What Not To Do When Writing A Resume: Common Mistakes To Avoid

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You may think that writing a resume is easy – just list your work experience, skills, and education, right? Wrong. A resume is more than just a list of facts. It’s your chance to show potential employers that you’re the best person for the job.

But, if you’re not careful, you could make some common mistakes that could cost you the position you’re applying for.

In this article, we’ll go over what “not” to do when writing a resume. We’ll cover some of the most common mistakes people make, and give you tips on how to avoid them.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to create a resume that stands out from the competition and gets you noticed by hiring managers. So, let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Avoid spelling and grammar errors
  • Ensure formatting consistency throughout the resume
  • Pay attention to details and avoid overlooking important information
  • Use a professional design and avoid unprofessional layouts

Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

Don’t forget to tailor your resume to the job description – it’s a crucial step in making sure your skills and experience match the position you’re applying for!

Keyword optimization is key here. Look closely at the job description and identify the keywords and phrases used. Make sure those same keywords are included in your resume, particularly in the skills and experience sections. This will help you stand out to recruiters and hiring managers who are using applicant tracking systems to sort through resumes.

Additionally, using industry-specific jargon can also work in your favor. If you’re applying for a job in a specialized field, using the right terminology and buzzwords will show that you understand the industry and have the necessary knowledge to succeed in the role.

Just be sure not to overdo it, as using too much jargon can make your resume difficult to read and understand. Remember, tailoring your resume to the job description is all about striking the right balance between showcasing your skills and experience and fitting in with the company’s culture and values.

Focus on Achievements, Not Just Responsibilities

Highlight your accomplishments instead of just listing your duties in your resume. Show them the fruits of your labor, not just the tree.

Employers want to see what you’ve achieved in your previous roles, not just what your job responsibilities were. Quantify your accomplishments and use numbers to show your impact. For example, instead of just stating that you increased sales for your previous company, mention the percentage by which you increased sales. This will give the employer a clear idea of how effective you were in your previous role.

Additionally, highlighting your skills is just as important. List your skills and accomplishments in bullet points and make sure they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for. This will show the employer that you have the necessary skills and experience to excel in the position.

Remember to keep your resume concise and organized, as employers have limited time to review each candidate’s application. By focusing on your achievements and highlighting your skills, you can create a resume that stands out from the rest and increases your chances of getting hired.

a woman thinking about what to put in her resume
A woman thinking about what to put in her resume

Keep It Concise and Relevant

When it comes to writing a resume, it’s important to keep it concise and relevant. Stick to one or two pages, as hiring managers often have limited time to review each application.

Use clear and simple language, avoiding jargon or overly technical terms. Additionally, be sure to avoid including irrelevant information, such as hobbies or personal details that don’t pertain to the job.

By following these guidelines, you can create a strong, impactful resume that highlights your skills and experience.

Stick to One or Two Pages

Limit your resume to one or two pages to make it easy for hiring managers to quickly see your relevant qualifications. They have limited time to review each application, and a lengthy resume can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Here are some formatting tips to help you stay within the one to two-page limit:

  • Use a clear, easy-to-read font like Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Use bullet points to highlight your accomplishments and skills.
  • Keep margins at a reasonable size to maximize space.

By sticking to a one or two-page limit, you can ensure that your resume is concise and focused, showcasing only your most relevant qualifications. This will make it easier for hiring managers to quickly identify why you’re the right candidate for the job.

Remember, your resume is your first impression, so make sure it’s a strong one by keeping it organized and to the point.

Use Clear and Simple Language

Craft your resume using straightforward language that cuts through the noise like a sharp knife. This allows the hiring manager to easily understand your qualifications. Jargon avoidance is key when writing a clear and concise resume. Avoid using technical terms and industry-specific jargon that might confuse the reader. Instead, opt for simple language that is easy to understand and conveys your skills and experience in a straightforward manner.

Language clarity is also important. Use action verbs to describe your accomplishments and responsibilities, and avoid using passive language. Be sure to proofread your resume carefully, checking for grammar and spelling errors that could detract from your professionalism.

By using clear and simple language, you can make a strong impression on potential employers and increase your chances of landing an interview.

Avoid Including Irrelevant Information

Make sure you only include relevant information in your resume, so it stands out to potential employers and increases your chances of landing an interview. Avoid including unrelated experience or personal information that doesn’t contribute to your qualifications for the job.

For example, mentioning your hobbies or favorite TV shows may seem like a good way to show your personality, but it takes up valuable space that could be used to highlight your skills and achievements.

When considering what to include in your resume, think about what’s most important for the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a marketing position, for example, focus on your experience and skills related to marketing, rather than including information about unrelated jobs you’ve held or personal details that don’t relate to the job.

This will help your resume stand out to potential employers and increase your chances of getting an interview.

Use a Professional Format and Design

Having a professional format and design for your resume is extremely important. Hiring managers often reject candidates solely based on the appearance of their resume.

This means that even if you have impressive qualifications, if your resume looks unprofessional, it may prevent you from getting your desired job. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure your resume has a polished and professional look.

To avoid this, you need to pay attention to the layout, font, and overall design of your resume. Choosing appropriate fonts and incorporating white space are two essential elements of a professional resume layout. You should choose a font that’s easy to read and looks professional, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Avoid using fancy fonts or too many different fonts, as they can make your resume look cluttered and unprofessional.

Additionally, incorporating white space can make your resume look organized and easy to read. It also allows the hiring manager to focus on the most important information, such as your skills and experience. By using a professional format and design, you can make a great first impression and increase your chances of landing an interview.

a woman holding a resume with professional format and design
A woman holding a resume with a professional format and design

Proofread and Edit Carefully

You need to take the time to carefully proofread and edit your resume to ensure that it’s error-free and presents you in the best possible light.

Common errors made in resumes include spelling and grammar mistakes, formatting inconsistencies, and lack of attention to detail. These mistakes may seem minor, but they can negatively impact your chances of getting hired.

Employers are looking for candidates who pay attention to detail and take pride in their work, so make sure your resume is polished and error-free.

In addition to avoiding common errors, it’s important to highlight your language skills on your resume. In today’s global economy, employers are seeking candidates who can communicate effectively in multiple languages.

If you’re proficient in a language other than English, make sure to include this information on your resume. Employers will appreciate your ability to communicate with clients or customers who speak different languages, and it may give you a competitive edge over other candidates.

Overall, taking the time to proofread and highlight your language skills can greatly improve your chances of getting hired.


By now, you know the common mistakes to avoid when writing a resume. Remember, your resume is your first impression. So, it’s important to tailor it to the job description, highlight your achievements, and keep it concise and relevant.

Think of your resume as a painting. Every stroke counts. You want it to be visually appealing and professional. Use a format and design that’s easy to read and catches the eye.

Finally, don’t forget to proofread and edit carefully. One typo can ruin the entire painting.

With these tips in mind, you’re on your way to creating a perfect resume that’ll land you your dream job.

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.