a good first impression. Check your electronic presence and don’t make this resume mistake. Look for attached profile matter (taglines, quotes, images) and remove those where necessary before submitting a resume through electronic means.

Listed “Detail oriented” as a skill written as “detail-orineted”

I just saw one of these this morning – always painful to see a resume mistake like this. In this case, even more painful, because the rest of the resume contained more typos and further spelling errors including an incorrect spelling of the name of the company. Ouch. Proof-read your resume!

“references upon request” at the bottom of the resume

Back a few years ago it was all the rage to add this line at the bottom of your resume. Nowadays? I would put this with the other resume mistakes. It’s assumed that if you’re applying for a job, you’re coming with some available references. And I’m going to ask you for them as a matter of course, so I expect you to have them.  If you haven’t got any references? You should line those up ahead of applying for the job posting.

Again, take your time and check over your resume well prior to submitting it anywhere to avoid any resume mistakes. Common sense, being honest and using direct, plain language will serve you well every time.

Pro tip:  Formatting doesn’t always translate well in different programs. Convert and save your resume as a PDF file to preserve the presentation you worked so hard to create.




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