How to Write a Resume - Common Mistakes

There are multiple reasons as to why a resume can fail on the open market. As a job seeker, it is your responsibility to take full ownership of your resume, ensuring you create a compelling document that quite simply “works”. You also need to be open to ideas and change, especially if you resume isn't really working for you.


The following is a list of common resume mistakes, and will serve as a useful aid with troubleshooting your own resume:


  • Resume isn’t focusedensure that your resume is clearly focused towards the job you that are applying for i.e. moving away from general to specific focus.  Resumes that have become a "hybrid" i.e. trying to be something to everyone, often results in the recruiter simply moving on to the next applicant.

  • Poor layout – there’s nothing more off putting than a resume that appears to have been hastily put together, and lacks the professional look. Resumes also need to be easy to navigate, with headers, titles and key words clearly market. Furthermore, fonts and types need to be consistent throughout.   

  • Too much content – resumes that are made up of bulky paragraphs and are excessive in length will lose the reader’s attention. Use bullet points and eliminate unnecessary content (“noise”); thus providing a more succinct document.

  • Spelling and Grammar –spell checks will help you pick up on basic errors, but ask a third party to proof read your document. There’s nothing more off putting to prospective employers and recruiters than a resume that’s peppered with mistakes.

  • Resume lacks key words –employers and recruiters often use sophisticated key word search tools, similar to those that you might use to conduct online job searches. Furthermore, recruiters want to see “like for like” when comparing a job description to a resume. Therefore, the use of key words helps for comparison.

  • The use of the “First Person” and /or “Third Person” do not write in the first or third person pronoun. The use of “I”, “He” or “She” has no place in the modern resume. A resume is not a narrative.

  • Using MS Word alternatives – for now and the present future, the industry norm is the use of MS Word. If using another word package (Open Org, MS Works, iMac, Google docs etc), it is essential that you double check that a resume format opens correctly on a Windows based MS Word machine.

  • Using links – always attach your resume as a document to the job application; never send a link. If you have an online profile and/or portfolio, have a Word based resume and then point the reader to any external links.

Next on how to write a resume: Industry speak - a real turn off

For more information visit: Top 10 Most Common Resume Mistakes.

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