Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid

Inconsistent formatting:

Employers who notice inconsistencies could question your attention to detail. Carefully proofread for tiny issues, such as:

  • Ending some bullets with periods and others without.
  • Inconsistent spacing between or within sections.
  • Formatting some dates with hyphens and others with dashes, improper spacing around the hyphen/dash, and using numbers for some months but words for other months.

Misaligned information:

Never use the spacebar to align information on the page, such as dates and locations at the right margin. It is not precise enough to perfectly line everything up. Instead, use a right-justified tab placed at the margin

Spelling errors (and grammar disagreements):

Any such mistake will cause employers to throw away your resume. 

Generic traits:

These pop up more often in the cover letter, but also on resumes. Employers prefer tangible information, so avoid these generic words:

  • Hard working, fast learner, highly motivated, detail oriented, organized, etc.

Accomplishments and context not quantified:

Numbers really help catch the reader’s attention and validate your experiences. For example: “Worked directly with 6-person engineering team on $50,000,000 hospital renovation.”

Listing tasks rather than accomplishments:

To double check the strength of your bullets, ask yourself “So what?” after each one. What impact did you make on your organization through the work that you did? Who benefited and how? What value did you contribute to the bigger picture success of the team? What would have happened if you hadn’t been there? Again, you won’t be able to answer all of these questions, but if you can concisely show the value of your work it will transform a list of tasks (that every person has done in a similar role) into a list of accomplishments unique to your success. And even if you can’t add the info to your resume, it will help you talk about it during future interviews. More broadly, try to figure out how each experience will help you be better at the jobs you’re applying for. What will those organizations want to know you can do for them? Try to describe your work in those terms.