5 Common Resume Mistakes You’re Probably Making (And What To Do Instead)


Applying for a new job can be one big stressor. You need to craft the perfect cover letter, prep for the first-level interview and make sure the important people actually see you in the big stack of applications in the first place.

Your resume is one of the hard-hitting materials that could make or break your chances of scoring that interview, and there are a lot of ways you could mess it up (not to freak you out, but it’s true). Here are five common mistakes to avoid and what you should do instead.

1. Writing An Objective

Frankly, if you’re an adult and you’re applying for a job that assumedly also requires a cover letter, there’s no reason for an objective on your resume. The sentence declaring that you’re seeking a position with the company you’re applying to is redundant and unnecessary. More importantly, it takes up precious space on your resume that you could use more wisely. Take out your objective and call it a day.

2. Not Using Optimized Keywords

If you’re using LinkedIn, you probably already know that you should include relevant keywords that match the sort of positions you’re applying for. What you may not have considered is that your resume should include the same keywords. Think beyond words that describe the type of title you want (like “video producer”) and use words that describe the things you’d ideally be doing in each job and the skills and experience you have (like “Adobe Photoshop” and “managed video team”). It’s possible that the company you’re applying to has an automated screening process in which it looks for keywords, and if you don’t hit enough of them, your resume immediately goes into the trash.


3. Not Personalizing Your Resume For Each Job

If you’re not changing around your resume for every position you’re applying to, you’re doing it wrong. You’d never send out the same cover letter for each application, would you? The answer is absolutely not.¬†Every company is looking for something slightly different in a candidate even if they’re filling the same title, so make sure you tailor your skills, work experience and accomplishments to the position you’re applying for. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t often work, so don’t chance it.

4. Focusing On Responsibilities Instead Of Accomplishments

We’re not sure where we learned this in our professional journeys, but we’re guilty of adding a slew of duties under each of our former positions and leaving out accomplishments or “results.” If you’re guilty of doing this, too, tweak some of your prior duties to include the results of your hard work. For example, if you led a big project as part of your last position, use data to explain how your project succeeded (“Sales were boosted by 43 percent after project X”). Employers want to know what skills you have, of course, but they really want to know that your existing experience has a good chance of positively impacting your new potential company.

5. Omitting Action Verbs

Who here has written “responsible for” when describing prior experience under certain jobs? You may remember way back when in your seventh grade English class how important action verbs were when writing those annoying essays. Well, the same rule applies here, and basically everywhere in your professional career. Make sure to use action verbs on your resume wherever you can to make your resume look and feel more energetic. For example, instead of saying “Responsible for managing freelance projects”, say “Conceived and executed the freelance projects program and maintained relationships with 20+ weekly contributors.” The second sentence sounds more dynamic and speaks more to your day-to-day experience in this role.