7 Common Resume Mistakes (& How to Address Them)

For hiring managers and candidates, a resume is an essential step in a complex process. It’s often the first point of contact where the candidate can make a strong impression, and for the hiring manager, it’s a tool to screen potential fits for the role. In both cases, it’s vital to understand common resume mistakes.

Even the best resume could benefit from another review to catch any errors or make some adjustments. These tweaks could be anything from optimizing it for search, clarifying information, or highlighting updated skills.

A single mistake on a resume should not disqualify candidates from consideration if they are otherwise qualified. However, it’s good to notice and ask for context (if necessary) or correct.

Common Resume Mistakes

Here are seven common mistakes made on resumes, including how job seekers can correct them.

1. Incorrect Grammar and Typos

Mistakes, typos, and grammar errors on a resume are pretty common. A single typo or two shouldn’t be disqualifying, but typos throughout the document make it harder for a hiring manager to read a resume and understand the candidate’s experience.

How job seekers can address it: A job search can be exhausting and time-consuming, but it’s better not to rush. Don’t assume that spellcheck or typing assistants are picking up all potential errors. Read it out loud, have a friend review it, or walk away for several hours and read it with fresh eyes before sending it. AI tools can also help you catch typos and errors!

2. Poor Formatting

Most hiring managers and recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan resumes as they come in. The ATS seeks relevant skills and experience to find the most qualified candidates for further review. Your format, length, and font choice should be easy to scan. (There’s no need to add a picture, either!)

A poorly formatted resume can be self-defeating. It makes it hard for people and the ATS to find the information that qualifies the candidate for the role.

How job seekers can address it: Use an ATS-friendly resume structure and update your skills section with each submission to match relevant and important keywords in the description. Make your resume easily scannable by section and experience.

3. Not Following Job Description Directions

Job postings sometimes give special instructions. For example, they may ask candidates to apply on the company site or include specific information in their cover letter or email. Disregarding or failing to notice those instructions is an easy resume mistake to correct.

If you are a hiring manager and notice that a large percentage of applicants are not following your special instructions, check the job site to make sure they are visible on the job listing.

How job seekers can address it: Read each job description carefully, all the way to the end. If there are special instructions, make a note somewhere so you remember to include all requested information with your application.

4. Not Highlighting Relevant Experience

Job seekers need to highlight the work experience that is relevant to the position they’re applying to. There are several reasons a candidate may seem to lack relevant experience on their resume. These include:

  • They have experience but haven’t made it clear on the resume
  • They are not thoroughly reading job descriptions before applying
  • They are unclear about their career goals
  • They want to make a career change and don’t have experience in this area yet
  • They are new to the workforce

How job seekers can address it: Select job postings that match your skills and experience, and tailor your resume to that specific job posting! If you want to venture into a new field, look for ways to add relevant experience through training, internship, volunteer work, or freelance. If you have relevant experience, make sure it’s easy to see on your resume. You shouldn’t have one singular version of a resume that you use for every application.

5. Putting Too Many or Outdated Skills

A resume skills section should be no longer than 10 and 20 relevant skills. A long list of skills or common skills like “email” or “Google Docs” is a pretty common resume mistake, especially if it takes up too much room and takes away space from other important sections.

Candidates should list their most relevant and valuable skills to the job. Ideally, each resume will be slightly customized so the relevant skills they submit align with the employer’s needs and wants.

How job seekers can address it: Notice the employer’s must-have skills as you read the job description. If you have those skills, highlight them in your resume skills section. (Sometimes that does mean highlighting skills like Office products, Adobe products, and more!)

6. Only Listing What You Did, Not Accomplished

Resumes are the spot to quickly address the hiring manager and highlight your full experience. Once you’ve done the job of finding the relevant experience, make sure you’re showcasing what you did with that experience. That means listing more than your job duties.

How job seekers can address it: When listing relevant experience, prioritize success you had in the role rather than simply what you did. Great resumes combine both. Some examples of success could be:

  • How much revenue grew when you were on a team and how you contributed
  • Number of projects successfully completed and how it impacted organizational success
  • How you identified and solved problems for a team or company
  • Demonstrated leadership and growth within an organization

7. Listing Unprofessional Social Media or Email

Many hiring managers search the web for candidates before or after an interview, and some candidates provide their social media on their resumes. When hiring managers research your social media, they are looking for posts or content that indicates that if a candidate is hired, they will act professionally and demonstrate good judgment even outside the workplace.

Your email should also look professional, as well.

How job seekers can address it: Keep your LinkedIn profile active, professional, and up to date. Most recruiters and employers look there first! You can keep other social media accounts private if you choose. If you chose to keep your social media accounts public, you should assume that they will be viewed by potential employers and keep that in mind when posting content. Unless social media is relevant to the role, you should consider not providing your social media information.

Find the Perfect Match

The purpose of any job search is to find a skilled, capable candidate that matches the role and complements the company culture. For candidates, this means making it easy for hiring managers to recognize your skills and experience. For hiring managers, this may include overlooking a single mistake to dig deeper into the person behind the resume.

As a people-first recruiting agency, we are dedicated to helping individuals progress in their careers while pairing top candidates with open positions.

Contact us to find new opportunities or find qualified candidates. We make hiring and finding jobs easy.