The 10 Deadly Resume Sins To Avoid

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No intro needed, other than to say every job seeker must identify and avoid each of these 10 resume mistakes like it’s the plague. Fortunately, the cure is for all of these mistakes is to simply spend a little bit more time reviewing your resume and to ensure you have it reviewed by a trusted source.

1. Not proofreading your resume

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No matter how many times you have written and edited your resume,  make sure to give it one last proofread before sending it off.  While spell check is great at catching spelling mistakes, and some punctuation errors, it is not designed to identify grammatical or syntax errors.

For example, spell check alone would not catch the error(s) in the following statement:

In my passed role I was responsible for the Accounting Department and I also lead the finance meetings.

Give it a try and see if you can correct the error(s).

The good news is there are TONS of free online tools and apps available to check your grammar.

The Top 5 Resume Writing Tools

2. Do not use a thesaurus

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In other words, be yourself. Don’t go out of your way to use words or phrases that you would not use in everyday conversations.  You still need to be professional – so avoid colloquiums or profane language (even if you do use that type of language at work). You get the idea!

3. Avoid using jargon or buzz words

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Make sure you understand the difference between using technical terms versus using “jargon” or “buzz words”.  Hiring managers review hundreds of resumes per week, so they can pick out phrases and terms that might sound fancy, but don’t really mean anything.

4. Do not use the first-person narrative

Everyone knows it’s your resume and your experience, so you do not need to use “I” in your resume. For example, instead of “I have extensive experience in digital marketing…” write “Extensive experience in digital marketing.”

5. Don’t use improper tense

A best practice is to use present tense when describing your present role (if you are presently employed) and past tense for all your previous roles. If you are currently between roles, then just use past tense for all the jobs.

6. Don’t forget the numbers

Yes. There is a grammatically correct way to write numbers. Basic rule is to spell out numbers lower than 10 (Ex. one, two, three…). For the number 10 and higher you should write them out (Ex. 10, 11, 12, …).

Two exceptions for this rule: First, if you are using a numbered list, then you can write out the number.  Second, if you are beginning a sentence with a number (Ex. Eighteen years of …) then you need to spell out the number.

7. Remember your punctuation

Freshen up on the basic rules of using punctuation like commas, colons, semi-colons, and periods.  Avoid using exclamation or question marks. Same goes for emojis and smiley faces. Just make sure your resume does not look like an Instagram or Twitter post 🙂

8. Double-check your timelines and chronology

Ensure your previous jobs are in proper chronological order and the dates line up properly. With the exception of contract work or freelance jobs, your job dates should not overlap. You also want to make sure the dates are accurate so when a reference check is done all the dates line up.

9. Format check

It is absolutely fine to copy and paste information between different resumes, your LinkedIn profile, or previous job posts, but make sure your formatting and fonts all match up.  A simple way of doing this is using the Paste Special command.

10. Include keywords

The average job posting receives anywhere from 100-200 resume submissions. This is why hiring managers rely heavily on the use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen job applicants. When you upload or email your resume, it is often routed directly to an ATS platform where it filters out 70-80% of the resumes. A factor used to screen out resumes is by checking if it includes certain keywords – certain words or phrases found in the job posting.

Resume Writing Tips for 2021


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