double-check the details: avoid these common resume mistakes

 
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Oh, resumes. So consequential, and yet not a day goes by when I don’t see at least one with errors that make my eye twitch -- a misspelled company name, disorganized dates, action verbs repeated 4-5x on one page.

For better or for worse, the resume is your first impression to potential employers, and an error-free resume allows recruiters and hiring managers to jump directly into your content -- learning more about you, your skills, and your experience.

Let’s go through the most common resume mistakes I see before I even get to content:


INCONSISTENT FORMATTING

Bullet points that are different sizes, dates that are written all over the place and in inconsistent ways -- some have months and days, some have months, some just have years -- all in the same resume, inconsistent spacing between sections, and my personal favorite (NOT!): bullet points with and without periods scattered throughout the page. NO to all of it.

Avoid inconsistent formatting by: a) writing all of your content FIRST, and then adjusting the formatting of the entire document at one time, and b) reviewing your formatting AGAIN prior to any submissions.
 

SPELLING & GRAMMATICAL ERRORS

Spelling and grammatical errors are probably the most common resume mistakes -- they’re deceptively easy to make and come in many different forms: typos, incorrect subject-verb agreement, inconsistent pluralization, etc.

Avoid these errors by reviewing your resume with a fine-tooth comb (and preferably a red pen). I know it sounds annoying, but you really do have to read every single line to ensure that what you’ve written makes sense. After you’ve proofread the resume, have a friend, mentor, and/or professional review it and provide you with constructive feedback.
 

INCORRECT VERB TENSES

Present roles should be written in the present tense and previous roles should be written in the past tense.

Let me say that again: Present roles should be written in the present tense and previous roles should be written in the past tense.

Guess how infuriating it is to see roles that were completed more than half a decade ago written in the present tense, ESPECIALLY if “attention to detail” is listed as a skill on the resume. This error generally tends to pop up when candidates have recently updated their resume to reflect a new role -- don’t fall into that trap!

Avoid using incorrect verb tenses by cross-checking them with your roles’ dates. It’s easy to forget and just as easy to fix! Present goes with present, and past goes with past.
 

REPETITION

Assisted, assisted, assisted, responsible for, responsible for, participated, participated -- these action verbs are anything but active, and this kind of repetition can appear to reflect a lack of creativity to potential employers. What you want on your resume is a mix of ACTIVE verbs, highlighting your ability to perform on a high level on a wide variety of projects.

Avoid action verb repetition by thinking about all the different ways you can describe your responsibilities, results, and accomplishments. Even if you held the same role at two different companies, there are differences -- focus on those! Synonyms are your friends; if you need some help thinking of new action verbs to use in your resume, here’s one of my go-to lists!


No one is immune to mistakes, but my advice is this: double-check the details! Give your resume a final glance before submitting or sharing -- save yourself from finding a facepalm-worthy error AFTER pressing send!