5 Common Resume Mistakes (and 5 Quick Fixes for Them)

resume mistakesAfter reviewing  thousands of resumes in my career, I’ve noticed a trend.

Too many job seekers are making the exact same resume mistakes over and over again, many of which hold these job seekers back from getting job interviews.

So, I’m going to share with you the 5 most common resume mistakes I see, in the hope that you’ll take a look at your own resume. And if you see any of these mistakes, fix them now … before they do any further damage to your job search.

Using Objective Statements

Half of the resumes I reviewed contained generic and vague objective statements.

“to obtain a position that will utilize my education and years of experience to grow and advance …”

Or something to that effect. Studies show recruiters and employers spend 10 seconds or less in their initial review of your resume. A statement like the one above is not making use of the recruiter’s time; it is not telling them anything unique about you, why they should hire you, or why you’re different from everyone else that has the same statement on their resume.

Quick Fix: Delete the objective statement, people! It’s a waste of valuable space on your resume that could be put to better use communicating the value you offer the employer—and as a candidate, what sets you apart in a sea of job seekers who all look and sound alike.

No Introduction or Professional Profile

Then there were those who didn’t include an objective statement—but didn’t include anything at all! I was shocked to see half the resumes I reviewed contained no introduction, summary, profile, branding statement … nothing! The resume jumped right into their degree or work experience. What is so damaging to your job search about this?

You give the hiring manager no clue as to the type of position you want to obtain, what you’re qualified to do, and no summary of your experience. This means they’ll have to guess which position you’re applying for as well as the type of experience you have … and they’ll have to go looking for it. So that initial 10 seconds they invest probably won’t be invested at all because they’re going to have to go searching for all the information they need.

Quick Fix: Market yourself! Use a job target/title at the top of the resume, include a branding statement, and create a 3- to 5-line career summary about yourself that includes major keywords and prominent successes.

All Bullets … All the Time

I can assure you no one wants to read 20 bullets in a row. You will lose your audience after the 5th one. You know that expression, “everything in moderation”? That includes your resume too, folks. It should not be two pages of just bullets. Every resume I reviewed, save one, had an overabundance of bullet points that went on for pages.

Quick Fix: Mix it up!  Use paragraphs to summarize your experience—and bullets to tout your accomplishments.

Accomplishments Few and Far Between

Every resume, save one (I’m not making this up, people; when I say every resume but one, I mean it.), had bullet points that told me about duties and responsibilities. Only one person used any metrics within their resume to describe their accomplishments, successes, contributions, and results.

But Jessica, what if I don’t have any numbers or accomplishments from my past jobs?  I’m so glad you asked. Come, let’s reason together! If you had contributed absolutely NOTHING to your past positions you would have been fired. Surely you contributed something.

Does there have to be a number attached to it? Not necessarily. Did you face any challenges or situations during your tenure that required you to take action? Of course you did; you’re human … we’re problem solvers by nature.

Quick Fix: Think about a challenge or situation you faced while employed. What action did you take to address it?  What was the outcome? Tell me about that! That’s your story! That’s the value you offer employers; those are your results/accomplishments/successes/contributions. By the way, this is also great practice for behavioral interviewing. When the interviewer says, “Tell me about a time when …” you’ll know you’re in a behavioral interview—and you’ll already have your answer ready. (You’re welcome in advance.)

Passive Words and Phrases

This is one of my resume pet peeves. Passive terminology tells the employer very little about your contributions. Examples of passive resume terms include “adept at”, “familiar with”, “knowledgeable in”, “duties included”, “responsible for”, “skilled in”, and “worked with”.

These phrases don’t really tell the employer anything of value. Instead, use some action-driven words and phrases.

Quick fix: Here are several examples of action-driven words you can use on your resume right now:

  • Accelerated
  • Bartered
  • Coordinated
  • Developed
  • Enhanced
  • Forged
  • Generated
  • Honored
  • Identified
  • Invented
  • Judged
  • Launched
  • Managed
  • Negotiated
  • Obtained
  • Piloted
  • Recaptured
  • Secured
  • Selected
  • Thwarted
  • Transformed
  • Unified
  • United
  • Verified
  • Won

So here’s my take-away for you …

Pull out your resume and find out which one (or more) of these common mistakes you’re making on your resume and implement the quick fix associated with it. If you’re making all five, just focus on fixing one at a time until all five are corrected.

Spread it out over a few days if necessary so you won’t feel overwhelmed or like you’re tackling rewriting your entire resume in one shot – focusing on one issue at a time and repairing it will make the task of fixing your resume much less daunting.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Great Resumes Fast!



Jessica-Holbrook-HernandezAbout the Author: A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. With more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, she has developed innovative and proven resume development, and personal branding strategies to generate powerful results for clients.

As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted on CNN.com, Monster.com, Job Talk America radio, SmartBrief, International Business Times, and more. Jessica has her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications/Public Relations from the University of North Florida. Contact Jessica on Twitter!



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