Resumes are important advertisements for interviews. However, few people are resume savvy - their resumes are often “dead upon arrival,” because of numerous writing, production, and distribution mistakes.

You should avoid these writing errors:

  1. Resume is unrelated to the position in question.
  2. Too long or too short.
  3. Unattractive - poorly designed, small type style, crowded copy.
  4. Misspellings, poor grammar, wordiness, and repetition.
  5. Punctuation errors.
  6. Lengthy phrases, long sentences, and awkward paragraphs.
  7. Slick, amateurish, or “gimmicky” - appears over-produced.
  8. Boastful, egocentric, and aggressive.
  9. Dishonest, untrustworthy, or suspicious information.
  10. Missing critical categories - experience, skills, and education.
  11. Difficult to interpret because of poor organization and lack of focus.
  12. Unexplained time gaps between jobs.
  13. Too many jobs - job hopper with no career advancement.
  14. No evidence of past accomplishments or a pattern of performance from which to predict future performance; primarily focuses on formal duties and responsibilities that came with previous jobs.
  15. Lacks credibility and content - includes “canned” resume language.
  16. States a strange, unclear, or vague objective.
  17. Appears over-qualified or under-qualified for the position.
  18. Includes personal information that does not enhance the resume.
  19. Lacks critical contact information (telephone number and email address) and uses an anonymous address (P.O. Box number).
  20. Uses jargon and abbreviations unfamiliar to the reader.
  21. Embellishes name with formal titles, middle names, and nicknames, which make him or her appear odd or strange.
  22. Repeatedly refers to “I” and appears self-centered.
  23. Includes self-serving references that raise credibility questions.
  24. Includes red flag information such as being incarcerated or fired.
  25. Sloppy, with handwritten corrections and/or stains or smudges.

Employers also report encountering several of these production, distribution, and follow-up errors:

  1. Poorly typed and reproduced - hard to read.
  2. Produced on odd-sized paper.
  3. Printed on poor quality paper or on extremely thin or thick paper.
  4. Soiled with stains, fingerprints, or ink marks.
  5. Sent to the wrong person or department.
  6. Mailed, faxed, or emailed to “To Whom It May Concern.”
  7. Emailed as an attachment which could have a virus if opened.
  8. Enclosed in a tiny envelope that requires the resume to be unfolded and flattened several times.
  9. Arrived without proper postage - the employer gets to pay the extra!
  10. Sent the resume by the slowest postage rate possible.
  11. Envelope double-sealed with tape and nearly indestructible!
  12. Back of envelope includes a handwritten note stating that something is missing - a telephone number, email, or new mailing address.
  13. Resume taped to the inside of the envelope, an old European habit practiced by paranoid letter writers.
  14. Accompanied by inappropriate enclosures - self-serving letters or recommendations, transcripts, or work samples.
  15. Arrived too late for consideration.
  16. Came without a cover letter.
  17. Cover letter merely repeated what was on the resume.
  18. Sent the same resume to the same person several times.
  19. Follow-up call made too soon - before the resume and letter arrived!
  20. Follow-up call was too aggressive - candidate appeared needy.

Your resume, instead, should incorporate the characteristics of strong and effective resumes. It should:

  1. Clearly communicate your purpose and competencies in relation to employers’ needs.
  2. Be concise and easy to read.
  3. Outline a pattern of success highlighted with accomplishments.
  4. Motivate the reader to read it in-depth.
  5. Tell employers that you are a responsible and purposeful individual - a doer who can solve their problems.


SOURCE: Adapted from Ron Krannich, Ph.D., The Re-Entry Employment and Life Skills Pocket Guide (Manassas Park: Impact Publications), pages 27-28. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Copying strictly forbidden.