10 Common Resume Mistakes

Drake Editorial Team

You've been job searching online for a while now, but you haven't been getting any bites back on your application. Take the time to go through your resume and cover letter and highlight any potential errors. This will help you understand what the potential interviewer is looking for and you can adjust your errors accordingly. 

Top 10 Common Resume Mistakes:

1. Listing your duties not your accomplishments

One of the most prevalent resume blunders is to turn your resume into a dull list of job duties and responsibilities. To create a resume that is a cut above the rest, you need to demonstrate how you made a difference at each company and provide specific examples of how the company benefited from your performance.

When developing your achievements, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What were the problems or challenges that you or the organisation faced?
  • What did you do to overcome the problems?
  • What were the results of your efforts?
  • How did the company benefit from your performance?

2. A bad objective or no career goal

Many candidates lose their readers at the very beginning of the resume by being too general with their career objective statement e.g., “A challenging position that will enable me to contribute to organisational goals…”. Always link your objective statement back to the job in question, what you are looking for in your next career move and include some of your key achievements.

3. Your resume is either too long or too short

Too many people try to squeeze their experiences onto one page, because they’ve heard that a resume should never be longer than one page. When formatting the resume to fit on one page, many job seekers delete their impressive achievements. The reverse is also true when people try to record their entire career history.

The rule about the appropriate length of a resume is that there is no rule – however typically, a concise resumes is anywhere from 2-4 pages long depending on which stage of your career you are in.

The most  important guideline, however, is that every word in your resume should sell you!

4. No action words

When writing your resume, avoid using a passive voice. Passive words undermine the strength of your achievements. Instead use action words that grab the attention of the reader. 

For example, instead of writing "responsible for" or "duties included" write "accelerated..." "built..." "executed.." 

These words are action packed and will make your CV stand out.

5. Listing personal or irrelevant information

Many people include their interests, such as reading, hiking, snowboarding, etc. These should only be included if they relate to the job objective. Personal information, such as date of birth, marital status, height and weight, or nationality should not be included on your resume.

6. Not using a chronological layout

One of the most effective resume formats is the modified chronological type. Here is the basic layout:

  • Header (name, address, email address, phone number)
  • Objective Statement
  • A strong profile section (detailing the scope of your experience and areas of proficiency)
  • Reverse chronological employment history (emphasising achievements in the past 10 years). Include employer names, positions held and primary responsibilities
  • Education (this might be moved to the top for new grads) Be concise by listing the qualification obtained, year it was completed and listing the institution.

7. Not Including a summary or profile section

A summary section is one of the greatest tools you can have as a job seeker has. If you have done your homework, you will know the type of skills and competencies that are important in the position.

The summary should demonstrate the skill level and experiences directly related to the position being sought.  Note, it is a summary and should be no longer than a paragraph.

8. Not using keywords

With the majority of large– and medium-sized companies using technology to store resumes, often your resume will only be found in an applicant search if you have included relevant industry or job specific keywords in your resume.

Read the job advert carefully and make sure you include any keywords.

9. Listing references

Employers know that if you are searching for a job, you should have professional references. So this statement mainly wastes space. Use it only as a graphical element, to signal the end of a long resume or to round out the page design.

10. Typos, spelling and grammatical errors

Just one typo or a spelling mistake and your chances are greatly diminished. Two errors can land your resume in the bottom of the pile. If possible, ask someone to proofread your resume to check for any typos, spelling or layout errors. This document is a reflection of you and should be absolutely perfect.


Now, use this information and go through your resume. Have you noticed any mistakes? Take the time to fix the errors and then your resume will be good to go!


Need free resources to help you on your job search? Download your free CV and resume template here:

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