The most common resume mistakes and how to fix them

Ever spend hours or days waiting for a phone call or email to invite you to interview for a job you applied to?

You read the job description and you just know that you have what it takes to be awesome in that role. You quickly grabbed your resume from the deep file its in on your hard drive, make sure your contact info is correct, and send it in. You just know the potential employer is going to call any day!

Except they don’t. The phone never rings, the email never comes. “What happened?” you think. “I know I was the perfect person for that position!”

What happened was that your resume lost you the chance for an interview. You might think you’ve done a killer job, but here are some of the most common ways people get their resumes wrong.

worst resume mistakes


Did you know that you have around 6 seconds for your resume to make an impact on a recruiter? This means that unless your resume is prioritized carefully with the most relevant information at the top, you risk being tossed in the “no” pile. Recruiters are busy people and for better or worse, scan through resumes very quickly. They might miss you if you have random information scattered all over. Be sure to list your most powerful and relevant points at the top so they get noticed.

Using the same resume

Going along the lines of the last point, a huge mistake a lot of people make is simply reusing the same resume for every job posting. This is wrong. You need to be editing your resume for each job you apply to. Look at the posting and see what things they are looking for specifically. Notice the words they choose. Use these words in your resume for this position! Not only will this help you get through the Applicant Tracking System, but when a real person looks at your resume, they will see that you have the skills needed to succeed. This one tip alone will increase your chances of being called for an interview dramatically.

Using a “creative” graphic resume

I know, these colorful, pretty resume templates are really nice to look at, and do make a great visual impact. However, if you remember that you only have 6 seconds to make an impact, you better bet on the recruiter taking those 6 seconds to look at how pretty all the graphics and colors are, and none of those seconds actually reading about you. Don’t let anything take away from your skills and what you can bring to the company!

Not qualifying your results

On your resume, are you listing things like, “Microsoft Excel skills” and “made sales calls”? Pro tip: these are doing absolutely nothing for you! If the job you’re applying to is a sales job, its a safe bet that every other person applying also makes sales calls. You need to say something like, “made 45 sales calls per day, resulting in $120,000 new business in Q3.” Do you see the night and day difference between the two phrases? You need to show the prospective employer just what it is you can do for them. Let them know what a rock star you are and they won’t be able to wait to talk to you!

(And just so we’re clear...I shouldn’t have to say this, but do not ever, under any circumstances, lie or embellish facts on your resume. I guarantee you will be found out at some point.)

Making grammar/spelling/punctuation errors

Everyone is human, I understand! But if there were ever a time to double and triple check your writing, its on your resume (and cover letter!) This is not the place to get lazy. The recruiter will wonder how many mistakes you will make on the job if you can’t even be bothered to make sure your resume is correct. I know many recruiters that will automatically disqualify a candidate that has a typo, especially if its for a position that is very popular.


Pick one of the items above and make sure to tackle it this week. This will get you one step closer to getting your next amazing job!

Break free and thrive,


Alyssa Johnson