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5 Mistakes You Made on Your Resume

By Bonnie Johnson,


You just updated your resume and submitted it for a job. Now you see the title of this article and wonder if you’ll find you’ve committed some of the mistakes outlined. The following will help you discover if you’ve made a few faux pas and how to fix them in future applications materials. And if you haven’t clicked “apply now” yet, press pause instead, and read on for a few pointers before submitting your resume.

MISTAKE #1: Including your job responsibilities and duties.


Don’t tell prospective employers what you are supposed to do or have done on-the-job. When communicating your professional experience and work history…you’re not simply creating a list of your work tasks, assignments, or describing a typical day on the job. Tell the reader what you’ve accomplished. Quantify results. Highlight awards. Use active, power words like “advanced,” “exceeded,” “focused,” and “targeted.”


MISTAKE #2: Using an objective statement.


Most career advisors will tell you that objective statements are outdated. You may feel relieved if you detested formulating the statement and updating it for each application anyway! But wait; it’s not as easy as just deleting it. Repurpose the space in a variety of ways to grab the reader’s attention: 1) Create a marketing or branding statement that highlights your signature strength. 2) Use a professional summary instead which is a short elevator speech, 3) Create a skill table including 1-3-word phrases that describe you.




Too much information! You don’t want to overwhelm the reader, but rather intrigue them so they’ll want to contact you to find out more. Aim to keep your resume to a concise two-page max, one page preferred. Don’t include full job descriptions of your current or previous jobs. Simple bulleted phrases are much easier to process than paragraphs of text. Don’t include your photo, birthdate, marital status, or other personal information that’s definitely TMI.


MISTAKE #4: Keywords get you in trouble.


Customize your resume for each position by including keywords from the job posting. You’ll notice keywords and phrases that are emphasized in the position description; build these words into your resume if they’re applicable. However, don’t go too far-- be wary of stuffing keywords into your document, or overusing these words inappropriately. Hiring managers will cringe if they notice you’ve just randomly inserted keywords throughout your document to make it past the applicant tracking system.


MISTAKE #5: Verb tense: let bygones be bygones.


Grammatically, past tense is the most common. The action is complete and you’re telling the reader about it – graduated, traveled, completed, etc. However, if you’re currently employed or still actively engaged in an endeavor, actions are still going on and relevant now. They are present-tense and should be communicated this way. Your current activities will be present tense, while you’ll need to update your prior activities to past tense. Take special note of this when you’re updating your resume after receiving a promotion, changing jobs, or starting a new activity.


For more resume support, check out these articles:


Customizing Your Resume

Power Up Your Resume

Don’t Let Your Resume Hit a Digital Dead End