Biggest Resume Blunders


A poorly written résumé can lead to missed job opportunities. Learn how to avoid several all-too-common mistakes.

A résumé is 1 of the first application components that an employer will view, and it can make or break your candidacy.

"Résumés are the heartbeat of a career search,” says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, a career and workplace adviser at Glassdoor. “If done well, your résumé will tell your story and sell you.”

However, a poorly written résumé could get your application tossed aside, costing you a chance at your dream job. Here's how to avoid several all-too-common mistakes when writing your résumé.


Typos and grammatical errors are some of the biggest yet easiest errors to fix in a résumé.

“In this day and age, there really is no excuse for a number of grammatical errors” explains Maele Hargett, an executive recruiter with Ascendo Resources.

According to a 2013 Career Builder survey, 58% of employers identified résumés with typos as the most common reason for automatically dismissing a candidate. Common errors include misspelled words, improper grammar (they’re/their/there, you’re/your, then/than), improper punctuation, and incorrect verb tense.

Asking friends, family, or colleagues to proofread your résumé can help eliminate these easy-to-fix errors.


Career Builder’s research discovered that 36% of employers identified résumés that are generic and unpersonalized for the position as a common mistake that may lead to automatically dismissing a candidate

According to Matt Tarpey, a career adviser with CareerBuilder, “instead of sending out a generic résumé to multiple employers, the more effective option would be to work on 1 application at a time, tailoring your résumé to fit the job description, and taking the time to truly understand what each employer is looking for.”

When writing a résumé, it can be helpful to use the description for the job opening as a guide to tailor it to what the company is looking for.

Poor formatting

A cluttered or poorly formatted résumé can cause it to be passed aside in the initial moments of an employer's review.

According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, substance definitely matters more than style.

“Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your résumé clean and legible," Bock says.

This means avoiding difficult-to-read fonts, distracting colors, and cluttered information. Additionally, saving your résumé as a PDF can help with any formatting issues when opening the document with different programs.

Incorrect info

Ensuring you have correct information is 1 of the most crucial aspects of your résumé.

“When you put an incorrect phone number down or mess up your job titles or dates, it makes your résumé look haphazard,” says Hargett.

Before sending your résumé, double check to ensure that your home address, phone number, and email address are all correct and up-to-date.

Additionally, it’s important to always remain professional. Nearly one-third of employers from Career Builder’s survey indicated that résumés with inappropriate email addresses lead them to automatically dismissing a candidate.

Being vague

When writing a résumé, it’s important to include descriptive wording within your job descriptions.

“When you are too wordy and vague, we don’t know what you’ve actually accomplished,” explains Hargett. “Employers like to see as much information as possible up front. Highlight your accomplishments. If you raised money or saved money, put down the actual dollar figure—never give a generality that you can’t verify when they dig deeper.”


According to Bock, “a crisp, focused résumé demonstrates an ability to synthesize, prioritize, and convey the most important information about you.”

It’s important to remember that a résumé doesn’t have to be a chronicle of your entire life history. Rather, it is a tool that highlights your relevant skills and experiences.

In Career Builder’s survey, 66% of employers stated that a résumé for new college graduates should be 1 page long, while 77% of employers said a résumé for seasoned workers should be at least 2 pages in length.

Bock says a good rule of thumb is “1 page of résumé for every 10 years of work experience.”

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