Three Big Mistakes Resume Writers Make That Hurt Their Chances of Getting Hired

The formal resume is alive and well despite the job hunting that occurs on social media.

Just last week, I received a resume from a friend and former client asking me to critique it. Of course, there are numerous features of a great resume. But there also are prevailing weaknesses–flaws that I see repeated over and over again. There are thCereal boxes page 001 300x232 - Three Big Mistakes Resume Writers Make That Hurt Their Chances of Getting Hiredree big ones.

They aren’t distinct. If you’re not distinct you’ll be extinct. Think of yourself as a brand. A resume is a branding statement. Your resume should tell the world what you do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinctive value. Think of yourself as a box of cereal on a grocery shelf. Each makes a promise about great taste or the perfect blend of healthy attributes. But they’re all pretty much the same. How are you different? What makes you special to a new client or an employer?

They focus on activity versus results. Activities are needed to play. Results are needed to win. In my friend’s resume she talked about “advising business leaders,” “positioning executives” and “integrating plans”.  Most anyone in her field advises, positions and integrates. But, most haven’t improved quality by 94 percent in the first two months on the job. Most haven’t reduced damage in a distribution center by 65 per cent while improving productivity by 16 percent. Most haven’t increased revenues by 23 percent with a 1,667 percent ROI. Translate what you’ve accomplished for someone else so it communicates what you can do for your next employer. Remember it’s about them, not you.

They are long, wordy and take forever to read. I read recently that the average person spends five to nine seconds skimming a resume. Assuming that’s true, a resume needs to be a simple, fast read. One or two pages. Get to the point. If you can say the same thing in fewer words, do it. Edit. Edit and edit again. And by all means use spell-check. A 2013 Career Builder survey found that 58 percent of resumes have typos. One typo speaks volumes and in many cases far louder than all the rest of the words in your resume.

Starting today, think of yourself as a brand and your resume is your branding statement.


  1. I echo Jim’s sentiments above and I would also add that as a person who works in Career Development with students and alumni on a continual basis, it is also important to communicate the soft skills “value added” as well. This conversation helps facilitate learning and understanding of self-actualization.

    Included statistical improvement is great to see on a resume, but I believe a balance of the soft skills value is important, too. In many corporations today the first round cuts are being made electronically. (Meaning, if a resume doesn’t have specific words or phrases included, it is cut in that first round.) Regardless of HR processes, I would claim that the implementation of accurate soft skills into a resume is incredibly powerful.

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