Common mistakes made when writing a resumé

Job application

Why pay someone to write my resumé when I can do it myself?

This is a question many people ask when they think about resumés. People believe you can just download a resumé template, fill in the blanks with your info, send it off and await the interview call. The problem is, they have just done what the majority of the other hundred or more applicants have done. And these resumé are what we call a shopping list resumé.

A shopping list resumé is a hastily thrown together list of the bare essentials and will not make you stand out. If anything, it will highlight your lack of attention to detail and will utterly fail to make a good impression. Would you go to a job interview in your track suit pants and slippers? Well, why would you send a resumé that looks like it was thrown together with as little effort?


Over the past 20 years, I have read, assessed and rewritten tens of thousands of resumés and CVs. The following are the most common mistakes I see candidates make repeatedly, and so I want to share these with you so you can make sure they don’t crop up in your resumé!

 Main Resumé/CV Errors

  1. Avoid dry and boring lists of duties and responsibilities
    These cause your resumé to look like every other resumé out there. Instead, talk about your key achievements. 
    For example, which one of these statements sounds better? 
    “Saved company money on fuel”
    OR
    “Reduced company fuel bill by 39% through the introduction of fuel cards”
    List the things you achieved that were “above and beyond” the capabilities of anyone else in the same position.
  2. Avoid listing previous positions in current tense rather than past tense and vice versa. Check your punctuation and tense as these little things can bias a recruiter against you. If you are not confidant with your grammar, ask someone who is to read it.
  3. Do not put long lists of key skills such as team player or people person on your resumé. Unless backed up by evidence, these are meaningless, and in all honesty, everyone lists these clichés on a resumé.
  4. Don’t make a resumé too long, nor attach pages of references. You really need to grab the recruiters attention by the first or second page at the latest so do not put your best material further back than that. Also, if you make it too long, they just won’t read it.
  5. Never put your date of birth, religion, political stance or marital status on a resumé. This is unnecessary and legally you are not obliged to disclose personal information. However, if you are about to start looking for new employment, it would be very smart to clean up your online presence. Do not think that an employer won’t Google search you. Look yourself up and see what they will find (you may be very surprised how much of you is visible online.)
  6. Avoid plain and overused layouts. They do nothing to promote you and you will not stand out. Try and be a little creative and angle your resumé to your field, I.e. if you are applying for a professional field, look the part. If you are going for something creative then let that show in your resumé.

These tips will help you spruce up your resumé and avoid the pitfalls most people fall into.


And remember, once you have redrafted your resumé based on the above tips, you can always forward your document to us for a free resumé critique.   You have little to lose and so much to gain!

Contact Help Write My Resumé and get started TODAY