Common Resume Mistakes

Written by

George D. Baker


August 14, 2014


Looking for a job can be frustrating and hectic. To gain a competitive edge, some people think that it is a good idea to get creative on their resumes. While it is important to make your resume stand out, many common tactics for “getting noticed” by potential employers may actually hinder your changes of employment and even cost you the job. Here is a quick list of 15 resume mistakes you should avoid:

  • Never Use “Resume” as the Title of Your Resume! It’s an obvious suggestion, but you’d be surprised how many people make this mistake.
  • Too Much Information (TMI) Above all, your resume is a business representation, so never include overly personal information, such as your age, ethnicity, physical characteristics, marital status, sexual orientation, social security number, or any other potentially controversial characteristics. Most hiring managers decide whether to grant you an interview based on the information you provide, so don’t give them an excuse to toss out your resume right off the bat.
  • Nix the Photos If you include a photo of yourself on your resume, most employers will toss it directly into the trash. Don’t be offended—it’s not because they think you’re unattractive. Businesses can get into a lot of legal trouble if they hire an employee based on their sex, ethnicity, age, etc. While you might in fact be a great candidate for the job, most businesses don’t want to be accused of hiring someone because of the way they look. The one exception to this rule is if you are applying for a job in a foreign country. Typically, including a photo when looking for jobs abroad is a standard practice.
  • Unprofessional Email Address If your email address is primarily for personal use and includes a nickname or catchphrase, create a new email address strictly for professional use. While sometimes funny, you don’t want your employer to doubt your professionalism or maturity.
  • Religion and Politics Never mention your political views or religious beliefs in your resume if you are applying for an unrelated position. However, if you are seeking a religious or political position, acknowledging that you share the same goals and beliefs as the organization may help you.
  • Criminal Record While honesty is often the best policy, it is a good idea to not mention a criminal record on your resume. If the employer’s human resources department has a criminal record policy, they will ask you at the time of interview.
  • Hobbies. Avoid listing your hobbies that are not relevant to the position. In most cases, mentioning your hobbies amounts to a waste of space and time for your reader. In most cases, it is better to keep your resume as brief and direct as possible.
  • Irrelevant Job Experience Even if you do not have much experience at all, do not provide unrelated job experience. When applying for a professional position, it is never wise to provide information about babysitting or dog walking. Instead, talk about about volunteer experiences or internship programs.
  • Current Business Contact Information You want to avoid potential employers contacting you while you are at work, so don’t include your current business contact information. Some employers monitor phone calls and emails, so talking to new employers while at your old job may lead to your termination or even a legal dispute.
  • Salary Information Do not provide salary requirements or salary history. If information pertaining to your previous salaries is requested, include it in the job application or your cover letter.
  • False Facts Never advertise any false information anywhere in your resume. For example, if you were one semester away from completing your bachelor’s degree, do not claim that you did on your resume. More often than not, the human resources departments will eventually find out that you lied when conducting pre-employment personal background checks.
  • Avoid Negative Information You do not want to include anything that will prompt an interviewer to ask questions about your weaknesses, or any other unflattering information. If information can hurt your chances of being hired, leave it out! A short resume is better than a defamatory one.
  • What You Did Not Like About Your Previous Employer Never complain about your previous employer either in your resume or in an interview, as it may make you appear ungrateful, spiteful and unwilling to work with a diverse group of individuals.
  • Avoid Personal Pronouns Do not write your resume in first- or third-person. Instead of using full sentences, develop a list format, starting each entry with a verb instead. Examples: “Seeking a position as registered nurse,” or, “Developed a new filing system.”
  • References Do not provide a list of references on your resume. An employer will request a list of professional references if you are being seriously considered for the position. Notify your references ahead of time that a potential employer may soon contact them.

To avoid making even more common resume mistakes, check out our free resume template.

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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