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5 Common Resume Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job

Don’t let your resume betray you. Avoid these common and costly blunders. [TWEET]

If you’ve finished your resume and you’re ready to send it out, wait. There are a few common resume pitfalls that could mean the difference between being tossed and being recognized. Other than basic typos, the following are the most common mistakes made on a resume. Does your resume include any of these?

1. Assumed Skills

  • “Excellent verbal and written communication skills.”
  • “Ethical standards and confidentiality.”
  • “Able to collaborate professionally.”
  • “Resourceful decision making.”
  • “Prioritizing and multitasking.”
  • “Self-starter.”
  • “Ability to learn and adapt quickly to changing environments.”

If your resume contains any of these phrases, consider changing them to something more specific that describes your background. Hirers assume that you can communicate, that you can collaborate with others, and that you’re capable of managing your own time and working on more than one task. These are basic office and work skills that will be ignored on a resume. They do not support your candidacy.

2. Microsoft Office Suite
You can omit the basic Microsoft products like Suite, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from your resume. Hirers assume you know and regularly use these programs. Just as you can assume you will have a computer at your desk, your employer will assume you can use one. If you use specific tools such as Visual Basic, Access, or OneNote you could add those because they are used for more specific tasks and projects.

3. Passive Voice
In your job descriptions, avoid passive verbs. Action verbs make you look more, well, active. For example:

  • Passive: “Was a producer on ABC TV show.”
  • Active: “Produced ABC TV show.”
  • Passive: “Assisted with office duties.”
  • Active: “Filed documents, returned phone calls, responded to customers, and entered customer data into computer system.”

See the difference? When you indicate more specifically how you did something, better verbs come out.

4. Objective
Many job candidates think they should talk about their life or compliment themselves in the paragraph at the top of a resume. Companies are not interested in what you think of yourself, and adjectives like “successful” or “highly qualified” are subjective. What your previous or current company considers successful or highly qualified may be different for your future company. Your future boss is solely interested in how you will benefit the company. So, make the top paragraph a summary of your proven qualifications and accomplishments that make you the best candidate.

5. Overused words
According to LinkedIn, these were the 10 most overused words in profiles in 2014:

  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Passionate
  • Driven
  • Extensive Experience
  • Organizational
  • Strategic
  • Track Record
  • Responsible
  • Problem-Solving

“Passionate,” “driven,” and “responsible” should not be on a resume. They are too general and could describe anyone. But some of these words are important and applicable, they just need context. “Extensive experience” is fine; but why not pump it up and say how much experience? 10 years? More than 20? “Strategic” is actually a great word to use on a resume, and it will have more impact if you use it to describe something specific you accomplished: “Implemented strategic marketing plans targeting specific demographics.”

The goal of creating a resume is to get you past applicant tracking systems (ATS) and recruiter eyes to an interview. Companies program their tracking systems to look for specific keywords in the context of your resume. Avoid these five mistakes and your resume is more likely to stand out from the many others.

Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!