11 Common Resume Mistakes that Will Ruin Your Chances

Common Resume MistakesResumes are one of two things: your ace or your joker; your two of diamonds or your three of spades. Assume that you are playing poker; will it be an ill-fated deck of cards or a fortune-filled set of aces? Getting an interview is like playing a card game—your key to achieving victory is having a good set of cards, and your key to getting an interview is having a good resume. The only difference is that when you’re playing a card game, you don’t have any control over the cards that will be put into your hands, but when you’re applying for a job, all it takes is the perfect combination of confidence and an exceptional resume.


To see if you are a good candidate, recruiters and interviewers often look at your resume first. This will determine their level of interest in your credentials. They want to know if you are worth their time. Even if you are qualified for the job, a single mistake can destroy your chances.

However, you can avoid these mistakes if you know how to write a resume properly. Here are a few reminders of what to check on your resume once it’s done:

Overall Appearance 

1. Spelling and Grammar

You might say that this is not necessary because your physical skills and abilities are more important than your grammar and spelling, but no. It’s a known fact that what matters most is what the person can do and offer, but you’ll never get past the first stage if your resume is riddled with errors.

Taking the time to reread your resume more than a few times won’t hurt. Check every part of it; consult the Internet or, better yet, consult an English major (if you know anyone), or consult a friend and ask him or her to read your resume and check to see if there is something wrong. Proofread it carefully and pay attention even to the smallest details.

2.  Fonts and Format

If you think that your creativity will be highlighted because you used eight different fonts and colors in writing your resume, you’re wrong. Avoid using too many font types and various font colors, and make sure that your font size is readable enough, but not so big that it seems like you’re shouting.

One more thing is you should avoid long, unnecessary paragraphs and long blocks of text. Interviewers often miss the key information because it is included in a very long paragraph. White space and bullets can make your resume format pleasing to the eye, so use them. This is helpful to interviewers, who usually just scan the resume. Also, set your margins properly and make sure that everything is precisely aligned.

Writing your resume is not making an art project. You are applying for a job, not competing in a graphic design contest. Avoid using weird colors, formats, or paper stocks. Your resume should be simple yet elegant. 

3.Too Brief or Too Lengthy

Normally, a resume should be 1-2 pages long. If you are a fresh graduate, try to stick with only one page, but if you are a more experienced applicant, you can use more space. Remember that the interviewer is most interested in the jobs that you’ve held recently, so use your space wisely and share more details regarding your most current and relevant work experience.

If you are having a hard time thinking of what to write about your work experience, list your achievements in school and your extracurricular activities. You can also include volunteer work and other contributions you made in your life. In addition, you can write about your experience in working with software programs and other tools that are related to the position you’re applying for.

Do not make it too short or too long. Include the necessary information and eliminate the unimportant details.

Careless Information

4. Dishonesty and Ambiguity

Lying on your resume is taking a huge risk and putting your opportunity on the line. Companies usually make background and reference checks and if you get caught, you’re finished. Even if you’re lucky enough to pass through the hiring process, dishonesty can ruin your chances of keeping the job.

If you are a graduating student, write your expected graduation date. Never say you’ve already graduated if you haven’t. Also, do not say that you can speak foreign languages if you cannot. If you think they’ll never know that you really can’t, you’re wrong because they will.

5. Vague Job Dates

Employers usually focus on how long you have stayed in your previous jobs. They will scan the dates and gaps in your resume, so consider at least writing the date when you started working and the date when you left (month and year are more sufficient). However, if this information is making you look bad, it’s okay to leave it out. If there are gaps in your resume, be sure to explain the reason why.

6. Contact Information

Many times, people forget to update their resume because they neglect to put their most recent contact information. If you have moved to another location and/or changed phone number or e-mail address, be sure to include this new information. 

Furthermore, you need to make sure that your e-mail address is simple and professional. If not, then get yourself a new one.

Essence of the Body

7. Unclear Objective

Keep in mind that your objective should be in line with the job that you’re applying for. Avoid vague statements, and try to make your objective specific to the job position you’re seeking. If your objective is clear, the interviewer will see that you really know what you’ll be doing when you start working.

8.Too Broad and Inappropriate

Avoid providing information that is too general. Be specific with your goals, skills, abilities, and achievements. Don’t include irrelevant information like being the winner from a raffle drawing or being the best swimmer in sixth grade. Focus your resume on the job position you’re applying for.

9. Red Flag Information

Your goal is to impress your potential employer with your resume. When you’re presenting an overview of your job skills and experience through your resume, don’t sabotage your chances by giving out information that could raise concern, like saying you left the job because of “political issues.”

10.Too Much Information

Describe your previous jobs in such a way that it gives an overview of your responsibilities. Highlight your career achievements, and don’t spend too much space writing about unnecessary details. It is advisable to use bullet points in writing about your accomplishments.

11. Passive Voice

Use action words that indicate you got things done; examples include “led,” “created,”“managed,” implemented,”“increased,” and “achieved.” You can use a thesaurus to help you if you suspect that you’re overusing words. However, remember to keep it understandable. Don’t use pretentious language to impress people with your vocabulary. Instead, strive to make them feel your passion for the job.

Your resume will show whether you’re suitable for an interview or not. It is very important that you take time to read it over and over again and ask someone to check it for you. Make it look great, but keep it simple and real. Unlike with playing cards, you determine what’s in your hand. Make sure that you’ve got the royal flush you need to win the game.

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Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.