10 Resume Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

hands of person sitting across table touching a resume

Crafting a well-organized, powerful resume is one of the most important aspects of being on the job market. But, all of your hard work on your job application materials can be undone in a second if you make some of these grave resume mistakes:

1. Typos

Glaring spelling errors, grammar mistakes, punctuation blunders, or other such typos are often a total disqualifier for employers and can send your document straight into the digital trash can. To avoid letting these little (and sometimes not-so-little) resume typos slip past you before you hit “submit,” always be sure to have at least one or two highly detail-oriented and meticulous friends scan your resume for errors. Sometimes, you’re so close to the document that it’s easy to miss mistakes that an outside reader would pick up on right away. It’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes go over any of your job application materials before you send.

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2. Misleading information

Even little “white lies” or exaggerations can land you in very hot water with a prospective or current employer. Embellishing your resume with falsehoods is likely the biggest mistake you can make on the job market, and the risk to your candidacy and your professional reputation is just too great over any short-term reward you think you might get from lying.

3. Unattractive or confusing formatting

Hiring managers will typically take just a few seconds to scan your resume before deciding to pass you along to the next round in the hiring or interview process. Don’t let your formatting stand in the way of the content in your resume, as any kind of confusing layout or awkward organization can frustrate your reader and turn them off to your candidacy.

4. Unnecessary information

Your resume is not the be-all-end-all, comprehensive summary of your entire academic and professional life. It should not include things like your high school grades, irrelevant work experience that has nothing to do with your professional life now or the job to which you are applying, or extremely outdated work experience from decades past.

5. An objective statement

Objective statements on resumes – a few sentences where you summarize the type of work or position you’re seeking – are all but obsolete now and have instead been replaced by the summary, or “executive summary.” Instead of explaining what you’re looking for (after all, if you’re applying to their position, an employer will already have a good idea of positions you’re interested in), take 2-3 sentences to summarize or explain the expertise, experience, or skills you can offer the employer.

6. Highly personal information

As far as personal information goes, most resumes should only include your name and email address as mandatory fields, with your phone number, city or state you’re located in, and a link to your LinkedIn profile or website all as optional. Leave off your exact home address and any information about your family, such as marital status or other demographic markers.

7. Unprofessional email addresses

Ditch the adolescent or inappropriate email address handles from high school or college and make sure your contact email is plain or professional and doesn’t raise any red flags.

8. Your picture

In some instances, a picture might be appropriate, but for most fields or industries this is considered unprofessional and could possibly even raise questions about bias or discrimination.

9. The phrase References available upon request

This once-common resume staple is now considered dated and unnecessary. For one, a potential employer will just assume that you will provide references upon request, so it’s kind of stating the obvious. And, many employers provide a space in the application or specific instructions around how to submit references. Don’t waste valuable space on the page with pointless lines like this.

10. Personal hobbies

Unless your hobby has a very clear and direct correlation to the job, delete this section of your resume. While interesting, your employer doesn’t need to know about your competitive scrabble hobby or that you teach goat yoga every weekend.

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