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Common Mistakes on a Resume

Aug 04, 2021
8 min read

Not getting anywhere with your resume? Don’t let one of these common resume mistakes block your chances of getting hired for your dream job!

1. Typos

This is a major red flag to recruiters, and it is so easily avoided! Being guilty of occasional typos or grammatical errors is no bad thing per se, but on a resume, it tells readers that you don’t have the motivation or diligence to read over your work and edit. Use sites like Grammarly to triple-check your spelling or invite friends to read over your work. 

2. Not tailoring to different applications

We know it’s a drag 😤 but in the current job market, not tailoring your resume to specific roles will leave you falling behind. Start with several template resumes, such as for different positions, types of company or tone, and tweak it each time using words from the job listing itself. If the listing states that it is seeking a “great collaborator, proficient in Excel”, include the word “collaboration” in your soft skills section and Excel in your hard skills.

3. Detailing tasks and not achievements

Use the little summary section below each job title to list achievements and lessons-learned, rather than simply recounting your role. Instead of writing that you ‘got coffee, inputted data and took down meeting notes’ as an intern, write that you ‘assisted the launch of a new internal communication system that increased workplace productivity by 38%’. 

4. Foregoing numbers 🔢

Make sure to always use a statistic, percentage, or other numerical value in place of a vague statement wherever possible. Quantifying your resume is highly worthwhile because it tells recruiters several things. Firstly, it makes your achievements concrete, efficiently communicating the value of your work. Secondly, it shows that you can confidently use analytics tools and practice self-review. And thirdly, it’s just quicker to read! Click here to find out more about how to quantify your resume. 

5. Longer than two pages

If you’ve been in the industry for less than five years, there is no reason why your resume should be longer than two pages. If you can get it down to one; even better. Use a resume builder, such as Novoresume or Canva to help make efficient use of page space and be highly selective when choosing what to include. 

6. Absent or unprofessional contact details

Make sure your email, LinkedIn and phone number are clearly listed on your resume. Your email address should be professional (not [email protected]) and your mobile voicemail appropriate. Only include links to relevant social media and not personal pages. 

7. Too much personal information

Thanks to employee protection laws, it is now illegal to discriminate on many aspects of a person’s identity, including nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, marital status, and ethnicity. Therefore, it is a waste of space to include references to these personal attributes on your resume, as employers must overlook them. 

8. Too many buzzwords

To sound impressive, it can be tempted to pack your resume with punchy personality buzzwords. However, using a term incorrectly or untruthfully can do more harm than good. For example, to call yourself a “dynamic self-starter” is promising employers that you will be comfortable showing serious initiative in a new role, likely with little to no handholding or guidance. There’s nothing wrong with favoring more collaborative approaches, so it is best to be honest about how and where you work best. Use Gyfted’s Short Personality Assessment Tool to find out more about your personality type and how to market yourself and your skills 🙌.

9. Wacky fonts

You might be a die-hard lover of wingdings but on a resume, that won’t cut it. The most important thing is that your font is clearly legible, without distracting the reader from the content. Consensus is that in 2021, Calibri is the perfect font – since it is legible, comforting and more modern than others (I’m looking at you, times new roman). 

10. Poor formatting

Though it is what’s written, rather than how you present it that is most important, poor formatting can be a major distraction and a subtle way of psychologically off-putting the reader. Try to say something subtle with your formatting. For example, if you are going for an administration or analytical role – make your resume as efficient and clear as possible. If going for a creative role, such as a content creator, having a well-designed and “attractive” resume is also a way of “showing not telling” your skills.

11. Being too humble 

They say recruiters will spend an average of seven-seconds looking over your resume, so you want to make 100% sure they instantly see your biggest achievements. So don’t bury your top skills at the bottom of page two. It can be uncomfortable talking so candidly about your skills, but the resume is the place to do it. 

12. Not including a summary

A short summary or bio is vital on a resume, as it communicates personality, motivation, and personal goals. This should be highly tailored to the role you are applying for and have an upbeat and confident tone. It can be as simple as: I am a [adjective]+ [current job title], seeking opportunities in [specific job role]. Utilizing my success/skills in [achievements], I aim to [motivational statement]. 

13. Lying about skills or experience 

We all frame our experience in the best light possible, but it can be easy to cross a line. Imagine being interrogated on a resume skill in an interview, or made to do it on your very first day of the job – could you do it? If not, it’s not worth your time or anyone else’s to lie about it!

14. Omitting vital skills

Recruiters often filter resumes by specific hard skills needed for the role, so forgetting to include them could leave you sliding through the net. Make sure to include all relevant skills and tools you are proficient in, particularly those mentioned on the job posting. Again, if you can weave them into a quantitative statement of achievement – even better. For example: ‘I made effective use of Google Analytics and AdSense to increase web traffic by 73% in my first six months’.

15. Leaving off part-time jobs

This one is dependent on space, but some people assume that their part-time college bar or waitressing jobs are irrelevant. In fact, they tell recruiters a lot about your work ethic, time management skills and reliability. If you have the space to spare, they are often worth including.

16. Not mentioning hobbies

Your resume should be predominantly about your workplace skills, but employers will always be looking for personality. Stating that you like rock climbing, or play in a band, will flesh you out as an interesting and well-rounded individual – someone that might be a welcome addition to a social office environment. 

17. Forgetting action words

Finally, make sure your resume is full of action words, such as “expanded”, “grew”, “lead”, “elevated” or “diminished”. It puts you in the driving seat and asserts that you will always be an active worker, taking initiative and confidently negotiating tasks and challenges.


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