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What to avoid in a resume

What To Avoid In A Resume | 8 Common Mistakes To Give Up

All you want is an interview, but no one is calling. So, you send out more resumes. Still nothing. This is a sign that your resume could be costing you, not helping you.

A common mistake many job seekers think is that they need more information on their resume. So, when they don’t get a call, they add more, giving painstakingly more detail to an already packed resume. This just creates more room for errors and requires more time to scan. Two things that will definitely send your resume to the very bottom of the pile. And since about 250 resumes are received for each job posting, yours won’t resurface again.  

What to avoid in a resumé comes down to these 5 things. 

  1. Inconsistency. Most recruiters and hiring managers will check your LinkedIn profile. Don’t let things slip through the cracks. Where I see a lot of inconsistencies is in employment dates. My clients will work hard to tailor their resume for the job posting but forget to update the dates – or explain differences in employment dates – on their LinkedIn profiles. This will leave recruiters wondering whether you’re lying on your resume or on LinkedIn or both. 


And, speaking of dates, use months and years. You don’t want a recruiter to think you’re hiding a gap in employment because you’ve neglected to include the month. If you have gaps, explain those in the cover letter.   


  1. Making claims that are not backed by evidence. You increased sales in your department. Great! But that doesn’t say much, nor is it believable. If you make a claim, back that claim with real facts and statistics. 


“For the past 5 years, I’ve increased year-over-year sales of in-home electronics in my department by 30%.” 


This is descriptive. It shows recruiters the longevity of increased sales as well as the volume.  


  1. Stuffing too many keywords into your resume. Most resumes are run through applicant tracking software (ATS) which means that you must use keywords specific to the job posting to pass initial screening. However, this process needs to be natural. Stuffing or including buzzwords will turn off most recruiters. Take the time when you’re updating your resume specific to the job posting to identify keywords and find ways to incorporate those words into your resume. Let’s say you’re applying for a job as a marketing content writer. One of the key responsibilities for the position includes: 


  • Research, write and edit original customer stories, whitepapers, infographics, data sheets, blogs, social, and other content. 
  • Optimize copy for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

Keywords within this posting include research, write, edit, whitepapers, infographics, data sheets, blogs, social, and SEO. If you were to include each of these words, that could be construed as keyword stuffing. Instead, write: 

  • Research relevant keywords for optimized SEO to write whitepapers, data sheets, and blog postings. 
  • Design infographics for posting on social media platforms. 


  1. Ignoring job posting instructions. This applies more generally than specifically to the resume but it’s worth mentioning here. If the job posting asks for a relevant, updated resume, that is what you need to send. Think of your resume and cover letter as the handshake – it’s the way you’re introducing yourself to the company. Would you shake a recruiter’s hand and say, “I’m Ashley, I work in career coaching.” Or would you say, “I’m Ashley. I help job seekers find work in their chosen field by coaching them on effective resume-building and interviewing skills.” 


Avoid being generic to apply to all positions and instead, get specific to what you’re being asked in the job posting. 


  1. Lying on your resume. You will be caught. And when you’re caught, you will not get the position. What’s worse is that you could end up black-listed! Recruiters talk to other recruiters. Hiring managers are active on LinkedIn. They will “back-channel” to find out more, or the truth, about you. Back-channeling is using platforms like LinkedIn to connect with other employers or mutual connections to get an honest opinion or to verify information about you. 


You’re better off explaining why you did or did not do something than you are lying about it.    

Other tips of what to avoid in a resume include: 

  • Avoiding business lingo, like bottom line, buy-in, ecosystem, and value-added. 
  • Replace general phrases of self-promotion, like go-getter and self-starter, with actual examples of what you did to garner such a title. 
  • Don’t add the “givens” like hard worker, self-motivated, and team player, or other obvious skills.  

Of course, I’ve left off the list the obvious like spelling and grammar. It goes without saying that if you fail to take the time to make your resume perfect – and I do mean perfect – it’s also going to the bottom of a 250-resume pile! 

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