5 Resume Mistakes That Are Holding You Back

December 3, 2015

Do you trust bad advertising? When the product isn’t clear or it looks like it wasn’t made well? It’s likely you just tune it out, and ignore it. Not only will it make you not want to buy the product, it also gives you a negative opinion on that brand. That’s what hiring managers feel when they come across resumes that just… aren’t good. They tend to tune it out, whether they want to or not, and the resume is not considered, regardless of the qualifications of the candidate. We’ve seen it happen too often, to good people.

That’s why we’ve compiled 5 common resume mistakes you should avoid in order to make sure that your skills and achievements are given the attention they are due.

1) Not caring about the details.

If your resume does not look professional, it will likely be instantly screened out. While some may give it a scan, they’re going to be on autopilot. They’ve already made a decision about you even before getting to the content.

Even if you send your resume online, print it out first. Give it a quick scan and check for any inconsistencies. Is the font the same all throughout? Are the spacing and margins equal? Just take a look at it and notice any points for visual improvement without focusing on the content.

Then go over the text. Are there any grammatical or spelling errors? Is the format of the information provided the same throughout? Finally, while you’re at it, check if the information is correct, especially your contact information. There’s nothing worse than putting the wrong phone number or email address.

2) Having a generic resume.

It’s very tempting to do this, especially when you are our sending out mass applications. Having a one-size fits all may feel like a big help in giving you more time to apply to more companies, but doing this can actually be counterproductive. Instead of sending out numerous resumes, pick companies and job openings you really want, and put your effort into customizing a resume for those specific openings.

A good place to start is by reviewing the information on your resume, and matching it to the job qualifications and functions. Are you able to fill in what is needed? Sometimes, though the answer is yes, the information in the resume is not compelling enough. Going through this process of customizing your resume for a specific position allows you to edit it, and add more details and information that will help you get the employer’s attention.

Take it a step further by adding information you think the company will find valuable. In order to help with this, learn about the company’s vision and values by reading about them on their website, and check out their social media pages. Do your research, they’re doing it on you. Use their passions and vision to your advantage by making yourself more attractive to the potential employer.

3) Not being specific.

Avoid general statements, especially when referring to previous job functions. Don’t just mention that you handled projects or trained new employees. Use numbers and add details. Explain how you handled 20 projects in the span of a year, or that you trained 10 employees who were fresh out of graduation who ended up staying with the company for 10 years, and now hold managerial positions.

If you’re not specific enough, you may end up with a job you don’t actually want. It is not really necessary to put in an objective (more on this later), but if you do, be honest and specify your actual objective. Don’t just say that you want to work for the marketing department of a company, hoping for a publicity job and then sulk and be miserable when you’re given an office job with a lot of research, numbers and analyses.

In line with this, if you’re really trying to avoid a specific task or function, do not give the impression that you want it. For example, let’s say you are in sales and handle international accounts, but you do not like travelling. If you mention this on your resume, your employer will think that you are open to traveling. You can word your functions and achievements differently without lying in order to say what you actually mean to say.

4) Using future tense.

Are you the type of person who looks to reviews, testimonials or demos before buying into something? It’s the same with hiring managers. They will consider you not for what you say you can do, but rather what you can do for the company based on what you have done or are currently doing.

Highlight achievements you have accomplished. These will help them determine your worth. Don’t hope that hiring managers will take your word for it. They are deciding to make an investment, and what you have done is what will help them determine if you are worth it.

The simplest way to show this is to use past tense for previous jobs and present tense for current jobs. Don’t just mentioned how you can increase productivity in the office. Tell them how you have increased production in the past years since you have started.

5) Adding irrelevant information.

Do not take away from your qualifying skills and achievements by filling up your resume with irrelevant information. Part of customizing each resume depending on the job opening means doing away with information that will not help you land the job. This involves skills, achievements and details that do not contribute to your qualifications to the specific job whether directly or indirectly. You have to be careful in choosing what to take out. Though you may have experience in a different unrelated industry, you may realize that the skills involved in that former job may help you land this specific job. Don’t put an objective if you are just going to write something general. Also, do not add a reference section if all you’ll put is “reference available upon request”. Keep it short and sweet. It’s an overused cliché, but that’s only because it is true and effective.

We’re curious, do you have any other resume tips that can be helpful to others? If so, list them below!

Still need help? We’ll help you build the perfect resume so you can land your dream job! Learn more at

VP of Marketing at Digital Astronauts

Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder’s of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes — from start-ups to Fortune 500’s. He helped build one of the first online software review websites, specializing in CRM, ERP, and HR software. He’s a nationally published author with extensive experience working with the HR/Recruiting industries largest brands. In his spare time, you can catch him on Instagram doing his best food blogger impersonation.


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