Tips: Resume Blunders

Anthony Balderrama, writer,
Posted: 2010-03-12 11:43:45

Resumes are tricky: If done well, they can put you in the running for a job; if done poorly, they end up in the hiring manager’s recycling bin. They should be easy since you’re just talking about yourself. No one knows your work history, qualifications and skills better than you. Unfortunately, they are hard work.

Making years of experience fit on one or two pages is no easy task. Yet, while there is no one way to craft the perfect resume, there are some moves guaranteed to hurt your job hunt.

Here are some resume blunders you should avoid at all cost.

Forgetting the employer

Although the resume is about you, it’s not for you. After all, if you were the intended audience, you wouldn’t bother sending it out. The resume is meant to show prospective employers why you’re the perfect match for the job. They want to see the skills, experience and qualifications mentioned in their job postings. If you have skills that don’t line up exactly with the position but you know are transferrable, make that clear in the resume.Don’t assume they’ll infer what you mean, because if they don’t, you won’t be considered for the job.

Not using keywords

Keywords, like career summaries, are signs of the time. Today, many employers use software to scan submitted resumes for keywords that suggest an applicant is a good match for the job. Although you won’t know which exact words the software is looking for, a job posting can give you a good idea. Incorporate phrases and terms from the posting, and see what words reappear in several industry ads. Concrete terms such as “infrastructure development” and “strategic planning” will fair better than generic phrases like “hard worker” and “team player.”

Using an objective instead of a career summary

An advantage of updating your resume regularly is that you can not only update your skills and accomplishments but also its format. For example, just five or 10 years ago most resumes included an objective at the top. These days, the career summary has taken its place. Like an objective, the summary should give the employer an idea of who you are, except it allows you to focus more on your experience than on your goals. You can briefly mention your career highlights, including past roles and your strongest skills.

Not proofreading

Typos and grammatical errors on a resume are the textual equivalent of showing up at an interview chewing gum and wearing tennis shoes. A resume full of mistakes suggests you care neither about the quality of your work nor the impression it makes. An employer wants someone who produces exemplary work and will be an excellent representative of the company.


Embellishing is a common practice that rarely impresses hiring mangers because they’ve seen it all. They know “childcare leadership executive” means “babysitter.” Outright lies, however, have no place on a resume. For one thing, it’s not hard to verify any information you put down, so you could get caught at any point between submitting your resume and getting a job offer. Plus, it’s a small world, and the truth has a way of coming out when business associates bump into one another at conferences. If your boss mentions your name to your supposed former supervisor only to be told you never worked there, you could get fired.

Not keeping up appearances

Before an employer even reads your resume, he or she forms an impression based on how it looks. It’s a snap judgment that can’t be avoided – after all, don’t you immediately zone out when you receive an e-mail that’s one huge block of text? Make your resume visually appealing by using bulleted lists, plenty of white space and subheadings. Also, avoid fonts that are full of distracting swirls and colors. It doesn’t matter how well-written your resume is if no one wants to read it.

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Copyright 2010

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